My brain circuitry is mostly devoted to two subjects: fashion and style.
Last month two questions were burning in my mind: Why is style important? and Should I get a backpack?
Style has been a lifelong study for me but I wanted to hear from others. I realized that could mean talking to strangers. (Gulp.) I am trained to not impose on anybody. Imposing is not a North Dakota thing; I imagine it could be a New York thing, but I’m from North Dakota.
One Saturday last month I was at the Marin County Gem Faire on behalf of a client. I noticed two women strolling together looking at beads. I thought of asking them my “Why is style important” question but I was nervous. I circled the aisles and spotted them again. I decided to climb out of my North Dakota skin and interrupt everything they were doing in order to satisfy my curiosity. (Doesn’t that sound selfish!?)
I said, “Excuse me? You two look like you’re interested in style and I’ve been wanting to ask women why style is important … if indeed it is. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”
I found out that Ginny Heald (in the berry tunic) and Kathy Liske (black tunic) are friends from Livermore. They live five minutes apart.
Ginny spoke first. “For me, style is important. It’s a form of self expression. When I get dressed I’m demonstrating my creativity.”
Kathy said, “I don’t do it for anybody else. I do it for myself. When I get dressed I think about how I want to feel. I have a picture in my mind of what that would look like and I’ll put it together. I don’t even have to look in the mirror.”
I asked Kathy what she wanted to feel that morning when she was getting dressed.
“I wanted to feel calm and relaxed and able to make up my mind,” she said.
The gem faire is such an overwhelming place. This was the first time I’d been there and I was practically dizzy at all the stuff to look at so I totally understood what Kathy meant about dressing to feel calm and able to make up her mind. What a wise person!
It turns out that they go to gem faires together, buy jewelry parts and then they get together to make jewelry. Ginny said, “Kathy comes over and we sit at the kitchen counter and we start creating. We collaborate on pieces.”
They make jewelry for themselves, friends, and family but they also sell their work at el Sol Wine, a Livermore winery owned by Kathy’s husband, Hal. Ginny’s husband (the two friends met through their husbands) is a carpenter and made a display case for them at the winery. Another girlfriend who makes jewelry offered a standing metal case for them to use. It all fell together. They were in business! They agree that the winery earnings support their jewelry habit.
They’ve enjoyed fashion and style forever. They both had inspirational moms who looked like movie stars. Besides making jewelry together they go on field trips where they study new trends in fashion.
Ginny is 58-years-old and Kathy is 69-years-old. We talked about style for the mature woman. “What are you going to do? Inside I’m still 27,” said Kathy.
Well, I think they’ve done a lot! They have a joyous friendship, they spark creativity in each other, and they’ve created an outlet for that creativity. I can easily imagine the two of them getting together over coffee on Monday morning, going through their stash and working together on new designs. Ginny, a fan of antique religious metals, and Kathy who makes her own tassels, are cooking up a jewelry storm in that kitchen.
Boy, I’d love to be there with them when they get together. Wouldn’t you?
And yes, they love their backpacks! Kathy surprised Ginny with hers. It’s made in Portugal and she bought it at the Walk Shop in Berkeley.
I loved learning about these two fans of style and stepping into their world just a little bit. I still think about Kathy getting up in the morning and putting together an outfit based on how she wants to feel and Ginny building an outfit that expresses her personality. I LOVED having a few minutes inside their circle of friendship. It was glorious! I think I need to talk to strangers more often.
Thanks Kathy and Ginny for sharing with us! Sending hugs your way!