Today J was cleaning out the cupboard under the stairs. When we moved into this house we shoved everything that wasn't essential under there and most of it has remained unpacked. Over time it's become a jumble of boxes and junk so today seemed as good a day as any to have a good clear out.
Half an hour later he handed me a magazine with a smile. It took me a good few seconds to realise what he was giving me, and then I saw. It wasn't any magazine, it was my magazine.
When I was 23 I entered a design competition through New Zealand's leading fashion magazine. The prize was Young Designer of the Year, a title I never dreamed I could possibly win. At the time I was making and selling a few A-line skirts made from remnants of designer upholstery fabric and I used the same idea in my submission. To go with the pale green floral Ralph Lauren fabric of the skirt I matched a soft peach silk that I found in an Indian shop on Auckland's K Road. I knitted a sorry looking swatch of blue wool for the cape and sent it in. A few weeks later I was walking home from the bus stop when the editor of the magazine called me and told me that I had won. I couldn't believe that my ideas had been chosen and was really excited, but the moment I hung up the phone I started to worry.
I'm a naturally shy person and the thought of having coffee with the face that looked out at me from the editors page of Fashion Quarterly made me ill. I fretted over what I should wear, what on earth I would say, how I would come across to her. The photo shoot was fun to watch, but it took hours and hours and in all of those seconds and minutes I felt incredibly awkward and like I should be more extroverted and fun. I feared they would see me as disinterested, which was the furthest thing from the truth. At the end of the day the photographer decided to shoot a couple of pictures of the model in the silk blouse I designed. It was more for fun than anything, but I remember the stylist saying that she liked it.
A couple of weeks later I received another call from the editor to say that they had chosen the photo of my blouse for the cover of the Spring issue. It was the first time they'd ever used an 'undiscovered' designer for the cover, a huge honour.
A tour of the publishing offices was my favourite part of the prize, I love to write and working for a fashion magazine was a huge dream of mine at that age. I so wanted to ask about work experience there, or at least indicate an interest in that sector of the industry - but I couldn't seem to find the words. A big part of the prize was work experience at WORLD but it never happened, mostly because I didn't push for it to happen. I was secretly relieved because the thought of being there for a week was terrifying.
For a couple of months my magazine was in all of the shops, and huge over sized covers where hanging in book store windows.
It's been 10 years since that whole whirlwind happened and I still have weird feelings about that time in my life. I wish I could have been braver and taken that opportunity with both hands. I wish I had been able to show them just how passionate I am about the industry and how I much I wanted to work for them. My regret was such that for the last few years I've avoided even thinking about my magazine and I certainly haven't wanted to look through it.
Today I decided enough was enough and it was time to sit down and have a flick through.
What did I see? I saw a fresh faced 23 year old woman, an interesting design, and some lovely comments from both the magazine and the designers who judged the competition. I saw an amazing life experience, a huge achievement, and something to show my children later on in life. I didn't see the regret any more.
So from now on I've decided I'm going to keep my magazine around where I can see it and be proud of it, not thrown in a box under the stairs.