“Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney
Relax Don’t Do It – were the words of the music blaring in the car, as my Mom and I made our way through the busy streets of Calgary, Alberta. Mom looks over at me, “Sally relax, you will be fine”. Nervous energy creeps in, and wraps around me as a blanket.
Finally it was time to exit the car, and make my way down the street into the building of the greatest job interview of my life. The interview that could change everything. Truth be told, I thought I was being specifically groomed for this job, for this moment.
Not sure what to expect, I make myself open the door, “Go in Sals”, I tell myself as I nervously make myself walk through the door. Once in, I am then handed a clip board with questions that they want me to answer. As I read through the questions, I think to myself, this is strange. “How tall are you? What is your weight, What is your breast size (What!? They want to know how big my BOOBS are?) Sally humour kicks in.
I hand back my clipboard to this really good looking guy. Soon we are asked to line up. I can’t help but notice, that I am literally the shortest girl standing in line. To be honest, there was a lot that didn’t fit the picture here.
Soon we were told that we had to walk across this stage. In my head I was thinking (You need to see how well I walk picking up Starbucks … well this is fashion, I guess it makes sense). Then it happens, I hear my name called – Sally Sandusky … and pretty much my career as an assistant to a very cool modelling agent ended, dream down the tank, and a huge question, “What now, Heavenly Dad!”
Mistakes happen, failure happens, and eventually we need to allow ourselves to rise and move on. The truth is that being a part of Eco Fashion Week 07 earlier this month was not only a surreal experience for me, but also a miracle.
Going into Eco Fashion Week 06 last year, I wasn’t an established designer. Eco Fashion Week really took a chance on a girl who nobody ever heard of. We didn’t have anything to show for our work, or a website. Really we had nothing, just a Dad who was willing to help cut strips out of used clothing and scrap material (thanks, Dad), a Mom who was willing to help tear apart hand-knit sweaters and help finish projects by sewing things together, etc. (thanks, Mom), and a girl with two knitting needles, and away we flew, learning lots of things along the way by trial and error. Unfortunately, some things got sent down the runway unfinished, I also got really sick.
Being asked to be a part of Eco Fashion Week 07 was nothing short of a miracle. They were willing to stand behind me again. After a few chats with Sonja, the head of designers, contracts got signed. I didn’t have much more than a month left to create a new collection.
I moved back to Vancouver a few weeks before the show in order to really focus, and continue my climb in the industry. The pressure started mounting a week before the show: I knew I had to get the work done, it had to be better than last season, and I was alone in the design process. My assistant, who I depend on, was now living across the country. I had to sew everything by hand. I started to panic, as my Facebook friends know.
The morning of fittings, I was feeling nervous. Although I left feeling good, I knew there was still a substantial amount of work I had to do, but it could be done. The night before the show, I have to admit, I was pretty tired and my brain was shutting down. Simple things became hard to do, and I decided to go to bed. As I lay there, I began to pray… “HELP me, H.D. (which is my pet name for God — H.D. stands for Heavenly Dad, Head Designer).
I still had three pairs of shorts to fix, and two sweaters to finish. (Yes, I know — impossible, right?) I lay there for another twenty minutes, when I felt in my spirit, a voice that speaks quietly … “Get up, my girl, let me fill you as only I can. You have never been a girl who gives up”. Feeling renewed with energy, I got up and knit a sweater.
The morning of the show was filled with excitement, as only the morning of a fashion show can. I still had work to do, but realized I really had given it all I had. Every morning of fashion show, it is a tradition that we do breakfast. Either by self, or whomever I am working with.
I was scheduled for an 11 a.m. model boot camp, which is kind of fun. This is where you tell the models how to walk. You stand at the end of the runway with a model coach and the president of Eco Fashion Week, and then talk into a mic, telling them if they’ve got the right expression, if they are walking too slow or too fast, and they walk to your music.
After that, it got chaotic for me. Trying to get pieces finished. Models in makeup tent, getting hair and makeup done. Finally it is close to show time, I am getting my makeup and hair done. Then it is show time.
You can see the show still on the Eco Fashion Week website at www.ecofashion-week.com. Or by Googling Sally Omeme.
This next season we are going to be seeing lots of changes, with the hopes of 30 to 45 looks. I want to have a way bigger male section. We are looking at investors and funding.
Not sure this next season will bring, but excited all the same.
Sally Omeme Sandusky is a Vancouver-based knitwear designer, who proudly refers to Sylvan Lake as home. This year marked the second time she’s been involved in Eco Fashion Week.