Happy. I am so happy, almost all of the time. In the past, I would jump on and off of the happy train depending on what was going on in my life. Now, I have been on the happy train consistently, since I decided I will pursue a career in fashion design. Up until this time I have considered many other paths:

Politics, Teaching- High School, Owning my restaurant, Event Planning, Professor- College, Shop Owner-Selling other peoples products. 

Taken and edited in 2014, this is definitely one of my favorite photos to date!

Whilst, I considered these various paths, the things that have always brought me joy, that I always wanted to sink my teeth into have been fashion, photography and food. However, fashion was the last thing for me to realize I was passionate about.

Photography. I found myself drawn to photography as a child when I was gifted a toy camera. I very quickly wanted to use a real camera that actually took pictures. This love I totally attribute to my mother, who has an obsession with pictures. You know the unposed posed kind... "nonchalant," but not really. Anyway, I was always the person carrying my camera around once I was in middle and high school, even though the clunky thing wasn't the greatest to carry in your purse. This was before I even knew there were specific camera bags--though who am I kidding, that would totally have ruined my outfit, it would have been in my purse anyway! Once I was leaving high school, I discovered editing! In fact, I think the first pictures I edited the day after my last day of high school. I edited pictures I took, and ones that my friends took. Picasa anyone? "Like" if you know what Picasa is! I began falling hard for editing, this was a love that grew as I was in college and really took off when I was in grad school in LA. This is a love affair that continues to this day, but that is perhaps a story for another day.

Food, is a love I always knew I had, but which has developed greatly in my adulthood as I fell in love with cooking. Some of my earliest memories are of food, specifically my first time trying foods. My first time eating shish kabobs, biscuits and gravy, key lime pie, etc. I think food is a beautiful art, and more importantly an experience. When I eat, and have truly amazing food, I feel like I am really living. When I cook, I feel transported. My favorite way to cook is to have french music playing, with no one else is in the room.  It's just me and the food having a conversation together. In these moments, we find ways to highlight the best parts of each other. This is one of my favorite meals that I have cooked. -->

Fashion. My favorite fashion memory, from when I was a child, is "The Fur Coat Story." When I was ten years old, I remember my parents saying that I needed a new winter coat. My dad took me to Burlington Coat Factory. I remember long aisles of countless racks- kind of like DSW but with coats and jackets. I don't remember other clothing there, as they have now, but this is also the memory of a ten year old experience. I remember going through the entire store and not finding a single thing that interested me. As we were leaving, we passed by the cash registers. As I looked up at the registers, I noticed a white fur coat hanging above the registers. I pointed up at it, and told my dad that that was the coat I wanted. The coat was $100.00, this was the 90s, and I was 10, sure to grow out of the coat the following year.  My dad said we could not get the coat that day, but that I could earn the money for it. I of course was up for the task, and we left.

I was also playing soccer at the time, and my dad had decided to give me an incentive to do better on offense. He said he would give me $10.00 every time I scored a goal. I had decided in my mind that I would get the coat, and scored 6 goals my first game after the incentive was offered. My dad was excited after the first, 2-3 goals but then started to get worried by 4, 5 and 6. I remember my coach being excited at first as well, but then telling me to pass the ball more. I said okay, but did not pass the ball more. I even scored a goal from the halfway line! It was indoor soccer, and the field is much smaller than outdoor soccer, but it was still impressive. I give you all of this to say, I had my mind set on the coat. After the first game, the incentive went down to $5.00 a game. The stakes were getting too high for my my dad's wallet, especially to give to his 10 year old! That game, I only scored 2 goals. It's not easy to try just as hard for the same work, when you are only getting half the pay. After that my dad said forget it all together, and accordingly, I pretty much stopped scoring goals. Motivation is everything... At this point I had $70.00 anyway, and my parents happily paid the additional $30.00. I got my white faux fur coat.

What makes me laugh most about this story is that, fashion is so innate and normal to me, that I didn't see this experience as an indicator of passion, it was just how I was. I didn't read into the fact that, I never did anything with my Barbie and baby dolls besides change their clothes and do their hair. I didn't care about feeding them, playing with them, having the talk to each other. I just wanted to dress them, and what is an outfit without the appropriate hairstyle? When I say dress them, I mean putting together outfits, not just putting on the outfits they came with. And when I say doing their hair, I mean cutting it to give them a face frame, changing the parts in their hair, curling it, and putting it into braids. There was serious styling going on here!

My first memory of being conscientious of my style was in 4th or 5th grade. I had been going to private school and wearing a uniform everyday, but I had started going out more on the weekends, and my mom let me get new clothes. I asked for pants that I knew were a bit edgy, and a fashion risk. I remember feeling like it was a defining moment in who I was. Did I play it safe and follow the crowd? Or did I do what I wanted, what felt right, and interesting to me? I felt nervous getting them, but got them anyway. They were baggy khaki pants, with a few pockets, and a skater girl embroidered on one side. I remember truly curating my style as I grew older, and evolved. I became very aware of style and taste. I continued to have that penchant for taking a risk with my style, and not always following the crowd. Still, I was complimented on pieces often, and usually had cool hair styles and headpieces to go with them. In 8th grade, I remember using a multi-colored sequined scarf as a belt for the first time. It was exciting and liberating to repurpose something, to see it for more than it was marketed. I continued my trend of repurposing as I grew older, and today love to wear necklaces as headpieces, belts as headbands, necklaces as bracelets, etc. I still love to select special pieces, and style things in beautiful interesting ways.

What makes me most happy in pursuing fashion is that I feel free. I don't feel held back, or down by things that don't feed my soul. I feel like I can breathe freely. I feel the spirit of life every single day. I feel joy every single day. I experience a little euphoria every single day. This is not to say that I do not experience sadness, or anger, but I feel such great joy, that my overall status is still happy. JDH is an expression of my happiness. I'll leave you with one of my favorite blooms from the JDH Holiday Lookbook!

--Nina E.

Have you discovered your happiness? Let me know in the comments below.


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