I am fortunate to have many inspiring women in my life, but I always had a special relationship with my grandma Rosalie (aka Mema). As a kid, I remember her awe of her style and apologetic glamor – IRL and pictures taken long before my time – from her perfectly blown hair to her red lips and long lashes. People always tell her that she looked like Elizabeth Taylor, and they’re not wrong. Mema is still the epitome of class and who I want to be, not just because she looks damn good (that’s just part of it!) But because she showed me what it means to work hard . that it’s never too late to start over; and putting on and putting on makeup just because never hurts.
Mema entered the fashion world and began working in the New York Garment District when she was 17. Because she had so much color and beauty, her love of style – everything from clothes to makeup to hair – made it really good. She was able to express herself through these things and found that the more she dressed, the more secure she felt, which helped her find a place in fashion at such a young age. She excelled in almost every area of the industry, from a manufacturer of men’s and boys’ clothing to a sportswear company for women, where she assisted one of the fashion designers and managed showroom sales. Eventually she met my grandpa, got married and started a family. Although she stopped working at the age of 24 when she became pregnant with my mother and had three more children, her responsibility as a mother did not let her love of fashion and personal support deter her. Fifteen years later, she used all of her previous experience and returned to the workforce to start her own accessories and jewelry business. And she didn’t stop there: she worked in a legendary department store for another 20 years before retiring at the age of 75.