Having It All
One position led to the next, which led to six years working with Liz Claiborne as a knitwear designer. And that ultimately brought me to my own brand. Liz Claiborne and her husband, Art Ortenberg, had decided to add a higher-end label and asked if I would design the collection. They actually asked me if I would be willing to put my name on it. Willing? Willing!
This was a Cinderella dream -- what every young designer longs for. I had worked hard since I got out of school. The fashion business is cutthroat and difficult to get ahead in, but I just kept at it. In my years working as a knitwear designer for Liz Claiborne, I put in long, long hours, traveled to factories in Asia, sometimes as often as nine times a year. In that time, I got to work closely with Liz. I admired her tremendously, and we became good friends. But I never dreamed that would lead to her and Art offering me my own label. I was over the moon.
I got pregnant shortly after I received the offer. Soon, I would be living out the feminist fantasy from my college days -- I'd be a high-powered career woman, but that wouldn't interfere with my being a wife and a mother, too.
So there I was, 35 years old, with a new husband, a new company, and a new baby on the way. I was exhilarated. I felt proud, powerful, and optimistic. It would be a long time before I would realize just how difficult some of the aspects of this "having-it-all" lifestyle were. For the moment, I was convinced that I was creating an example for other women to follow.
From A Special Education by Dana Buchman. Copyright Dana Buchman 2006. Reproduced by permission of Da Capo Press.
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