One-of-a-Kind Because You Are

How Annatarian Came To Be And More

I believe that we all have the answers, know what we love, and what our passion is when we are young, but somehow we lose the burning desire- or it gets diminished over time because we listen to others rather than listening to our guts- or as mythologist Joseph Campbell refers to it as ” Following your Bliss”  it’s like your own unique map– What makes you happy excited?- what can you do for hours and hours and never get bored or tired– I know when I am making things and totally engrossed- time seems to not exist- hours can pass like minutes.. That is where to look for your passion.

Looking back at my life I can see the patterns, and the common themes. I can see how often I  had been straddling two worlds,  one I was not comfortable in, but was “safe”, according to society, parents, other authority figures, and the other I felt totally comfortable in, happy in- but was “not safe” according to society, parents, authority figures.

When I was little kid- I knew what I loved, I knew I wanted to make the world a better place, and I was inspired by and loved art, differnt cultures,- I wore kimonos, and wore mirrored vests from India, and jackets from Morroco before as a toddler- I loved color,  fabrics, also animals and fantasy and imagination- I knew I wanted my company to be named Annatarian since the age of 12, that I knew I wanted to do couture- -I was so inspired by the fashion of the 80’s- Gaultier, Romeo Gigli- ( I recently discovered that it was Bill Cunningham that lead me to these designers- he was the photographer for Details Magazine and I am forever grateful)

-It was art- I loved art and I had so many ideas- that I experimented with on myself- I was that girl in school with the wild and crazy outfits…but at traditional private religious prep school -it didn’t go over too well-and I struggled with expressing my self and fitting in.  At home my parents on one hand were supportive – they were the ones that took me to art classes stating at the age of four- and recognized my talents- but were concerned that if I followed an artistic career it would be difficult- they wanted me to become a pharmacist..mixed messages!  – I followed my desire- and went to art school- and studied fashion.

After I graduated- instead of following my gut and trying it out on my own, I played it safe-I went to work for the next 5 years for various established fashion companies– and although It looked good from the outside, I was making a lot of money, traveling- it something didn’t feel right–I was far from designing couture, and I found myself really unhappy- This is where I really felt started feeling and recognizing that I was straddling two opposing worlds- On one hand I was a cigarette smoking, coffee drinking fashionista,  and on the other hand  a vegetarian,- an environmentalist- becoming educated about environmental issues, peace and non violence, Human rights abuses and animal rights issues, that also  hiked, and mountain biked, and communed with nature daily– I didn’t spend much time examining these opposites- but I knew that I didn’t feel right- While working and traveling to places China and Korea I saw how clothing was produced and how at times people were exploited, I spent time with hill tribe people in Thailand and was introduced to the craftsmanship and  the handwork of their garments, In Egypt I saw how the lushness of their history came out in their art,  I experienced the glamour of fashion in Paris, and the not so glamorous fashion world in here in Vernon at the office. Spending time in these different environments opened my eyes to the realities of life. I saw first hand that people, no matter where they were from- had very basic and very similar desires- They wanted to be happy and to care for their loved ones- It didn’t matter if it was a family that lived in a grass hut in Thailand, the factory worker in L.A. or China, or a merchant in Egypt, or my bosses- Human needs and desires were the same everywhere– So I began to examine why we did things the way we did. I realized that being an environmentalist didn’t just stop at thinking about the air, and land, trees, nature, but it encompassed larger eco system, – animals, people, society and the human condition.

So I took these lessons and I began to re-evaluate my life- I knew I wanted to express myself, and in fashion I had yet to find a way to express all the things I wanted to. I felt it was more accepted to express deeper meaning in films and I followed my gut- which lead me to take a digital film production class, and this is where I met my husband-, my ally, who played a huge role in me finding my path. And I will come back to the importance of gathering your allies

A few months after we met- 911 happened-and I realized I had been talking about doing my own line, and following my bliss, since I could remember, but I hadn’t fully made that commitment- I realized that day that at any moment my life could end- and what would I have to show for it.  I had to start, and it had to be about making the world a better place- it had to be fashion with meaning, it had to benefit everyone that was involved, – and to my amazement- as soon as I made that commitment- it was clear- I looked around and had everything I needed- I had an enormous collection of vintage fabrics and clothing, and I was going to do holistic fashion that was also beautiful.

Remember this was 2001- no one was doing this, and since no one was doing this, explaining what it was a challenge because few people could imagine something eco and beautiful- The people I was working for at the time- told me it would never work-and that no one cared about the environment, and all they cared about was the bottom line- my family said similar things, even close friends had their doubts- .. But all my beliefs and experiences had set me up to do this work and I had a clear vision of the kind of business I was going to run.- one that would benefit everyone involved, and not exploit one that could make a positive impact on the world-

But I must have been told hundreds of times that I was naive, and too idealistic- and although it did get to me- I had my allies which is so important-and I urge you- no matter where you are in your careers or lives- to gather your allies. Whether they are flesh and blood- or just people you read about will help you on your journey–when stores would practically hang up on me when I called to introduce them to my eco-couture line, or friends just thought I had lost it, If I kept my allies close– it was easier to continue.

I had my husband- in flesh and blood, but the rest of my support came from people I had just read about– past and present visionaries, and trailblazers – people who were idealistic, but actually succeeded- Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jimi Hendrix, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bjork, Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell-.. And one of them was William Mc Donough, a designer! — An architect-, – He spoke about designing buildings that would breathe and cars that would fertilize- and since kids like liking walls- why not make it paint that is nutritious? He was fantastic! William Mc Donough was my Willy Wonka. He helped create a textile factory- where the water coming out of the factory was cleaner than the water going in.! He was an idealistic designer- but was also established, he was named Time magazine’s hero of the planet, was the dean at the university of Virginia and here he was talking about these far out concepts and making it fun and beautiful and not just eco- friendly, but eco- effective.  Eco-effective design means not only not harming the environment, but also actually giving back to it–

By asking yourself ” how do we love all children, of all species, for all time?” This spoke to my heart– and his work was evidence and validation for the direction I was headed in,

I believe each of us has our own unique map- it comes from inside of us.

My map looks like this- things I love:  My love of animals-and nature, my love of fashion, wanting to help the world, wanting to create peace in the world, my interest in different cultures, my interest in history and documentation, my love of philosophy and analyzing everything-, and wanting to have my own business, – everything was laid out for me- When I made a commitment to follow my bliss- everything that I loved came together-like a perfect puzzled- it was really amazing– things that I didn’t think went together- have totally melded into a complete vision for my business-I use vintage fabrics from all over the world, from vintage Kimonos to vintage saris from India, I use my line to have a message of peace- like when I combine fabrics from countries that have been at war-what I am doing is combining that art of these countries together– and the art of these countries is the expressions of their souls– like when I was talking about how what anyone ever really wants- no matter where they are from is to be happy- When you look at the art of any culture- especially in the fabrics- it expresses happiness– So taking the happy parts of these countries that have been at war with each other- and combining them into a dress is a vision for peace…the only animal products I use are silk from kimonos or peace silk, which doesn’t kill the silkworms, like all other silk on the market,  In using fabrics or clothing from different eras, I am able to incorporate my love of history- and documentation.- I think it is so important for each of us to document our lives- the more we share with each other about our journey’s– our struggles– and the less we pretend that our lives are perfect- the more connection we have to each other- and more opportunity there is  for growth and positive change.

-My goal is to attract people to my dresses by how beautiful they were, and then have them later find out and be surprised that it was eco.

This is a way educate the consumers about the environment, without having to be preachy, about where the fabric came from, how it was made, and even the culture and background of the fabric- I feel educating people is also caring for the environment

The more people know, the better they do- the more aware they become, the more committed they become to making positive changes.

So since you have your own unique map–and the way to decipher it, comes when you make the commitment to follow your bliss.

But once you have the map or the vision figuring out how you are going to get there becomes the real work.

When I first got a hold of my vision for Annatarian- I thought great! – It will take about a year… well it’s been almost ten years, and it is still a work in progress- and recommitment to the vision is an ongoing process.  When I first started I thought I had to be perfect– I thought— great I’m using used recycled fabric and clothing, but oh no– I’m using energy from the sewing machines- – and that’s not eco-and If I ship this out- it’s going to require gas- and that’s it why we are at war. — or I couldn’t get the ecoest business cards. so I made them by hand.. It was paralyzing — until I realized that I had to take steps toward the vision- that I couldn’t just be there- I couldn’t just teleport myself there– I had to do my best with what was available– so if it meant to bike to the post office instead of driving, but then letting go and having the post office use gas to drive around their cars. So be it.

I would do the best so my point is. The vision or the map is something to follow, but how you are going to follow it is the challenge– it doesn’t tell you that you need to use a car here, or a subway there, or whether you need to invent a teleportation machine– you have to discover those things on your own.  Or-I’ve lost my map at times- wanted to rip it to shreds because it was so hard- and have run out of gas. But I keep recommitting- it is just like any relationship- it needs time and care to grow and become a big part of your life and along the way you will be making discoveries, and gathering allies.

Ultimately, we want to be happy- and that starts from the inside.  It’s about you creating your path by following your bliss. I keep talking about listening to my gut and following my bliss, but I want you to know that this has been a conscious effort– and not my first instinct- it takes a lot of effort.

Becoming the youest you you can be –Coming from a place of service is what being eco is about — know that when we come from a place of happiness, and peace the possibilities are limitless.

I see eco fashion as a foundation to start from and to explore what that means to you– Eco now is a household term, people are more aware and conscious of there choices – and they are seeing that it is about their future.  What is the next step for eco fashion? Will it cure cancer?  Will clothes be able to change colors, or even styles through digital technology? What ever it is- you can make it look fabulous. There are so many eco resources out there now- great eco communtiies to tap into that will help to support you.

The world literally at our finger tips.

I believe in expanding my ideas to encompass what I have learned through history, as well as what I’ve learned in recent times.  We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, not just the ones we are directly related to, but all of the leaders that have inspired us with their courage and wisdom. We are also at a point in time where light has shined so brightly on so many inadequacies in human existence, that people can no longer justify living in the same manner.-This is our jumping off point. Trusting the Love always wins.  I believe if we can embrace/love who we are, as individuals, and embrace/love our differences and similarities with all of humanity we will are create a map to world peace.