A New Day Rising

How’s your week been? Coming back from all those Fifth of July, oops I mean Fourth of July celebrations ;)?!? It’s been a hot minute since I checked in. I think writing my last blog, creating the Phoenix Rising and a few special occasion dresses for clients while finding the perfect venue for the La Vita E Un Dono runway show, and spending so much time with my inspiring friends and family, my cup is overflowing with creativity. As best said by the Foo Fighters, “I, I’m a new day rising. I’m a brand-new sky to hang the stars upon tonight.”

The Phoenix Rising
Model: Sofia Jaureguiberry | PC: Tony Gallagher | Hair: Adora Bella Beauty Academy | MUA: Rochelle

What’s your story? Who is the cast of characters? …the protagonist (I hope you say yourself)? …the antagonist (I feel like sometimes we’re that too)? Is it a story of redemption, is it comical, is it filled with love, or does it fall in line with Greek Tragedy?

Ten years ago, over the Memorial Day weekend, I was watching soccer games with friends when one of the mentioned to me that I should start designing clothing. At the time, I was at the boutique and loved styling and buying the clothing for my clients, but hadn’t created anything for anyone in thirty years. This person had no idea that I grew up wanting to be a fashion designer, so I asked the question, “what makes you say that?” The response was to the point, “you’d make a killing; you have an eye for it.” This person continued to lift up this idea by saying that in five years I’d have showrooms in New York, Paris, London and Milan. I let it sit with me for a little while and then I tried my luck sewing, first, for myself.

Well, it has taken me a little more than 5 years to achieve the accomplishment of showing in all these places (Milan this September) and many other locations. I may be a little older than the traditional fashion designers, but I’ll tell you this: if there is something you’ve been wanting to do but there are barriers in your way, whether self-imposed or not, I say DO WHAT THEY THINK YOU CAN’T. Surround yourself with the people that believe in you (and even better those that believe in you MORE than you believe in yourself because they will keep you accountable). So it brings me back to the stories…

I have had a spiritual awakening in some ways since visiting the Old San Ysidro church and letting the fact that I will be showing in an Italian monastery built in the 1400’s (both are deconsecrated or no longer used for religious services). I felt like there’s stories that I’m fascinated by, whether mythological or from biblical history and this would be the perfect venue to bring them to life. As I’ve said before, I tend to be more inspired by what I’m experiencing in life and these stories resonate to me. Here’s a couple of examples.

In March 2021, two weeks before my mastectomy and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I took a quick trip into NYC. I knew this was not the correct protocol to be traveling just weeks before my surgery, but there was a temporary statue that I needed to see because it was going to be taken down before I could get back out there. The sculpture, Medusa with the Head of Perseus, by Luciano Garbati was installed in Collet Pond Park and faced New York County Criminal Courthouse. If you’ve ever read mythology or heard the tales, you may have heard about Medusa.

In every mythology movie I remember seeing, Medusa was the monster with snake wielding hair and a stare that would turn you to stone. As I learned about this particular sculpture, I felt called to visit it. If you don’t know this tale, I’ll share a quick synopsis of what I’ve heard and read.

Medusa was a beautiful maiden who was raped by the sea god Poseidon in Athena’s temple. She, the victim, was blamed and turned into a Gorgon–a mythological monster–with a lethal gaze and a crown of snakes upon her head by Athena. According to Greek Mythology, she was beheaded by “the hero” Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danaë, with the help of Athena and other gods and her head was the trophy. What I loved about the sculpture, is it flipped the script on the story we’ve been told. In this version, she is carrying the head of the man sent to kill her in one hand and a sword in the other. At the time, I saw myself in that story. My Perseus was cancer.

Another story I’ve been delving into A LOT lately, is The Chosen. This television series is biblically based with a little creative spin to bring some humanity to the divine and tie the gospels and old testament all together. The story follows Jesus, His apostles and disciples. I love how it dives deeper into these followers lives as they grapple with things like forgiveness, doubt, faith and humility. I try to wrap my head around being alive at the time of Jesus and especially being one of His chosen. I love all the characters but I’ve always been drawn to Mary Magdalene. She had a troubled past. According, to Luke 8:2, “as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out;” Yet, she was called out by name and the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection. Mary Magdalene’s story is about repentance, devotion and transformation. It is also about forgiveness—and even more so, forgiving ourselves. As I started thinking of my mood board for this look, the quote from Oscar Wilde came to mind, “The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future.” I think sometimes we forget that we are continually growing and evolving (or at least I hope so). That transformation reminds me of the butterfly which has also been a symbol in the faith.

I hope you see how I’ve been inspired. Those are two of the 11 stories that will play-out in the performative segment of La Vita E Un Dono. I plan to share more with you from Mary mother of God, to Cassiopeia, to Susannah. Stories of tenacity, audaciousness, humility, redemption, empowerment, growth and beauty. I can’t wait to share those with you along with the looks I will be taking to Italy.

I’ve got the venue, 11 models lined up, volunteers in place, a third of the tickets sold, and have added another incredible sponsor—thank you all for this tremendous support sooner rather than later. Thank you Jennifer Graham Realty for joining Alpha-Lit Albuquerque Santa Fe as presenting sponsors and All About You Events as an in-kind sponsor.

All that’s missing is you! Go to the EVENTS page for the details. Let’s share stories over a Limoncello Spritz on August 25th!

With light and love,
Dara Sophia Romero


Hi there! Remember me? How have you been? I know it’s been months and months since I last wrote. And honestly, I’ve tried, but I guess I haven’t had the right words. I’ve had several friends ask if they missed a post which made my heart happy, because they said they enjoy reading along my Ms. Adventures. I guess I’ve been in this weird purgatory type space where I haven’t had a million things going on, yet I guess I have. I’m a high-performing manic. The more I have going on the more I flourish, but when something gets in my way or I get in my head I become absolutely avoidant and check out from everything. 2024 got me feeling this way with a sense of uneasiness. I don’t know about you, but this hits differently.

2020 – the world pandemic;
2021 – I was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy (5 weeks recovery) and radiation therapy (6 weeks of daily treatments);
2022 – broke my ankle and because of subsequent surgery was out of work for 6 weeks; and
2023 – had reconstructive surgery that resulted in 4 days ICU and 8 weeks recovery.

Yet through all these years I was excited to overcome these obstacles and live my best life. And, boy I did. I created beautiful memories with family and friends here at home, across the country and abroad. Since I last wrote, I traveled with my BF to NYC for the holiday season and celebrated NYE in Denver, and I survived another retail holiday season (if you’ve never worked retail, you have no idea what an accomplishment it is). I started January full of promise, big eyed and bushy tailed. I used points to book a flight to NYC for fashion week in February and a trip in April to Austin in April to be extra ears for a friend considering buying into a franchise and then my champagne dreams on a beer budget went flat.

Have you seen this? OMGEEE I can so relate. If you asked my brother, I bet he’d say that was me growing up…righting the wrongs. You go Marnie! Bloody Hell!!

Maybe it’s the economy? And the uneasiness of a presidential election year? And the potential of war around the world? Maybe I’m just old and pay more attention to these things than I should, but I’ve never cancelled trips before. January I got hit by major car issues and I think what I was most upset about is the fact that I was taken advantage of and paid for preventative maintenance to only find out that it wasn’t performed. At the same time I had past debt pop up…blah blah blah…we all have debt (well, maybe not everyone) but I feel like Dallas, the clairvoyant from NYC, profoundly stated years ago on 5th Avenue, “you constantly take 1 step forward and end up taking two steps back”.

One day when I was figuring out why I haven’t been ahead since 2020, I realized over the past three years because of medical expenses I’ve lost out on $25,000 in income (that doesn’t include estimated income lost from retirement savings). And don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful to be healthy, to have a job and healthcare and for some reason I am incredibly blessed because God always finds a way to provide. I was working overtime and gratefully had commissioned dresses to help pay one of my debts down quickly. I was working toward another when last week I was informed, that overtime is no longer available to me. Sometimes you have to go with the flow…but I also understand how, in this economy, someone can be severely impacted by one major expense like medical or automobile expense. So, when I am asked for help, I CANNOT NOT help.

There were fashion shows and drives. At times I feel like I am the richest woman in the world because of the incredible people in my life and the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me. 2024 has been no different. In February, I was approached by another production company to show in MILAN, ITALY (yes, for fashion week). After reviewing the proposal, the 10,000 euros in production costs was out of my budget. But what do they say, “what comes around goes around?!” Last month, I received an invitation from the production company that produced my Paris Fashion Week show in 2023. The proposed production costs were a third of the former and about 2,000 euros less than Paris. This really gave me food for thought (but more on that in a minute),

I’ve battled demons that won’t let me sleep
Called to the sea but she abandoned me

But I won’t never give up, no, never give up, no, no
No, I won’t never give up, no, never give up, no, no

Never Give Up, Sia

A couple of weeks ago, I had my annual breast MRI. And as any woman that has dealt with breast cancer or questionable scans, you know the feeling of apprehension and anxiety and want to get through the tests as quickly as possible. MRIs are uncomfortable as it is because the tube you are drawn into can lead to a feeling claustrophobia. Breast MRI requires you to lay on your chest balancing on a rod along your sternum while trying to stay as straight as possible. Added excitement for me happens when my veins hear that an IV is coming. They immediately hide (no matter how much water I drank the day before), so that just adds to the fun. The only redeeming factor of this procedure is that the medical staff asks if you’d like to listen to music while you lay as still as humanly possible. The first time I had an MRI, I was asked the same question and big dummy me said, “I’d like to listen to Lady Gaga radio”. That was the most difficult 20 minutes in my life (how can you listen to Lady Gaga and not want to dance?). But after that, I’ve learned I can listen to Sia radio because I listen intently to her lyrics and find solace in that thunderstorm. After clicks and strumming of the machine and praise for my ability to stay still, the session was over. The next day, I received a call from scheduling, the appointment I had with my breast surgeon for the next week needed to be rescheduled. I guess my mammogram wasn’t scheduled so it too needed to be added. The woman scheduled both for August, so of course I felt that the MRI must have went well since there wasn’t a rush to meet with doctor. I went on with the rest of my week.

That following Sunday, after a full day of activities, I stopped by the post office to pick up my mail because I had been told that I should have received an invitation. I didn’t find the invite within my mail bundle but instead a letter from the office that performed my MRI. In the letter, it stated that I had just performed my screening and there was something found within that required an additional look. The letter also included a note that said most of the time there is nothing to worry about (sure tell that to someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer). And what the hell, why didn’t they call (the letter was dated the day after I had my doctor appointment rescheduled). I think my heart fell into my stomach and anxiety set in. I tried with the best intentions to just go to sleep. Monday morning, I called to reschedule my mammogram to an earlier date because of this finding. The associate on the phone was kind and helpful. She scheduled me for the next morning. I wasn’t sure there was anything to worry about but the unknowing is the hardest thing, so I went on that day working on a commissioned dress. I have found focusing on something outside myself is the best stress relief for me.

I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived

Alive, Sia

I arrived at the appointment. The mammogram technician asked the obligatory questions about the visit, “have I noticed any changes in my breast or did I have any concerns?” I responded about the note I received. She read her notes and said there wasn’t anything specific noted for her to image and that the MRI scan came back benign, but she would do her due diligence. If there was anything that needed a further, they’d pull me in for an ultrasound. I went through the contorted smashing of my breast and then was ushered to the waiting room. The ultrasound would be next.

This waiting room…what can I say. It is set up like a spa waiting area with water and tea available, soothing music, art on the walls and tables and a big window overlooking the dirt parking lot next door. I understand the concept but as I looked around the room at the women who were there with me awaiting their next step, one was pacing and one was softly crying. I got up to get water and offered to get the woman next to me who was in her feels a drink too. About 10 minutes later, I was called into the dark ultrasound room. The sonographer remembered me from the year before, I guess when you’re asked what you do and you say you’re a personal stylist at Macy’s, and the only one in Albuquerque, it’s a lasting impression. Although, now that I think about it, none of my medical team has come into see me after they constantly say they need to. I guess it’s hard to go from scrubs to real clothes, but I digress. After each click of the machine, I couldn’t help to think what is she photographing, but a few minutes later she gave me a napkin to clean up the goop and said she was going to get the doctor. I sat there as I heard the two of them talking when the door opened the doctor was talking about his daughter getting a fellowship to Oxford when the sonographer redirected him by introducing me to him. He went on to introduce himself say something like, “everything is clear; see you in a year.” Who says bedside manner is dead. LOL!

I put my armor on, show you how strong I am
I put my armor on, I’ll show you that I am

I’m unstoppable
I’m a Porsche with no brakes
I’m invincible
Yeah, I win every single game
I’m so powerful
I don’t need batteries to play
I’m so confident
Yeah, I’m unstoppable today

Unstoppable, Sia

I left with a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I got in my car and said a prayer of gratitude and texted the few people that knew what I was going through over the past 48 hours. I then realized, this is my life. I all I can do is live life to the fullest every day and pray for good results but you never know what’s ahead of you. If you are still with me (and I hope you are). I’m going to share a little more how this continued to hit home.

At a recent graduation party, I was asked to highlight a verse or scripture in the Bible for the graduate to take with them on their next chapter. I was stopped in my tracks because there is so many beautiful passages and knowledge found to share that I got overwhelmed and wrote a note instead. A few nights ago, I read this passage from Romans and I was overwhelmed with emotion (so intensely that tears streamed down my face) because I thought of the suffering and struggles of the past few years. I then remembered the suffering this love experienced and how there is so much hope for the future, so I sent a text with this passage and I explained my delay and asked that it be highlighted from me with love. 🤍💜🤍 I’ve said this before, but you can’t life a full life without suffering and as much as we all hate it (I know I’m generalizing, some sadists enjoy it), it softens us and makes us more human—built by perseverance and relishing in hope and joy. I have also found that it pushes me to do all the things even when I feel it’s not possible but all things are possible through my faith and the support around me.

This past week, I was once again reminded that Life is a Gift (La Vita e un Dono). Since I began creating under the label, Hopeless + Cause Atelier almost 9 years ago, I have been gifted with some incredible people. People who have become friends and family. Creative beautiful souls that I’ve been able to bring along these Ms. Adventures all over the world. Our lives have been connected with the thread to create beauty, confidence and self-empowerment through fashion and design. Sadly, this week we said good-bye to one of those beautiful souls. I met Jocelyn Lopez in 2017 through an introduction of a mutual friend. Jocelyn, who by profession, was a hair artist jumped in to help with one of my local shows and when I had my first opportunity to show for New York Fashion Week, she relished at the chance to join me and help me bring my creations to life. I still remember the morning she, another stylist friend and I met and talked about the looks. She assembled the team and not only did we rock the hometown preview but also took NYFW by storm. Last year, when she heard I was going to Paris she asked if she could join me for hair. I sent a request to the production company asking if she could join the local team. I wish I would have pushed harder because as I wrote before, the hair team showed up late and we ended up helping the models with their hair needs. As I read her obituary, her sister wrote that one of her biggest professional accomplishments was working NYFW and that made my heart happy that I could be part of that. Her excitement and zest for life and travel will be missed, but I think I can honor her by living life to the fullest and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to me.

Again the fragility of life, reminded me to go after all the things life has to offer. It will all sort itself out. It also isn’t lost on me that tomorrow June 10th, is the one year anniversary since my gram died.

So I did it, I signed the contract and am planning to do Milan Fashion Week on September 19, 2024. I am once again planning a hometown preview to help defray the costs and provide some fashionable entertainment to my friends and family in the Albuquerque community. I am grateful that Alpha + Lit Albuquerque Santa Fe has already committed to sponsor (thank you Tanya) and Carol Crist from All About You Weddings and Events has come on board as an in-kind sponsor helping with the planning of the event because this girl can use all the help she can get. I hope you will save the date for August 25, 2024. It is a Sunday and I am planning a brunch time show for the Atelier’s 9th birthday. Once I secure the location, I’ll share ticket information. However if you know any beautiful venues, a lovely garden would be perfect, please send those ideas my way.

Until then, you can catch Hopeless + Cause Atelier at Meow Wolf’s Absolute Rubbish: a Trashion Show on Thursday, June 13th in Santa Fe. I am partnering with my beautiful friend, Sofi, to bring to life the Phoenix…guess whose music she’ll be bringing to life the look to?!?

I hope to be back soon with more information and I’ll be remixing my obstacles to opportunities, my suffering into gratitude and my avoidance to action.

I’m goin’ to fly, goin’ so high
Goin’ to live, live my life
Goin’ to fly, I’m so high
Live my, live my life

One night in Milan is like one year in rehab
Let’s cancel all our plans, it’s a- (ah, pleasure, pleasure)

One Night, Sia

With light and love,
Dara Sophia Romero

My Favorite F Words

May it be Your will, G‑d, our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that You should lead us in peace and direct our steps in peace, and guide us in peace, and support us in peace, and cause us to reach our destination in life, joy, and peace (If one intends to return immediately, one adds: and return us in peace). Save us from every enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts on the trip, and from all kinds of punishments that rage and come to the world. May You confer blessing upon the work of our hands and grant me grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us, and bestow upon us abundant kindness and hearken to the voice of our prayer, for You hear the prayers of all. Blessed are You G‑d, who hearkens to prayer.

Telfilat Haderech, The Traveler’s Prayer in English, translation from chabad.org (my dear friend, Emet, left this voice message for me in Hebrew years ago–I listen to it every time I travel)

If you’ve known me for a while, you’ve heard about my desire to do a fashion, food, football and faith tour of Europe. Challenge (mini-challenge) accepted. Here’s how these F words and more made it into this trip…

I felt like I had just fallen asleep when my alarm went off at 4:15am. I had packed and repacked, took a shower and laid out my clothes the night before so all I had to do in the morning was dress and brush my teeth. I wasn’t even going to put my contacts in because I knew I’d try to sleep again on the first leg. Isaiah arrived at 4:25am and sent a text asking if I was awake just a few minutes before he unlocked and opened the front door. We loaded up the car and headed to the airport in a silent drive as I’m sure we were both still asleep. As he approached the Southwest drop off point, I recognized the people who were parked at the curb. Shannon and Teresa, my travel companions, had also arrived. Isaiah unloaded my bags, gave me a hug and asked me to send him text updates throughout the next day and a half of my travel.

DAY 1 & 2 – SEPTEMBER 20-21, 2023 – FLIGHTS

If anyone is Christmas shopping for me, I’m a size window seat in plane tickets.

Then it hit me, right there at the airport on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, we were on our way to Paris for my latest Ms. Adventure for Paris Fashion Week. The excitement fed my adrenaline and it made me so happy to see that Shannon and Teresa were just as excited. We checked our bags at the counter and worked our way through security. It seemed like half of Albuquerque had also decided to travel on this morning, as the lines were the longest I had seen in quite sometime. We got settled and talked about the adventure ahead of us when Shannon pulled out little travel bags for each of us filled with face masks, lip balm, hand sanitizer, motion sickness patches, hand bag hooks and hat holders….such incredibly thoughtful things that set the mood to the entire trip.

Our Southwest flight would take us to Dallas for our connection to LaGuardia in NYC. We got on the plane and took what became our customary selfie, it’s what we would do throughout our travels. We had a short layover before boarding the next leg to NYC. We arrived just before 3:00pm and our international flight was departing from JFK, which with traffic could be a car ride anywhere from a 45 minute to 1.5 hours depending on the traffic, so we grabbed fries from Shake Shake (the best burger and fries joint there is…In-n-Out fans, come at me bro!), grabbed our bags and ordered an Uber. I wish we had time to grab lunch in the city or see anything more than Manhattan skyline from the traffic we experienced going from the Flushing neighborhood of Queens to the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens (and there was a lot). We checked in with more photos and packing adjustments.

We got to our gate and had a proper meal from Shake Shack. We had a little bit of time so we checked email, talked about the upcoming days and just rested. As we started to board, I could feel the excitement rising even more. After grinning ear-to-ear, as I saw Shannon and Teresa in their seats, I took mine. The captain announced all the details as the on plane safety video went into effect. I was ready for take off but our plane was not. It felt like we did a couple of laps around JFK before we finally took to the air. I started a conversation with my seat mate (I always grab a window seat for red-eye flights so I can try some sort of contorted sleep). He asked what I was going to Paris for. I explained I was participating in Paris Fashion Week. I could see the wheels turning in his head. I do not have the stereotypical look of a fashion designer. I was wearing my jogger jumpsuit, a NYC sweatshirt, and my Adidas (I know you’re singing Run DMC right now) with glasses and hair in a bun but I was also dressed this way because this was also my red-eye sleeping attire . As he asked questions on what it took to show in Paris fashion week, I explained all my accomplishments from NYC to London to major magazines like Vogue and Elle and how I received an invitation from this particular production company. I continued the conversation and asked about his travels, after we landed in Paris he was continuing on to Berlin for what I had read just hours earlier is a marathon that draws close to 50,000 participants. It was a great conversation about accomplishing goals. Dinner service started and then I attempted to wind down and hopefully get a little sleep. Sadly, I’m not one of those travelers that can fall asleep in any setting. I did get an hour or two until the pilot announced that we were on our descent. EEK we had arrived! We gathered our on board luggage and headed off the plane to a eerily empty gate. We walked for a while before we to border patrol and got our stamp for France (on my last European Ms. Adventures, I only received a stamp in France as England had gone to biometric scanning for passports). We gathered the rest of our luggage and hailed a taxi to Noisy-Le-Grand, our home away from home (and home base) for the next two weeks.

Our home base for the two weeks (kind of looks like Emerald City from Wizard of Oz, doesn’t it?!?).

I was nervous about being in Paris. If you recall the last time I went, I was afraid that I’d have cigarettes flicked into my hair because I didn’t speak French. Since 2019, I’ve been learning the language off and on through Duolingo and watching as many French sitcoms and movies to get a better feel for the language. I definitely didn’t have a comprehensive vocabulary, but did know a few helpful phrases. When we checked in, I asked, in French, if the front desk attendant spoke English when she obliged, we got checked in and she informed me that our room wasn’t quite ready yet, but they could hold our bags while we went out for breakfast. Luckily, the front desk mentioned there was a mall just across the street…less than a 15 minute walk away. The mall, Les Arcades Centre Commercial, included a grocery store (it reminded me of my youth, going to Juarez supermarkets with each area carved out like shops within a marketplace–produce, cheese, bakery, meat, wines, etc), post office, florist, wine shop, lots of fabulous clothing shops and American favorites like Starbucks, McDonalds, H&M and Zara. However, we were seduced by Paul’s and their delectable case-line filled with pastries like Tarte de Pommes, Beignets, Croissant and Pain au Chocolate, which is what I settled on, plus a Cafe au Lait. I WAS IN HEAVEN!! After exploring a bit, jet lag set in and we settled into our room and talked about our plans for the next couple of days: Friday–Palais du Versailles and Saturday–Les Puces flea market.


Queens twirl in palaces…that’s all.

The weather was cool and a little dreary with spots of rain, but it looked like the afternoon would be clearing up. So based on the weather, we decided to get tickets for 13:30 (it’s military hours in Europe, so not only did we have to translate to PM hours but when we were talking to folks back home we had to remember we were 8 hours ahead–yes, it got confusing at times). I had predetermined a few of my looks for this trip. I had come across a pink tulle skirt at work and I thought I could make it more edgy with a muscle tee (avec shoulder pads) and kicks. When going to a palace one must twirl in a “coquette style” pink skirt. So we headed out to Versailles.

Somethings to know about Paris: 1) traffic is horrendous and 2) there is graffiti everywhere. Most of the time our Uber drivers avoided Paris proper but still it seemed like we were always stuck in traffic. We arrived to the grandeur that is know as Palais du Versailles. It drizzling and we had to get in line for our time slot, which was long, but moved rather quickly. The palace or Chateau was celebrating 400 years and had recently renovated Petit Trianon, or Marie Antoinette’s villa away from court life. I was so excited to see this and the Hall of Mirrors. We chatted with students in front of us and Americans behind us. Knowing me, you know I like to stay behind the scenes not drawing much attention to myself, but our new friends asked what brought us to Paris and Shannon, who is such an incredible cheerleader for her friends, brought up the fact that I was showing for Paris Fashion Week and Teresa was walking for me. Again, that imposter syndrome set in I just blushed in gratitude.

The palace was incredible with room-after-room of extravagance and beauty and the view of the gardens from each window was breathtaking, but the Hall of Mirrors stopped me in my tracks. It was grand and lavish and so many important world events have taken place in this room. It was one of the reasons I wanted to visit and it was well worth it. We worked our way through the military halls and other museum spaces until we came to the end and were quite famished, luckily Angelina was on the premises and we settled for a late lunch. I learned early on that wine is cheaper than water in Europe. And, it’s gooood stuff. After we ate, we decided to walk the grounds. We started out but the gardens alone seemed like it went on forever (according, to the Versailles website the palace, gardens, buildings, park and Trianon are 800 hectares or 2,000 acres).

There was so much to see and so much we weren’t able to fit in (until next time).

Shannon made the right decision for us to jump on the train to get the most out of the gardens and park. As we were riding, the driver talked about certain areas that were closing. I overheard that the stop we were currently at was the Petit Trianon, or Marie Antoinette’s apartment home. I hoped off and quickly ran through the beautiful space with brightly decorated rooms filled with champagne, billiards tables, busts of the queen, even commode rooms decorated regally, and of course they had a staged “cake”. Besides the Hall of Mirrors, this was my other MUST SEE and I’m so happy I did. Friday, I’m in love…with Versailles.


I may work in fashion but I’m a thrifter at heart.

When I decided to do a 10-hour trip to Paris in 2019, I reached out to two friends whom have family in France Sofi and Jamie, They gave me great tips to fill my hours, so when I returned I asked Jamie again about a place she has lovingly posted about over the years, the Paris flea market or Marche aux Puces. We took another Uber to Saint Ouen just north of the 18th arrondissement. We were dropped off under a bridge filled with parked cars and for a half moment I thought we were walking in China Town, NYC. The first few rows of vendors were the type I think of going to flea markets: faux luxury brand goods, electronics, and household items, but the deeper and deeper we walked the more wonderful it became. Antique shops. Shop owners sitting al fresco at their bistro tables with lunch and wine ready to make a deal to the patrons walking by. Beautiful secret gardens and historic finds like WWII badges and early 1900’s French made ceramics. I travel with my mini Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Jude retablos and I found the perfect St. Michael the Archangel to add. We visited this sublime vintage Chanel store. It was quite lovely to see all the jewelry, bags and clothing by the house of Coco as well as the other designers contained with in.

We had our own lovely lunch al fresco. We started with dessert–a fig tart that was divine then moved on to wonderful French dishes and of course wine (it was Rose all day, pretty much everyday for me). Shannon had found a beautiful quilted Chanel bag at another vintage shop earlier in the day when she decided she must have it so we went back and it was fun to see her so giddy about her purchase. We continued on to a quaint antique shop and the shop keeper asked what brought us to Paris and Shannon talked about our upcoming days. The shop keeper shared some great ideas to continue the fashion momentum like the Musee D’orsay, Palais de Tokoyo, Musee de la Mode and Musee Yves Saint Laurent. They all sounded amazing. It would be a matter of fitting them in on our few days with nothing planned. Next, I wanted to take Shannon and Teresa to Galleries Lafayette Haussmann. Which was my introduction to Paris in 2019 and the place I got my bearings. The rooftop provides an incredible 360 view of Paris.

Of course it was quite crowded for a Saturday afternoon and my friends got a little distracted by the luxury shops: Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, etc on the first floor, then again on the eighth floor when they spied all the fun souvenirs they could take home, but I finally got them to the rooftop and the breathtaking view of Paris. On September 11, 2019, I arrived alone to the rooftop and shared a little video that I had made it to Paris, so of course I had to do something similar. We took a few photos and then made our way back down. It was a shopping mecca and once again Shannon was drawn to Chanel. The gals bought lots of goodies. I left with my favorite, macarons from Pierre Herme. For dinner, we settled for a local chain, Hippopotamus, known for their steak options. Shannon was thinking aloud about this option, “STEAK DE CHEVAL CLASSIQUE”. Immediately, I was glad for my Duolingo and asked her if she wanted to eat horse. She cringed and said, “no” and I was glad I didn’t have to witness that. I don’t recall what she ordered, but I chose the salmon. We returned to the hotel and packed for Rome and Nice.


Life is short, do all the things.

When we got back to the hotel, Teresa and Shannon wanted to wash some clothes for the next leg and after packing and repacking, I don’t think they crashed until after 1am. I am a light packer, planning to take only my backpack for the next 4 days. Our flight out of Orly to Roma Fiumicino was departing at 7:10am so we caught an Uber at 5am. We checked into our gate and grabbed a bite to eat and coffee and as we were sitting there I realized that the flight attendants that were waiting to board “our gate” were wearing Portugal uniforms, when I looked up to see that the gate had changed. We rushed over to our new gate just in time to board. The two hour flight got us into Rome a little after 9:00am as we deplaned, we looked to go through customs to get our passport stamped. No such luck but as we stopped and looked a man asked if he could assist us. We explained our situation and he mentioned since we traveled from France we were traveling through the European Union and wouldn’t need to go through customs. At the same time another man approached us and asked if we needed a taxi, as Teresa and I started talking to him, another man approached and started taking pictures of her. That freaked us all out. The first man gave us some more advice. He said to only accept rides with the white taxis and go to the official taxi line outside. It was great way to wake us up and prepare for the time in Rome. As we drove, from the airport into the city the landscape went from fields and farms to a city filled with ancient ruins and newer buildings. Cars were parked every where…in the medians on the side walks, like Paris, the vehicles were much smaller than the US. And also like Paris, graffiti was everywhere.

This was our view from our bedroom window in Rome.

I had been communicating with the hotel over the course of the last few weeks through WhatsApp. The hotel and suites, Little Queen Suite, only has an attendant from 8am to 1pm, so I made sure to let them know when we landed and were on our way. We arrived at our non-descript hotel (really, it was a large door with a buzzer and no sign overhead). I was a little nervous about what I had booked. As we walked inside, we came across the smallest elevator I had ever seen. The three of us could squeeze in there like sardines, but there would be no way luggage would fit, so I opted to take the stairs since Teresa and Shannon had small roller bags. We checked in with Marta. She mentioned that the room was being cleaned and would be ready in about an hour and suggested we grab a bite to eat. We left our bags there and headed out across the Torre del Papito piazza dei Calcarari we found a little pizza shop. The nice thing about being in Italy is that Italian is close to Spanish. Teresa is fluent in Spanish and Shannon and I know enough to get by. We settled on Arancini (heavenly fried rice and cheese balls), zucchini pizza and wine/Aperol Spritz (because when in Rome).

“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat. Pray. Love.

Sitting there it hit me, “Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” As I looked at the ruins around us it got a little heavy as I thought about the beginnings of Hopeless + Cause Atelier and I remembered after I delivered Jennifer her first look for Diner en Blanc how I went home and watched, “Eat. Pray. Love.” and how this line impacted me. And as I watched it again, how the word “Tutti” (Italian for everybody) came to play in those that I’ve been blessed by supporting me and those I have been able to bring along for the ride. This would be the first time I would cry on this trip, not of sadness but instead deep gratitude knowing I was meant to be there in that moment with my friends. It was still early in the day and we had received a map from Marta. Realizing that the Pantheon was less than a 10 minute walk, from there the Trevi Fountain was another 6 minute walk and less than 10 minutes was the Spanish Steps. We went back to the hotel. Our room was lovely, but the view, breathtaking. There were three of us throughout our travels so the rooms were typically a queen bed and a twin or sofa bed. Since I move so much in my sleep, I told them I’d take the later. The thing about this room is that the shower area was open with glass walls. I didn’t understand how anyone in a room that accommodates more than two people (so more than just your lover) could take a shower as it was, so we made a make shift wall out of towels for privacy. A very European addition in the water closet was a bidet. I had seen them before but hadn’t stayed in the room that had that option (and for my 50 new things goal this year, I made sure to use it). We freshened up and set out on our walking adventure. Sadly, the day before Shannon did something to hurt her knee and we were in the walking capital with thousands of stairs, but she was a trooper through it all.

It was the first Sunday of autumn and the streets were bustling with people. The weather was warmer that we had planned for. We had heard from friends and family about pickpocketing so we made sure to keep our wallets close (I wore a crossbody where the bag laid across my chest). I plugged in our destination in Google Maps and put an earbud to guide us. We arrived at the Pantheon in sheer awe. The building is thousands of years old and the magnitude of the columns and dome was incredible to believe that humans built it without modern tools, and as the YouTube link, contained within, states has been copied throughout the world through the Neo-classical style.

Unfortunately, the line was so long that we opted to move on to the next wonder. However we could feel the heat and with all the shops and restaurants, I suggested we get gelato. Now before this trip. I had no idea there were differences between the gelato in Italy. Teresa educated us on what she learned from TikTok (#fakegelato). Authentic gelato comes in metal tins to keep the right temperature and aren’t piled in mounds. Also, the colors are natural. It was funny to see us pop into the shops to see if they were authentic or not. We decided we’d find one after Fontana di Trevi. But there is so much to see along every street, we popped into Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola, and was amazed by this 17th century Roman Catholic Church featuring trompe l’oeil ceilings (deceiving the eye–or illusionistic ceiling) & frescoes depicting St Ignatius.

We arrived with the crowds to Fontana di Trevi. Again, the incredible beauty of this man made water feature. According to Trevi Fountain Facts, “The legend holds that a coin thrown into the fountain will ensure a return to Rome. This tradition also dates back to the ancient Romans who often threw coins in water to make the gods of water favor their journey or help them get back home safely. Throw in a second coin if you’re seeking love – or even a third for wedding bells!” (https://www.walksofitaly.com/blog/art-culture/9-surprising-facts-trevi-fountain-rome). As we worked our way through the crowds, we made it to the edge to toss in our own coins. I stopped at one–LOL! After a few more photos, we worked our way out but not before we were stopped by street vendors trying to sell electronics and selfie sticks. Shannon haggled with one and got one at a good price. Though out this time, Teresa jumped back on TikTok to find an authentic gelato shop, The Gelatist, and it was on the way to the Spanish Steps. We stopped in and each got our favorite flavor. I opted for Tiramisu. I could eat gelato every day and not feel bad because I knew I’d be walking it off. As we got back on track, we stumbled upon a Sephora, realizing early on I had forgotten my signature red lipstick, I asked if we could pop in.

Spanish steps were made famous by Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

We made it to the Piazza di Spanga. All around us was so much to see: the Spanish Embassy, in front of us Fontana della Baracia, to the left all the luxury brands you could imagine, and to the right the Spanish Steps. There were people, people, people everywhere. I had read weeks before that you couldn’t sit on the steps, let alone stop and stand on them without the police asking you to move or citing you. Maybe they gave breaks on Sunday? Because there were people sitting and standing everywhere. Shannon’s knee was not playing nice, so she stayed at the fountain as Teresa and I walked up all 135 of them, pausing at each of the three terraces (referenced to the holy trinity) and going into Santissima Trinità dei Monti. Another beautiful and awe inspiring church. I have to admit when we got to the top I wanted to throw my fist up in the air like Rocky, but I refrained.

When we left the church we looked down to see if we could find Shannon before we made our descent. As we got to the bottom, we decided to head back to the hotel. We were all tired so we thought it would be nice to relax for a bit before we headed out. We figured out we had access to Netflix so I opted to start MILF. It’s a French story about three best friends who go to the French Rivera (une petite coquine). After a little rest, we decided to have dinner at Pasta e Vino Osteria. There was one right out side our hotel with the front door man selling the menu but there was no outdoor seating so we went to the one that was on the other corner of the street (they were literally less than 100 meters away from each other). We were sold by the hand made pasta being made in the front window and the prices. We started with Burrata (which became a must at each meal through out our Ms. Adventures) and wine and then each of us ordered a different dish to share family style. I have to admit I LOVE PASTA and BREAD, but after doing Keto for a few years I have found that I can no longer eat it because it does not love me. This was not the case in Europe. It’s freshly made and I feel like there is less genetically modified wheat used. The food was amazing and the service was exceptional, but I think that’s because our waiter was in love with Teresa. We went back to the room to finish watching MILF fully content.


Say a little prayer for me.

I could write a series of books on all the history we saw on this day, but this is a blog and I don’t want to loose you, so instead I hope to inspire you…so here I go.

As Shannon got ready for the day, Teresa and I went to the cafe around the corner to get espressos and pastries. The neighborhood was already buzzing. We had a scheduled tour of the Vatican and according to google maps, it was a 23 minute walk. As we got half way through Shannon suggested we take the bus or catch a cab. We got an Uber and glad we did as the route was over the River Tiber and the Vatican sits atop a hill (and we still had more that 16,000 steps ahead of us). We were dropped off at the steps of the entrance. It was filled with vendors selling scarves and other items. Dress code for the Vatican required modest dress with arms covered and if wearing a dress or skirt, midi-length and no shorts. I had brought my cardigan but it was already warm so I haggled with the vendor for a beautiful floral scarf. We were a little early for our scheduled time so we walked around and found a cute shop filled with Italian trendy fashion. We shopped for a bit and were able to hold our packages there until after our tour.

We got to our meeting site and met our tour guide, Jag. There were a dozen of us in the English-speaking group, but it was fun that not all of us were Americans. I thought the Vatican was big but I definitely underestimated the size and how much beauty was contained with. As I’ve been telling friends about this trip, I say we visited Paris, Rome, Nice, Monte Carlo and Reims, but I forgot that the Vatican is a city-state and the smallest country in the world…but oh so worldly.

Our tour guide shared that as you walk by this tapestry of Jesus his eyes follow you….yes, they do. Simply amazing.

We walked through the square and before we walked into the museums, our tour guide first talked about the history and the story behind the Sistine Chapel. Again, there were crowds (according to what we were told, there are nearly 30,000 visitors daily). As we walked through I was in awe of the juxtaposition of Egyptian and Roman influence against center of Catholic leadership. There were beautiful sculptures, tapestries, paintings and of course the ceilings. The ceiling frescos amazed me because I couldn’t fathom how they were painted. It’s not like Michelangelo could paint Adam take a step back to see the proportion to God and easily make the edits…from a 66′ ceiling. I was like a kid waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and while the museums were breath taking, I was SO excited when our tour guide said the next room was the Sistine Chapel. We were told there was no speaking (holy space) or taking photos (flash could damage the paintings) while we were in there or we could be escorted out by security or even worse, banned.

Our tour guide may or may not have shared a way to take photos and I may or may not have got a few (you’ll have to judge for yourself in the video). We moved onto St. Peter’s Basilica. Again, I was moved by the massive yet beautiful church. As we walked around, we found that a rosary was going to be said while we were there. What a blessing! We joined in the Italian prayer. It was followed by mass, but because we had a scheduled a twilight tour of Rome. We headed out. But first, a quick shopping stop. The gals found all kinds of good things. I grabbed a few postcards and rosaries but it was so beautiful out, I grabbed a gelato and enjoyed all the traffic in the St. Peter’s Square.

We walked back to OVS, the fashion shop, to pick up our purchases and grabbed an Uber back to the hotel where we quickly freshened up and went to Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia, our meeting spot for the next tour. We met under the balcony in which Mussolini gave many of his famous speeches. Our tour guide greeted us and there was a dozen people in our group. We walked across the street to Piazza del Campidoglio which was designed by Michelangelo. As we walked up the Cordanta through the towering twin statues of Castor and Pollux. I started geek-ing out. While I am a Catholic by faith, I’m a total Greek and Roman Mythology history nerd. We continued through as our tour guide gave us the incredible history of the area. We reached the back side and paused at the Capitoline Wolf and we heard the story of the founding of Rome. The sculpture is of a she-wolf suckling twins Romulus and Remus and like any good Roman story there is a power grab, murder and intercession by gods.

As we walked down the cobblestone path, we were met by one of the over 2,500 nasone (or Roman drinking fountains) with with cool, clean water straight from the aqueducts. After watching our tour guide quench his thirst, I decided to add drinking from a nasoni to my 50 new things to try this year. Once I got a drink, I caught up with the group to arrive at Mamertine Prison. This is where St. Paul and St. Peter were said to be incarcerated in Rome. It was a somber experience. A stop me in my tracks view of the Forum was right around the corner. The Roman Forum, aka ancient city center, was incredible to witness as I took photos, I also took mental notes to learn more about this area when I returned home.

We continued walking along the historic Monti neighborhood. Currently, it is considered a hipster area, however in ancient times it was the seedy, red-light district of Rome, and I did see some of those moments when a fellow tour participant almost tripped over a dead rat as we began our ascent up the the Borgia Stairs. According to legend, “they lead from Via Cavour to Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains). The stairs pass under an ancient building associated with the notorious Borgia family (in particular, Vannozza dei Cattanei, the mistress of Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, and the mother of several of his children, including Cesare and Lucrezia). Legend has it that this was the site of the ancient Vicus Sceleratus (evil street) where Tullia ran her chariot over the body of her father, King Servius Tullius, in 509 B.C.E. Years later, Juan Borgia was assassinated here after leaving the Borgia property, perhaps by his own brother, Cesare. Despite association with these violent events, the staircase is very pretty, with ivy draping down from the building.(https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187791-d11864837-r478680963-Scalinata_dei_Borgia-Rome_Lazio.html)”.

It wasn’t an easy feat and by this time we had walked 18,000 steps. I know Shannon was feeling it but I’m sure she had the same reaction as me when we reached the top and saw the Coliseum. OMGEEE the incredible magnitude and beauty of this graphically haunting place. We descended the hill and arrived front an center of this world’s wonder. It was glorious at night. Our tour ended there and I highly recommend the twilight tour vs. a daytime tour. It is less crowded and hauntingly beautiful. After some confusion about Uber pick up spots, we finally got our ride for a late dinner date at Harry’s Bar. We arrived around 10:30pm and it was quiet. I thought maybe we were shutting the place down, but once we took our seats it seems we drew energy in and within minutes it was bustling. It was a lavish dinner before we headed back to our hotel. Our Uber driver got stopped randomly by the police…kind of scary but we got back to the hotel to pack for our next leg.


Day 6 Rome with the Vatican, the Colosseum, ancient history and dolce vita #msadventures #roma #coloseum #vaticano #cornetto #dolcevita

♬ De Novo Adagio (Intro) – Alicia Keys


Life’s a beach.

After a very late night, I still don’t think we’ve acclimated to our European time zone, Shannon and I slept in. Teresa was determined to go to mass and have the rosaries purchased the day before blessed. She came back to the room around 8am. I was up by this time and the two of us headed out to do some souvenir shopping. We headed to a religious shop that caters to priests. We stocked up on rosaries and other gifts. Teresa gifted me this beautiful sacred heart ornament. We grabbed pastries and coffee and brought it back to the room before packing up and heading to the airport. We left Rome about 11:00 am and arrived in Nice, France about 1:00 pm. As we stepped off the plane, I knew we arrived in a coastal paradise. We grabbed a cab and road along the Promenade des Anglais. The blue sky and blue waters went on as far as the eye could see only dotted by boats. We arrived at our hotel, La Villa Nice Promenade, and checked in. Josie and Jocelyn arrived earlier in the day and were on the beach taking it all in. We only had a couple of hours, at most, before we had to catch the train to Monte Carlo. Teresa and I decided to take a little walk to get the feel for our neighborhood and to see the beach.

We walked along the Promenade de Anglais and Teresa was inspired. She shared with me that her dad had gone parasailing on his honeymoon with her mom in Acapulco, Mexico. In that moment, she decided had to do that while we were there. We didn’t have time that evening so the next morning she made her reservation. We continued on and walked into Hotel Negresco. My friend, Rachel, who visits Nice often, suggested we walk through the hotel because of the amassed collection of artwork and the elegance of the building from the early 19th century. It was one of the many suggestions she provided for our visit (I just wish we had more time). Sadly, we weren’t allowed further than the lobby since we weren’t staying at the hotel. There was a hotel bar but we decided we’d come back when Shannon was able to join us. We continued down the road pass several shops and eateries. I even found a tattoo shop, but we didn’t have time for me to inquire about a mastectomy tattoo. We landed at Gelato D’Amore Nice and had a lovely conversation with the owner who was one of the few people we encountered in Europe that knew New Mexico was part of the United States and not part of Mexico. We got some gelato for ourselves and Shannon and headed back to the hotel.

We started to get ready for the evening and I had texted Josie we’d meet her and Jocelyn in the lobby. Shannon and Teresa were still getting ready when I decided to head down to meet them. As they finally came down, we ordered an Uber to get to train station. We arrived just minutes before our train was to depart so we ran through the train station and luckily got on before the train took off. Thirty minutes later we arrived in Monaco. The terrain of Monte Carlo is rugged and hilly, so upon departing the train station we heading to the casino. It was a 12-minute walk descending the hill side. While normally it wouldn’t be much of a walk, but everyone, except me, were wearing heels. We walked through the Casino Garden and the luxury shops were surrounding us. I knew high rollers lived here. We had a problem. We were probably about a 100 yards from the Casino, but there was a line to get in. It was close to 7:00 pm and Uber is not permitted in Monte Carlo so we tried to order taxis with no luck, so we were going to have to walk to La Mome for our 7:30 pm reservation. I made the reservation before we left Paris and had to guarantee it with a credit card. Late or no-show reservations would incur a 50 euros per person charge, so unfortunately we didn’t go into the casino and started our trek to the restaurant which according to Google Maps was a 23-minute walk with a steep decline and switch back. As we walked, I took in the view and imagined Grace Kelly driving down these sloping roads.

Google maps showed the path heading down hill and then switching back to the entrance but just a few minutes into our walk, I saw people in front of us duck into a space and as I looked over I saw it was the menu for our restaurant. The directions were pointing us to the entrance of the hotel that the restaurant was on the top floor of. I could feel a collective YAY as we walked into the restaurant. We were about 15 minutes early, but the hostess sat us with the incredible view of the bay in front of us.

Dinner was wonderful and the views were amazing (both the water and the waiters). We wrapped up just in time to figure out how to head back to the train. We stopped at the hostess station to see if they could help with a taxi. The hostess couldn’t assist us, so she suggested we go down stairs to the hotel front desk. We arrived and I walked up to ask for assistance. The agent informed us that the trains were on strike. We were dumbfounded and asked what do you mean? We just came in on the train. I asked if we could get a taxi back, there were 5 of us, so we’d need a van. He said he could help but couldn’t guarantee an arrival time for the taxi. It could take 10 minutes or it could take 2 hours, it just depends when the few taxis that work the area would be available. Lucky for us, a van arrived about 15 minutes later.

We jumped in when the valet asked if two young men who also needed to get back to Nice could join us. We had room and welcomed them in. We chatted on they way back the two of them were from NYC, one a corporate attorney and the other a corporate auditor. Shannon was intrigued to hear all the places to go when she and Teresa continue on to New York after Europe. We arrived outside our hotel about a half hour later. The two offered to pay for the trip it was 150 euros. The kindness of strangers.


Of anything about this trip I wish there was more of, I wish had more time in Nice.

We got up and ready for the day and Teresa made her reservation for the parasailing adventure. I suggested we spend the morning at Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya. It was a lively farmers market filled with flowers, plants, baked goods (the most incredible macarons and langostino tails–sweet pastry that looks like a lobster tail filled with flavored cream, OMGEE delicious), olives and oils, cheeses, meats, soaps and other gifts. It was a great place to get wonderful souvenirs at great prices.

The late summer sun was bight and cheery, but even though we sampled a few goodies from the market we were famished for lunch. With most of the restaurants touting fresh produce and ingredients from the market. As we walked along, I found the perfect restaurant (it was like someone was guiding me). It was another incredible meal. We decided that we’d walk along the shops to do some more souvenir shopping and so Teresa could find a bathing suit. I bought a hat and pair of slides because I was roasting and could walk along the beach and put my feet in the water (I actually tried on a suit but then decided that no one wants to see that). We walked out to find Fontaine du Soleil and as we were about to get an Uber I noticed an ATM so I told the gals I was going to get some more euros. I set my pin and began the process of withdrawling money and the screen timed out to an error message in French. I left not thinking anything more that the machine was down until two days later I was charged $171 (for the 150 euros I did not get–yeah, that’s a story for another day).

We arrived at the take off spot for Teresa. She changed and got light instructions of what to expect. Shannon stayed in the shade. I walked over to the water and sat on the edge putting my feet in the cool, clear water and I was in heaven. I smiled from ear-to-ear as I watched her take off and soar through out the sky. I know she was loving following her father’s footsteps. Her ride through the sky lasted approximately 20 minutes before she plunged into the water. We gathered our things and headed back to the hotel. We didn’t have enough time to really do much else so we got drinks from the bar and some nosh. Josie and Jocelyn came down for their scheduled car, they had spent time at the casinos. Like I said, I wish I had more time in Nice. I would have liked to explore more and actually spend more time on the beach (although I did get tan after the 45 minutes out there. LOL). We arrived back in Paris later that evening.


Nothing more romantic than a Seine River cruise with four of your friends.

Thursday was a catch up work day. It was filled with washing clothes, catching up on emails, completing tasks and binge watching Emily in Paris. Shannon hadn’t watched the series before so it was fun watching it through her eyes. We had a scheduled dinner cruise on the Seine that evening. So once again we got dolled up and headed into Paris, after a little mis-navigation and some fast running we made it to the boat for a front row view of the banks of the Seine. We enjoyed a very French meal with wine and 1980’s American music. The views were spectacular and the weather was quite warm for late September. After dinner we moved outdoors and watched the beauty of the lights from the Eiffel Tower and caught the Statue of Liberty (yes, Paris has one as well).

Once we returned to dock the boat, we found that the Eiffel Tower was a 15-minute walk so we headed that way. The streets leading to the tower were filled with vendors selling key chains and blinking miniature Eiffel Towers. We stocked up and headed through security and on to the base. It was late and the Tour de Eiffel was closing soon, so we only went up to the second floor and took a bird’s eye view of the area before we had to head down again. We left the park and got into our Uber back to the hotel. As we were sitting in our room we had to figure out travel arrangement for Reims, France the next day. After our issue with the trains in Monte Carlo we opted not to go that route but an Uber was going to be $200 one way after much consideration, we thought we should rent a car, so Teresa reserved one. We decided she and I would walk over in the morning to get it.


You got me poppin’ champagne.

We got up early and headed out to the car rental shop. It was a 15 minute walk and we had to get to Reims by 11:00am for our tour. As we arrived, we found that no one working could speak English and our French was limited. One of the agents could speak Portuguese and Teresa had a limited understanding of it, so they tried but then landed on using Google Translate. It took us a while to process the car because they wanted to put a 2,000 euros hold (which was returned once the car was returned). Luckily, Josie came to rescue and put it on her card. We got in the car and ran back by the hotel to pick up Shannon and hit the road. Now there is crazy traffic and roundabouts everywhere in Noisy-Le-Grand but once we hit the highway it was smooth sailing beyond the occasional tolls. The countryside was picturesque dotted with fields of crops and chateaus. We all voted Teresa to drive and I was her co-pilot. We arrived at Maison Veuve Cliquot within minutes of our appointment. YAY us!

We met with our tour guide, Clementine, and the descended into the belly of the champagne cellars and learned all about the history of the house and especially The Widow Cliquot (Veuve Cliquot) who was the driving force behind the champagne industry.

Emily learning the technique of sediment reducing established by Madame Cliquot

Madame Cliquot innovative ways of turning the bottles removed sediment from the champagne bottles and her blend changed the murky champagne to a clear liquid we drink today. Becoming a widow at the age of 27 years old, she led the company until her death at 89. She was a bad ass! The tour concluded with a tasting. It was fabulous and of course the rose was my favorite. We got a few suggestions for lunch and headed into town. We went to a bistro with French favorites like, coq au vin. We headed back to Noisy-Le-Grand and dropped off the car.


Into the Theater of Dreams…

Football or as you, Americans, call it, soccer, was ruined for me for a hot second. I brought my family into the realm of this sport as I had grown up around it. I was the one to take PTO to watch World Cup games and for decades, Manchester United has been my team. The last time I visited the UK, in 2019, I looked to see if I could make a quick escape to watch them play, but at the time the only time I could see them while I was there coincided with the day I was showing in London Fashion Week, so when I saw that they were playing at Old Trafford on September 30th, I mentioned it to Shannon and Josie. Shannon kept pushing so when I confirmed that there was no PFW obligations, I said let’s do it (this was just days before our departure to Europe). I’m so glad she pushed me, this was definitely a highlight of this trip. We had a mid-morning departure from CDG but when we arrived we found that our flight was delayed.

As I pulled up our tickets, I saw an email from the booking agent that said, “Please do not be concerned by the names on your ticket, each ticket is assigned to an individual or business name at the start of each season which cannot be changed. However, if you are asked by a steward where you obtained the ticket, it’s best to say they were given to you by a FRIEND FREE OF CHARGE. because the seller of your tickets that you bought the tickets from has enabled you to use his tickets for this event. Please do not contact the club directly regarding your ticket as this will result in your ticket becoming void.” I thought, “OH, FUCK” what did I buy. I jumped on the booking agent’s chat and asked that question. The agent responded that I shouldn’t have a problem. So I said a Hail Mary and asked God to let us in.

This trip was a same day fly-in, fly-out. We literally were there just for the game. So when we arrived in Manchester (sadly, no UK stamp) we hailed an English cab and headed toward Old Trafford. It was Teresa’s birthday, so we mentioned it to our cabbie and he played some fun birthday related tunes in her honor. As we arrived, we could see and hear the crowds readying themselves for the game. We popped out of the cab and hit the souvenir stands (I knew Isaiah was going to be mad that I went without him, so I made sure to get him a game day scarf). As we packed up with souvenirs, our driver had mentioned the Christian Ronaldo mural at one of the pubs, so I asked the gals if we could make our way there for some Instagram-able moments (LOL). I did take a photo with the legend, well, at least his mural. It’s England, so of course it was cloudy with one hundred percent of rain, but it was heavenly. We headed over to get the most delicious fish-n-chips. As we indulged, we took our surroundings in before heading in.

I was nervous but we had no problem accessing the building. Thank you, God! We were early so we did a little walk about to take it all in and grabbed a drink before taking our seats. Based on the prices for the tickets we got, I thought for sure we were going to be in the nose bleed section in the 74,000 seat stadium, but we were 6 rows behind the goal. THEY WERE INCREDIBLE!!! We watched the teams practice, the Red Devil come onto the field, and then the teams line up before the game started. When we took our seats there was a landscape of red (for all the open seats) and when the game began I could not see one open. We cheered ManU on like it was our home team and bummed when Crystal Palace got one pass the goalie. We left 15 minutes before the game ended to make sure we missed the crowds and made it to the airport in time. We found another English cab and made our way back to the airport. While we made it back in time, we hit the duty free shops. I was looking for drop earrings to add to my liquid metal dress rope ties and the gals were looking for souvenirs. Teresa had been collecting chocolates for her mom from each of the cities we visited and Shannon was looking for fun gifts to take home. We thought we had excess time only to find out that we needed to rush to our gate. This flight we had to walk out onto the tarmac and then climb the stairs to our seats, Shannon cussed a just little bit. We arrived back in Paris just after 8pm. Now it was time to prepare for PARIS FASHION WEEK.

By the time we got back to the hotel, I decided I wanted to edit one of my dresses. I had originally wanted create a cut out in the liquid metal mini dress but since my niece was wearing it for the hometown preview, I didn’t feel comfortable making it that sexy. So when I returned to the hotel I grabbed a bowel and my sewing kit (I opted not to bring my sewing machine) and copped a squat to sew, I also found some fun crystal drop earrings that I sew into the rope detail. Shannon and Teresa asked if I wanted to go out for dinner but I figured I needed all the time possible so they were thoughtful enough to bring me back some soup. Josie and Jocelyn stopped by to be outfitting in Hopeless + Cause Atelier for the show. Got them set, finished the edit and went to bed in order to be ready for the next day.


This is it. This is what you came for.

I can’t say I slept well that night. I think it finally hit me that I was participating in Paris Fashion Week and at once it was overwhelming. I mentioned feeling imposter syndrome, but it finally hit me. I am here and I deserve to be and there are so many at home that supported this incredible opportunity, so the excitement set in.

I thought it was fitting that we drove past the Arc de Triomphe–like a reminder, that “yes, you’ve completed another goal”.

The show producers said we needed to be at the venue, Les Salons Hoche, by 8:30 am, so I figured we’d leave at 8:00 am since the traffic should be lighter early on a Sunday morning. Teresa, who was modeling for me, had to be there at the same time and I was grateful when Shannon said she join us so she could help me backstage. After the beautiful morning drive we arrived at the venue and checked in backstage we grabbed our table talked to the model coordinator and set up shop. We found Sofi a few minutes later. She had arrived two days before but this is was the first time we saw each other so after a big hug we talked runway.

The models started to trickle in and I would start outfitting them accordingly. Just a few days before, I heard from Carmen, the third model friend I was bringing with me, notified me that she hadn’t received her updated passport and was not going to make it. I sent a message to the model coordinator to find me a replacement, so as they made the rounds they updated my casting list with the models that didn’t make it and I mentioned again that I needed another model added to my line up. They obliged and I had one added just a hour before the show. During this time, Shannon jumped into action steaming the garments that had been in my bag while I was doing the outfitting. Just a few hours before the models were to take the runway, we found out there was only one person there to do hair and a dozen there to do make-up. Shannon was in disbelief with the chaos. This is not my first rodeo so it didn’t affect me as much, there is only one production company, Fashion X, out of Austin that is completely organized. Luckily, Shannon and I brought our hair tools because we had planned to get ready there. The models took them over and got ready near our station.

As I always do, I looked over to appreciate the other designers and their creations. Paris is all about Haute Couture and Avant Gard designs and they were present in this show. My design aesthetic is simple beautiful designs with unexpected elements. They are more sustainable in the way that I don’t overuse material to get my creation across. It’s social wear with a social conscience. A half an hour before the show started, the coordinator asked for all models to take the runway for a run through. Shannon and I took seats at the end of the runway and I suggested that she, Josie and Jocelyn sit there so they’d have the entire view of the runway. Shannon was going to live stream the show on Facebook for anyone who happened to be up at 6:00 am local time.

After the dress rehearsal, it was time to line up the designers. We were third on deck. I asked Teresa to open and Sofi to close. All the models were lined up when I realized I was missing a model, I grabbed as staff member to find her. She had beautifully full hair with curl and was trying to get the hair person to tame it. They were trying to send out the models when I put a halt to it until she could get dressed. It changed my line-up a bit, but everyone was set and sashaying down the runway. At the end the models lined up along the edges, like they did in the Albuquerque show and I was planning just to step out, wave and go back in, but because Shannon, Josie and Jocelyn were at the end I couldn’t see them so I curtseyed and walked out. As soon as I saw them, I was like the Cheshire Cat with a ridiculous smile from ear-to-ear.

It always seems like it takes years to get to the show and it’s done in an instant. But boy, does it feel powerful to achieve dreams. Riding on the high, we decided to go for a bite to eat. We walked around the 8th arrondissement to find one with patio seating. We grabbed tables and started talking. We had a glass of wine to celebrate friends, travel and living life (and grandmas). Sofi talked about getting to Paris and I cried the second time this trip. It made me so happy to have her there and for her to feel good about being there. We ate drank and laughed the night away. We walked Sofi back to her hotel as she stayed near the venue. She showed us the park she wanted to do the photo shoot in and she pointed out a neon sign that made me smile because I knew my angels were with me.

We got an Uber from there and headed back to Noisy-Le-Grand. It was a good day, and I can honestly say I slept well that evening.


Make the most of every opportunity.

Josie and Jocelyn were heading back to the US so I met them downstairs in the hotel about 11:00 am. We had decided to do a photo shoot in Parc Monceau. We spent most of the morning working binge watching and washing clothes. We had two days left. We decided to take the metro into Paris and that was an adventure in itself getting to the right trains, but we did it. We met Sofi at her hotel. She and Teresa changed and we walked over to the park. Sofi is an incredible photographer but because I also wanted her to model we all took turns playing the photographer.

The purpose of this shoot was, well when in Paris you got to take some fabulous editorial photos that will be submitted for publishing. It was golden hour so and the park was filled with nannies and kids, older couples, younger couples and lots of people but we were able to carve out the space we needed with the gorgeous backdrop.

After the gals changed, we walked to a bistro for dinner and more conversation about our trip. We then headed back to the hotel via the Metro and Sofi left the next morning.


This day was 30 years in the making.

There were two things I told Shannon and Teresa I had to do: 1) Paris Fashion Week on Sunday, October 1st and 2) I had to visit La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre on Wednesday, October 3rd.

In May when my friend, Tony, died, I pulled out a box from the shed that contained old yearbooks and photo albums. Two of those photo albums were filled with photos from my mom’s trip to Europe. When my grandma died the following month, the kids came over for brunch and Cati asked if she could look at them and I said, “of course” as she was going through the pages, I stopped her on the page that contained a Mass Missal and I got chills as I read the date, October 3, 1993. When I realized I’d be in Paris on that date, I knew I had to go.

Now that we figured out the Metro I figured out how early we’d have to leave so we could make Mass. However, Shannon wanted to stop by the post office in Les Arcades Centre Commercial to find out how much it would cost to ship back some of her purchases to New Mexico. We then headed on the Metro into Paris. While we were sitting there Teresa was reading headline with her earbuds in and screams out there’s an Outbreak. Shannon and I looked her, eyes wide open and I think shushed her. She didn’t realize she was talking loud. When she took out her earbuds, she told us about the bed bug outbreak in Paris (this is something I would hear about daily from then on out until I returned home–luckily we didn’t bring any unwanted visitors home with us). We arrived at the Montmartre exit and the view from the bottom of the hill was incredible.

As we reached the steps, I asked Teresa to take a photo of me with the program and as I stood there, a flood of emotion hit me. I was at the place my mom was 30 years ago. After I pulled myself together, Shannon and I took the tram up and Teresa walked the steps. I got in the very long line to go in the church, while Teresa and Shannon were taking photos. Thinking it was going to take a long time to go in, I sent them a text letting them know. It moved much quicker than I thought and I got inside before they responded. Sadly, but luckily, I came in at the end of the service but I got to witness some angelic voices of the nuns singing. After mass ended, I went on to explore the basilica until I reached the front pews, then I went in to pray. I felt at peace and extreme gratitude wash over me. As I looked over, I saw printed missals so I grabbed one to take home with me. I then saw Shannon and Teresa and we continued on. We grabbed lunch then shopped for souvenirs and the heaven opened up for about 15 minutes of heavy rain.

After it cleared up we decided to head over to the Louvre Museum. We didn’t have time to go in as it was closing soon by we took photos outside and then headed over the garden. It had changed so much since I was there four years before. Teresa had promised to get yarn for a friend so we headed over to these quant shops found in an alley before heading back to the hotel.


Day 14 Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre et Musée du Louvre 30 years in the making #louve #montmarte #paris #mom #love #msadventures #travel #doallthethings

♬ Autumn Leaves – Timothy Cole


Wednesday we woke early to head to the airport for our 11:00 am flight back to New York. I checked my phone and found a text message from the airlines, Delta, stating the flight had been delayed to 2:00 pm, which meant that the previous arrival time of 2:00 pm EST was now changed to 4:30 pm. We talked about what we should do and decided that we should still get to the airport early just in case the delay was shortened. We couldn’t get a large Uber, while there was only 3 of us our luggage wouldn’t fit in a smaller vehicle, so I took one and Shannon and Teresa took another. Because of morning traffic, I arrived at Charles de Gaulle about 45 minutes later. During the commute, I was texting Delta customer service to find out my options because I was flying back to Albuquerque that evening. My time between flights went from 6 hours to 3 and a half hours. I wouldn’t think much about it except that I was coming in from one terminal having to go through customs, get my bags, go to another terminal, go through security and get to the corresponding gate. I remained positive and checked-in my bag and proceeded through security. I arrived earlier than the gals who had to process their tax credits and Shannon was looking for another suitcase for her goodies.

I walked through the duty free areas and did a little shopping that I could pack in my carry on bag. I found that Veuve Cliquot was about $30 cheaper than in the states so I bought a bottle and some other treats. Then I passed the fragrance section and was stopped in my tracks. I looked at the yellow and white striped bottle and had to walk in to smell the signature scent of my mom…Giorgio of Beverly Hills. I remember being in high school and at one point I think she experienced olfactory fatigue because she couldn’t smell the scent but boy, I could. LOL! Smelling the tester I was immediately transported back in time.

I moved on to Paul’s for my last Pain du Chocolate and lunch. I gave them the meal ticket provided by Delta as an apology for the delay (dear Delta, a 15 euro pass is not enough of an apologize for the inconvenience…I’m just a little bitter, but you’ll find out why). Hours passed and our gate changed twice. As we were sitting there ready to board, the departure time changed to 2:30pm. I couldn’t help to notice that the crew was sitting with us, our plane wasn’t even at the gate. We started to board about 2:45 pm. I finally got to my seat after 3:00 pm. My seat mate was from NYC and returning from a food and wine tour of Italy (maybe next time?!?). I settled in and prayed that I made it in enough time to make my flight (Shannon and Teresa were staying a few days in NYC). We arrived in NYC after 5:00pm. I jumped off the plane waving good by to Teresa and Shannon, as I ran down the gate to get to customs, only to find the longest line ever. Then I saw a note to download the customs app for quicker processing. I did just that and jumped the line went through the corridor to another serpentine line. I made friends with the people near me as we were all flabbergasted by the non-moving line. The TSA agent mentioned that one line was moving quicker than the other, but I think he was playing a game with the travelers because when we moved to the other line it remained stagnant. I had made acquaintances with a couple when I told then of my desire to make my flight in time. The boyfriend and I stayed in the line while the girlfriend moved to the other one. She moved through through her line quicker so we popped out and joined her, when I found Teresa ahead of us. She and Shannon had downloaded the app and got into the global entry line instead of listening to the agent. I joined her and we got through in another 15 minutes. It was now after 6:30 pm and I had to get my checked bag and get to terminal 5.

By this time, our bags were no longer on the carousel but instead piled in between them. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Again, I lost Teresa and Shannon. Assuming they found their bags, I called Teresa to see where. She directed me and within 5 minutes, I found my bag went to the information desk and asked how I get to the air train to terminal 5. After a 15 minute, run/walk I jumped on the train and a few minutes later got off at the terminal. I descended the escalator and decided I was going to check both bags so I could make it easier to get through security since I didn’t have time to repack after my champagne purchase. I got to the bag check and was sweating profusely. I had been wearing my black NYC sweatshirt. I took it off to find I had black fuzz all over me…I’m sure I looked like I had the bubonic plague. I checked my bags and paid an additional $60 to check the 2nd bag and headed to security. Luckily, the line wasn’t as long as I was expecting. I got through and it was 7:15 pm. I walked up to the gate, just before they started boarding. I was excited to see that the arrival time listed was going to be earlier than originally scheduled. Yay! Something going my way on this return flight. I had already been up for 20 hours and I was ready to be home (funny the last trip I was up for over 36 hours but it was also filled with fun in NYC). As we were ready for take off, the captain came on over the speakers to say there was an issue with the air conditioner and maintenance had been called. Let’s just say we didn’t arrive earlier than expected. After, I got my bag and met Isaiah outside baggage claim to was after midnight. I had been up for 24 hours and was going to work the next day (dumb me scheduled an appointment for a new client…who ended up being a no show).

I’ve been asked over and over about my favorite parts or moments of this trip and it was so life enhancing, but here are a few of my favorite moments:

  1. walking in my mom steps 30 years ago to the day
  2. experiencing this trip with friends (thank you Shannon, Teresa, Josie, Jocelyn & Sofi)
  3. participating in Paris Fashion week (truly grateful for all who helped me achieve this)
  4. watching ManUtd in Old Trafford after riding in an English Cab and noshing on fish and chips
  5. walking in awe and reflection of the work and craftmanship of our ancestors
  6. sitting on the beach with my feet in the clear cool water watching my friend check off something from her bucket list
  7. twirling in a palace
  8. Paul’s pain du chocolate
  9. praying, reflecting and meditating in so many beautiful places
  10. moments when I knew my angels were with me (Bistro Jennifer, Giorgio of Beverly Hills in the airport)

I recently watched “Eat. Pray. Love.” for the billionth time. This time something new resonated with me, the line, “we must always be prepared for endless waves of transformation.” I have found this through my travels, the people I have met in these Ms. Adventures and loved ones who’ve taken this journey with me, and this all is possible because of Hopeless + Cause Atelier. Thank you Shannon, Josie, Sofi, Teresa and Jocelyn.

Next stop, Milan Fashion Week. Who’s in?

With light and love,
Dara Sophia Romero

PS here is the photos and video from the trip (there’s a LOT)

Dreams, Take 2 or Maybe 3 or 4

“I want more, impossible to ignore
Impossible to ignore
And they’ll come true”

Dreams, The Cranberries

I am currently sitting at a work table with my friends, Shannon and Teresa, in Nosiy-Le-Grand, France, a suburb of Paris. I am writing between episodes of Emily in Paris, while the other two are working. It is a dream come true to finally be here after setting my intentions over 4 years ago. It has been a little over a month from my hometown preview and now, Hopeless + Cause Atelier will be showing in Paris City Fashion Week in just two days. And I’m continually asked, “how I’m feeling about it?” I’ve got all the feelings: gratitude, excitement, a sense of incredibility that this is really happening, and deep felt gratitude. Then when I start REALLY thinking about it, I want to throw up. As I mentioned at the hometown show, “How does this happen to girl from New Mexico?” Easy. It takes a village.

On Friday, August 25th, the 8th birthday of Hopeless + Cause Atelier, I hosted a hometown preview for friends and family who came out in wonderful abundance to support my dream of showing in Paris during Fashion Week. I have loved seeing all the wonderful photos of everyone enjoying themselves at the show and of course, the beautiful videos and still shots they took of the models on the runway. If you’ve ever hosted an event, you will understand that putting on a fashion show is no easy undertaking…especially with champagne dreams on Papst Blue Ribbon budget, I was the promoter, web developer, accountant, cater, volunteer coordinator, set and seating designer, director and program master, cat wrangler, oh and fashion designer. I’m pretty good at organization because I’m kind of a control freak. However, the hardest part for me is that I have no control over ticket sales (especially, since I live in the land of manana) and it’s super stressful to guess on seating layout and food when people are texting you the morning of the show looking for seats (and when every single day throughout prior week, I post over and over and over that ticket sales are ending two days before the show 🤪🤣), but I digress. I went into this show with the assumption that the audience didn’t know about my little atelier and that I would take them through journey with me. I also wanted to take the opportunity to honor my grandmother and her impact on this passion project of mine. And because I try to weave community in everything I do, there were added moments. Before I talk about the twists and turns of the event, I’m going to take it back a few weeks.

The last time I wrote, my gram had just died. I went through all the emotions and then some. Her funeral service in Albuquerque was beautiful, filled with her family’s involvement, a slide show of wonderful photos, a moving eulogy, special music, a priest that knew her and a reception filled with stories, laughter and good food. I know she was watching from above with a smile on her face. But it wasn’t enough for me, I wanted it make sure everyone in the audience knew her and her impact on me and this atelier. I also knew she would want me to live my life to the fullest. And living your life to the fullest means bringing others along with you. The production company I am working with provides the models for the show. I had three models, who became dear friends, that were willing to travel to walk for me. After weeks of asking, bugging and pleading, I woke up one Saturday with an email from the organizer saying they could not only walk in my show, but he’d put their comp cards in the rotation for the possibility that they could walk for other designers. I remember feeling as happy if not happier that I could tell them that they were in. I think it impacted me so much was because I could help others live their dreams too.

Ticket sales were trickling in. Wonderful sponsors were supporting me (thank you Carla Aragon and Allen Lewis, Esther Otero-Martinez, and my wonderful anonymous sponsor and again to Tanya Robinson & Alpha Lit). During this time I celebrated a milestone birthday, traveled with friends to Nashville, Santa Fe and San Diego, and participated in my grandmother’s funeral mass. Again, I have not witnessed anything more beautiful. All these life events bleed into my ideation for the event. The overall theme of the event focused on dreams and the dream makers that made this a reality. The VIP seats’ swag included custom soaps, lavender sachets, candles, and face masks to help the attendees “curate their own dream”. I created the videos to tell the story of the last eight years (and beyond) because the dream of becoming a fashion designer began in high school. As friends and family members purchased their tickets, it made me happy to bring together an audience of such amazing people that I believe should know each other. My models were made up of different ages, ethnicities and sizes, just like the women I design for. I was so grateful that I could have two of my loves model for me for their first time: my niece, Athea, and Averie (that was a last minute add that made my heart happy). Some great photographers came through and my prayers for a beautiful voice to sing “Buenos Dias Paloma Blanca” were answered by Ane Romero.

As asked weeks before if I was ready, my customary response was, “I will be”. I know as a control freak I should have said “yes, I’ve been ready for months” but that’s where my creative side kicks my butt all over the place. I may have an entire collection ready but as I get closer I nix it and start all over again. But the night before, I had the collection set and program done, so at 2pm I was joined by Allison, Eilene, Natalie and Stephanie at the venue and started to set the scene for the show: putting together gift bags, prepping the clothing, placing tables and chairs to the seating chart. Alpha Lit and Blown Balloons showed up to start the decor. At 3pm, the models and beauty team started to arrive and got to work putting together the hair and make up based on the look book. I started outfitting the models for their three looks. About 5pm, my brother arrived to figure out the best way to utilize the A/V and my daughter arrived to set up her DJ booth (I told you it was a family affair–Isaiah and Brianna, were there in spirit as they were finally taking their honeymoon in Seattle). We started setting up the food and Leola was picking up last minute items. Guests started to arrive just before 6pm. I asked that guests arrive before 7:15pm to ensure that no one was arriving during the show. Mercury was in retrograde so of course there was technical and communication difficulties, but we just rolled with it (and I included the links for the videos if you want to see the story).

I designed the program to be in three parts. The first part, Story of My Life, showcased my beginnings in design, how I almost walked away and the inspiration and support of those around me to create and celebrate.

The second segment focused on my gram, Catalina Romero, her influence on my life and the atelier.

This segment started with video. Then, Ane took to the stage to sing. She was such a blessing to this event. I had put out a request for mariachi singers but the ones who responded were sadly a little too rich for my budget, when Sofi suggested her cousin, Ane. We connected immediately and there were so many coincidences from her last name, her family background and the fact that she had wanted to learn this song, so much so that it gave me happy chills (especially, when she arrived wearing a lilac dress–one of my gram’s favorite flowers). She was perfect. I just wish I could’ve been sitting in the audience with you for this.

The final segment, Dreams Take Two, took the audience on a journey with me when attended London Fashion Week and spent 10 hours in Paris. That was when I made the decision to try for Paris. This was 2019. I started the process working with another production company, when the pandemic hit…and then my cancer diagnosis…and then my broken (and surgically corrected) ankle…so when I received the invite and sought feedback about a show supporting the production costs was overwhelming supported. I knew this was the year (especially, since I had already planned to go to Paris). But I had no idea how wonderfully supported I’d be. My incredible friends and family outside of Albuquerque, friends of friends, friends who brought friends, and incredibly generous sponsors. I am tearing up just thinking how truly blessed I am–THANK YOU!!

As I spoke of my own journey, I asked Allison Hendricks-Smith the founder and ED of Pink Warrior House to share her own, and how the organization supports warriors on their own journey. Then the models took to the runway for the last time.

As they all headed out for what is know as the carousel walk, I joined them to a standing ovation. It was such an uplifting experience, with so many people I love in my presence. I hope everyone felt it to and enjoyed the evening.

Thank you to the models, beauty team, photographers, volunteers, sponsors and patrons for an evening that took my breath away. In TWO days, I will be living this dream. If you would like to come along, I am asking Shannon to live stream the show (6am Mountain time on Sunday, October 1, 2023).

I am so grateful for all of you! Merci beaucoup!!

With light and love,
Dara Sophia

Together Again

Everywhere I go, every smile I see
I know you are there smilin’ back at me
Dancin’ in moonlight, I know you are free
‘Cause I can see your star shinin’ down on me

Together Again, Janet Jackson

As I walked from the pool back to our hotel room, a butterfly fluttered up and around me as I reached the lobby doors. In that moment, I was taken back to Isaiah and Brianna’s wedding last year, when as we awaited the start of the ceremony a butterfly flew in and out of my view. Now like then, I knew it was my mom reminding me she was there.

Just a few minutes before, I received a text from my aunt Lisa informing me that they had started a regimine of morphine for my gram. This was Wednesday morning and I was in Phoenix, AZ for a quick escape for the Janet Jackson concert.

I gained another guardian angel on the morning of Saturday, June 10, 2023. Just two days before, I knew she wouldn’t make it through the weekend and I shared my gratitude, love and let her know it was okay to go. I asked my mom to guide and welcome her home. But still, when I received that text while I was volunteering at the Albuquerque Pride Parade my heart sank and I couldn’t help to think, “What the ACTUAL f*ck…WHY?!?” I left within minutes to say my last good-bye.

The Monday before, my aunt had arranged for the priest to offer her Last Rites. My kids, uncles, aunts, cousins and I were present for this Catholic sacrament. My grandma was propped up with pillows and blankets on the couch by this time she wanted to either hold the person’s hand next to her or curl up into their arms. It was a gift to hold her as she held me all the years before. I’ve thought about this intensely over the past week….we are born into this world and tightly held in the arms of a loved one. I was not there during her birth, but what a blessing that I could hold her tightly yet gently in her last days.

Sometimes hear you whisperin’, “No more pain”
No worries will you ever see now

Together Again, Janet Jackson

One of evenings before, I sat in front of her trying to paint her beautiful finger nails. She just wanted to hold my hand. After rubbing her hand with rose oil and humming to her I was able to paint them a lovely sheer pink. In the last few weeks, she didn’t speak much, but her last words to me will always stay with me. She said, “You look beautiful” and “You’re already leaving?”

The trip to Phoenix was planned the month before. I decided to drive because I wanted to stop at the Grand Canyon, since I hadn’t visited before, and because road trips always help me clear my mind while enjoying the beautiful countryside. My friend, Lalaine, took me up on the invitation and she was great company. However working in real estate and the start of the summer season, it almost didn’t work for her. I’m so glad it did! Janet was amazing. The Grand Canyon was breathtaking. And the company, was perfect. It was a quick trip but it gave me the space to think about all that I had going on. After the last blog, I immediately sold 8 tickets (thank you Emet, Amanda, and Laurie) and within days had another friend, Tanya, agree to sponsor. Once I sent out the social media post about Alpha-Lit Albuquerque/Santa Fe’s sponsorship, I had another three VIP tickets sold (thank you, Denise, Leola and Cathy) and had another friend offer her communications/marketing support (thank you, Nancy). It will definitely take a village to put on this show.

Once Upon a Dress, Hotel Andaluz, February 2017 – PC: Bobby Gutierrez

Last week, in a bit of haze, I put a pause on following up on sponsorships and pushing ticket sales, but then I remembered how supportive my gram was of this passion project. I loved seeing her front row at my shows. I appreciated her guidance as I took up the thread and needle again after almost 30 years since I first had her instruction.

When I feel that I don’t belong
Draw my strength from the words when you said
“Hey, it’s about you, baby”
Look deeper inside you, baby

Together Again, Janet Jackson

If you’ve been reading this blog throughout the years you know how much of an influence she has been on my life. I know she was 93 years old and lived a full life and I’m so glad I had her a part of mine for so long, but I’m still so heartbroken without her. I plan to honor her at my August 25, 2023 show because I know she will be looking down and smiling upon me . You might see the looks inspired by her life.

I’m still trying to figure things out while awaiting my gram’s funeral service informaiton. If you’d like to support Paris Ou Buste runway show on Friday, August 25th, there are a few ways to help: 1. buy your tickets sooner rather than later and/or connect me with potential sponsors (go to www.hopelesscauseatelier.com/events for event information); 2. volunteer (I need models–please keep in mind I really need sizes 0-4 and minimum 5’7″–hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and a team to help with set up through tear down (email me at designer@hopelesscauseatelier.com), and 3. share the posts to your network/tell your friends about the event.

Always been a true angel to me – now above
I can’t wait for you to wrap your wings around me

Together Again, Janet Jackson

Side note: I had used Together Again for the background of the trip photo montage then after I returned from work just days after my gram died, I was walking the floor before the store opened. The song played over the sound system, and for some reason I really listened to the words for the first time. I couldn’t help but cry; it is the happiest–sad song and speaks perfectly about my gram. We’ll be together again, my baby!

With light and love,
Dara Sophia

Heart Break and Manifestations

So close, no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters


I was mindlessly scrolling Facebook last week when I came across a photo posted of childhood friends. The caption simply said “Brothers Forever”. I didn’t think much of it just a little love from one friend to the other. Then later that evening, I saw another post, claiming that one of these friends had died, and while not outright saying it, a hint that the cause of death was related to a motorcycle accident (what is sadly ironic is that May is motorcycle awareness month).

I hadn’t seen him in years, if not decades, so I’m not quite sure why it impacted me so, but I felt unsettled. I had seen his younger brother and mom, when they came into Macy’s for a special occassion outfitting last summer. I asked how he was doing and I shared my memories of him and his sister, whom I was super close to growing up. We grew up together in Alameda, first meeting in kindergarten. He was athletic but not a major jock. He reminded me of 1980’s Matt Dillion in so many ways. Later, he was the definition of a bad boy always in a Metallic t-shirt strumming air drums on any device. Girls LOVED him and he loved them right back. I think he was every north valley girl’s crush. We were like cousins (not the kissing kind) and his older sister was one of my best friends. You may have heard this story before because it’s definitely impacted my life to this day…she committed suicide my freshman year; her passing and visit in my sleep the night she died. Tony and I became even closer in our shared grief, ditching school and becoming complete delinquents until I changed high schools. After that I didn’t see him much. Upon hearing this news, I was transported back decades to all our shenanigans and to be honest, I was shocked that this man, whom I witnessed so many times cheating death, when he was younger, would be gone at a young age. I thought he’d live forever with his sister as his guardian angel. I was still heavily living in disbelif because I hadn’t seen any news segments on his accident or an obitary. It wasn’t until this week when my friend said his body was released from the office of the medical investigator that I broke (just typing this breaks me). I have found some comfort that the and his sister are now reunited.

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words, I don’t just say
And nothing else matters


And maybe, it impacted me so because I was already in my head. This year I am reaching a milestone birthday. Don’t get it twisted, I am truly grateful to be on the path of celebrating another birthday, but SOOO much has happened in the last decade that this year, I am manifesting it to be filled with travel, self and professional growth, and deepening relationships. One of those manifestations is to travel abroad. I’ve been talking about Paris Fashion Week since 2019 after a 10 hour visit and showing in London Fashion Week. For the first time this year, it’s a real possibility.

I started by looking at flights to Paris. I found an incredible deal for the timeframe of late September to early October. Since, I’ve been saving my commissioned piece fees, I decided to book it (“if you build it they will come”). I sent a message to my friends whom have stated they wanted to travel with me. I’m not afraid to travel alone, but I must say it’s more fun with friends. I then started looking at production companies’ decks for fashion week. The one I think would be most beneficial for me hits just under $5,000. Five thousand dollars would be more than I was budgeting for the entire two weeks in France. I thought it was out of the question until an idea popped up.

I had an idea, but I knew I had to be succinct, but also gleam as much from a brief request. I built a four-question survey and sent out the link to a few friends, and although, it was anonymous, I wanted to get feedback from an audience that might not necessarily be “my people” (who would be supportive and excited for me) so I also posted it on social media. These were the questions:
1. I have the opportunity to show Hopeless + Cause Atelier in Paris, France. The production costs are just under $5,000. I can cover transportation and hotel, but the production is just out of my reach, so I thought I’d host a hometown (Albuquerque) preview to help raise funds for for that cost. Please answer the following questions, to help guide me. Would you buy a ticket for this event without there being a charity partner? Possible answers: Heck YES; No; Depends on the ticket price; Other
2. Just for fun, let’s say you responded with, “Heck Yes”. What would be a reasonable ticket price? Possible answers: $100; $75; $50; Other
3. If VIP Tickets were to be offered, check options you think would entice attendees. Possible answers: Front row seats; Complimentary glass of champagne; Swag; Acknowledgement in program; Exclusive pre- or after party
4. Please share any other ideas you think would be helpful.

I was surprised by the number of responses and SOOOO incredibly happy that no one selected “no” in the first question. I received wonderful feedback on ticket prices, and what would be the right “perks” for VIP. What I loved most is was not only the cheerleading section that told me “Go for it girl” and “Do it”, but even more so, the responses that stated they help (I really loved the ones who told me who they were). I was expecting maybe a dozen responses; I received 57.

So this is it…life is too short and opportunities like this don’t happen every day, I decided I would go for it with a hometown preview in order to fund the production costs for (say it with me) MOTHER F*CKING PARIS FASHION WEEK. And if you would like to travel with me, let me know…it definitely will be a crazy, fun Ms. Adventures.

Hopeless + Cause Atelier will be celebrating 8 years on August 25th. This year it falls on a Friday. I think that is the perfect day for a hometown preview and party. H+CA was born out of ruin and lifted up by an earth angel. In those 8 years, I have created for brides, mothers of the bride/groom, graduates, proms, and individuals that want to make an impact. It has been my muse as I’ve navigated divorce, cancer, accidents, death, and professional loss. It has taken me to the pages of Vogue, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, and locally in the Albuquerque Journal, and Albuquerque the Magazine and the runways in LA, Austin, NYC, San Francisco, and London, and I have been able to support over a dozen charitable causes. It makes my heart happy that so many want to help me live my dream. I also decided that money raised beyond the Paris Fashion Week production costs, will be donated to Pink Warrior House, an organization that has been a partner in my journey over the past two years. So here we go…

Please mark your calendars for:
Friday, August 25, 2023
Location: TBD
Sponsorship/ticket details: Events (hopelesscauseatelier.com)

If you’d like to help (I’d REALLY REALLY appreciate it), please let me know (you can comment below, send an email to designer@hopelesscauseatelier.com, or shoot me a text). Ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities are ready (just click on the link above. Just make sure you are subscribing to this blog for more information in the coming months (sign up at the top of this blog). If you are truly interested in helping this girl make it to Paris ou Buste, please buy your ticket early and invite friends. The event is just under three months away.

I never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words, I don’t just say
And nothing else matters


Life can be bittersweet, I choose to live in the sweetness. I’m heartbroken that I lost a friend at such a young age and sadly, that I hadn’t seen him in years. If I’ve gained anything from Tony’s death, I think it’s to live life on your own terms because you don’t know when you’ll be called home.

With light and love (I will miss you, Tony, and please give Cindy a HUGE hug!!)
Dara Sophia

Closer To Fine

I’m trying to tell you something ’bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeah

Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls

If you know me you know I’m like the Energizer Bunny, always going. In my professional life, I am a self-identified high functioning Expressive (according to the Merrill-Wilson Personality Type) and underlying Driver. Expressives are outgoing, multitaskers, storytellers–turning disasters into humor, and while others may see them as disorganized they know exactly where everything goes. At work and through the Atelier, I keep myself involved in multiple projects, with a series of goals to achieve. While most people’s idea of a vacation is going to a mountain retreat or a beach getaway…I am drawn to places like NYC where the energy frequency is sooo high; it’s soothing to me. When I’m stressed, I retreat and and my interactions become short if not non-existent.

It’s been a month and a half since my surgery, and oh boy, the first couple of weeks I was figuring out how to walk, sleep, and not sneeze, laugh, or cough, so I wouldn’t pop stitches. I was unable to drive for myself until I got my doctor’s okay around the third week and still can’t lift more than 10 lbs, do repetitive motion, nor exercise beyond walking and stationery cycling. In the mornings, I almost feel human, but by the end of the day I feel like Violet Beauregarde, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, ballooned and ready to pop.

Because of lingering winter weather, my only out of the house activities were being chauffeured to doctor appointments, short grocery shopping trips, and afternoon walks with Isaiah and Coco…I tease him when I ask if he’s coming over, saying, “are you walking Coco and me today?”

Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores

Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls

I have continued a small routine which includes morning mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral via YouTube, practicing French on Duolingo, reading The Gift of Influence, by Tommy Spaulding, working on Fashion Design Management coursework. On days that Isaiah came over, it pushed me to make sure I showered, dishes were washed, and I had meals ready to prepare. His visits have given me purpose more than getting sucked into binge tv. Although, I have him hooked on Ted Lasso.

“Because when you find beauty you find inspiration” -Ted Lasso, Season 3, Episode 6 – Sunflowers

Around week four, I struggled. I opted to not participate in the fashion show for Locker #505. I came to the realization that I wouldn’t be able to schlep the garments to the event and back home. I wouldn’t be able to do the the steaming (up and down repetitive motion) and help the models with the outfits. Plus during that time in my recovery, standing for more than a half hour meant major adominal pressure and swelling. So a week and half before the show, I reached out to the producer, explained my situation and gave my regrets. I was bummed because I love this organization and have enjoyed participating in the past. My struggles weren’t only physical but also mental because creating and showcasing my art raises my endorphins.

On top of that I was dealing with my denied FMLA/LOA and trying to get the corrected dates from my surgeon and was hitting automated systems and lack of urgency from both sides (finally, at week six I was able to get it approved). I received my medical statement of benefits and was stopped in my tracks, when I read the claim for two of the days I stayed at Lovelace ICU wasn’t medically necessary and was denied. This mean’t I would be responsible for the $25,000 bill. No joking here. I called my insurance to see what I needed to do to get it paid. The insurance representative stated the denied claim was sent back to the hospital to resubmit. However as back up, I have it on my list of questions for my surgeon at my next appointment. And the cherry on top, was stress related to me not being at work and a sense of FOMO…not so much a fear of missing out on fun but instead of opportunities for sales. It’s a reality check when you are at home seeing the world move on without your presence. Depression is no joke and isolation feeds it…“darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear”

Brave Enough, Cheryl Strayed

Before having surgery, I joined a Facebook group, Tummy Tuck & Cosmetic Surgery Support Group and it was great in helping me prepare for surgery and in some ways in what to expect after. However, after surgery I found what I needed was different. The women in this group were electing to have their tummy tucks, boob and butt lifts, liposuction and muscle repair. It made me think back when I had decided that I was going to use my own belly fat for breast reconstruction rather than implants. I had several friends joke, offering their own tissue if I needed it, or commenting how I’d have a flat stomach and new boobs on the flip side. I know it wasn’t mean-spirited, but those coments have impacted me. I did not choose cancer. I have been cut up and stiched back together. While this type of reconstructive surgery was my choice, I wouldn’t have chosen it if this wasn’t my journey, So, I slid down the slippery slope of body dysmorphia, not feeling flat on the otherside, instead looking like Sally from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Sponge Bob or a balloon about to pop–just feeling so swollen, boxy, and unappealing, I became more reclusive, opting to say, “no” to visits or going out to see people, because I didn’t feel comfortable in anything other than my yoga pants and sweats, I couldn’t make a meal for visitors, or even clean my house beyond hitting DJ Roomba to quickly sweep the floors. I questioned what was going on and didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone in my immediate circle in detail because I knew they wouldn’t understand. How could they?!? Luckily, I found another Facebook Group specifically for women in their DEIP Flap journey. Things I was feeling and thinking were commonplace here.

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah

Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls

Being reflective and trying to understand why I was in this place, I started digging deeper and found that depression can be a side affect of surgery, so I started acknowledging my feelings. I remembered something a friend told me. Maria texted to check on me and stated, that I should accept the offered help of everyone around me because it is their way of showing love and is just as meaningful for them. So I started saying, “yes” when friends asked me to go out. A change of scenery and some vitamin D really does a body good.


Thanks Kristen for including me in this Saturday get-away to Santa Fe and Altar Spirits. 💜 Check it the ecelctic space space and the fabulous crafted cocktails. #altarspirits #santafe #mixology #msadventures @kristen.olguin

♬ Summer – Instrumental – Devinney

Eventhough I easily tire, walks with Isaiah have helped tremendously. I’ve had a weekly standing dinner date with Cathy to watch the new episodes of Ted Lasso. I needed to do something creative, so when More Than Turquoise blogger and friend, Jamie, asked to video segments for her new ambassador campaign, I jumped at it. Anyone who has been a loyal reader, or just knows me, knows how important travel is for me. You have no idea how much a recent train ride and the day in Santa Fe planned by Kristen was good for my adventurous soul and when we missed our original train back, well it just added my Ms. Adventures. Getting out for lunch or happy hour and saying, “yes” to my gracious friends and family who wanted to bring over a meal and have a conversation, has helped to provide some excitement to fill those monotonous days. I appreciated, the “hope you are well” or “hope you are healing” but especially when I was asked how I was doing text messages. However they hit differently. The former are closed ended texts, while the later message prompted a conversation.

Not having dozens of things going at once was hard for me. I pulled out my calendar and set deadlines. I had been comissioned to create A’s prom dress with a deadline the week of April 22nd. My mom’s annual memorial scholarship awardees were due before April 13th and the last of Fashion Design Coursework was due by April 18th. I needed some purpose and some patience with myself. Plus looking at the calendar helped me realize what day it was…I know sad. I looked at my first week back at work and how I could drive some immediate support while ensuring that I made work-life balance a priority (I know my body will remind me). I booked a couple of group shopping events. I receached out to the producer at KRQE and pitched a few ideas. She loved theam and I have segments booked for the next three months. I’ve got another commissioned dress to work on and I’m studying to take an insurance licensing exam. I co-lead Macy’s Coronado’s Colleague Resource Group. Reading, The Gift of Influence, has given me so many ideas for programing when I return because influence is not how you get someone to buy or go somewhere you promote, but instead how you positively impact everyone you meet.

My friend, Leola, had hosted a pre-op gathering for a few friends and it really helped get me in the right mindset before surgery. She offered to host another one before I returned to work and a few weeks ago, another friend, who works for Heading Home asked if I could host a drive for new/gently used handbags filled with goodies like toiletries, beauty products, candies, candles and/or jewelry to be gifted on Mother’s Day to mother’s experiencing homelessness. I asked Leola if we could incorporate it into the evening and she was as excited by it as I was. Because I know my clients have bags in excellent condition that they no longer use, I decided to continue the collection drive into the first few days that I’m back at work.

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine

Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls

I return to work in two weeks. I’m not feeling myself physically but closer to fine mentally. I know I still have 6 to 12 months of physical healing, and I’m hoping the return to work will help me socially and mentally, but I am truly grateful for all the love and support during this time. And, if you are looking for binge worthy tv programs, I have become the expert. Here are my choices: Ted Lasso (you can join Cathy and me for our weekly dinner and an episode meetup), Shrinking (I may or may not have used the 15 minutes method), The Chosen (great balance for the trash tv I watch), Vanderpump Rules (said trash tv), Jack Ryan, Marvel movies and Tiny Beautiful Things. TBT included a version of Closer to Fine by Ingrid Michaelson, that inspired this blog. I won’t lie. You will cry, but it may be cathartic, as it was for me. It is loosely based on Cheryl Strayed’s, book with the same title (and one of my favorites, it was SO good).

With light and love,
Dara Sophia

Always Open

If you’ve followed my Ms. Adventures from the beginning, then you know the influence my material grandmother (lovingly aka known as my “gram”) has not only had on my passion project, Hopeless + Cause Atelier, but most importantly on my life. Growing up, I couldn’t imagine a time I wasn’t with her or she was in my corner when I was bumping heads with my mom. She taught me how to sew out of necessity when I was young and when I returned to the craft decades later, she pulled out her sewing machine and once again gave me guidance as I started to design and create.

She recently turned 93 and she lives at home with my aunt. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren take turns staying with her and provide care during the day while my aunt works. I’ve talked about my time with her in past posts but a couple months ago, I had an epiphany of sorts. Tuesday afternoon we were at the kitchen counter–she, with her cookies and coffee and I across from her chatting, when I realized that her hair was standing up in the back from her most recent nap. I went into her bathroom and grabbed her brush. I went back to the counter and started combing her hair. Her coos of excitement from this simple gesture threw me over with emotion. We went on that afternoon talking about family members. She told me how beautiful my dress was and she had a mixture of frustration and sadness when she couldn’t remember things. The next Tuesday, when she was enjoying her afternoon snack at the breakfast bar. I decided to pull out a deck of cards and start playing “Solitaire”. This is a game she would always play when we were at the ranch or she was in the kitchen waiting for the timer to go off on a meal she was cooking in the oven. I thought this simple act would jog her memory from the past as she watched intently as I played and showed her excitement when I made the cards work for me. Another Tuesday, she was sitting up in her bed rubbing on her finger nails trying to clean off the chipped nail polish. I grabbed my aunts tools, remover and polish and sat in front of her to give them a fresh look. Her happiness fed into mine. She has had her good days: remembering me, where she is and what she’s doing, eating, getting up to walk and holding a conversation, and she has had her not so good days: chanting prayers when she’s in pain, disoriented and upset when she can’t remember, and not really eating.

Either way, I am really grateful for this time and while it’s hard to see this fiercely independant and strong motherly figure so fragile, I am blessed that I am able to be there for her in this way. I also realized it was an epiphany on two fronts. The first was the realization was that as much as we think we are indedpendant and can do it all on our own, at sometime in our life we NEED others. The second was the hardiness and the value of time or making the time.

I set goals every year. I have learned in order to be successful I need to be realistic and specific in creating them. I also lean on a word to help guide me on my path. I opened with “opportunity” because I knew this was the year that I could take advantage with my health in check and the world opening up….but then it hit me. Opportunity is ALWAYS around you just have to be open to it. So “open” became my guiding word.

I finally set a date for breast reconstruction and it excited me that I would finally be able to shelve this chapter (plus have a new bangin’ bod). I took advantage of my company’s free educational benefits. I applied and was accepted into “Fashion Design Management” certificate program. I understand the creative side but wanted to learn more about the business side. I reached out to friends I hadn’t seen for years because of the pandemic and set dates to visit with them. I decided visiting NYC only once in 2022 was not good enough and this was the first REAL Autumn/Winter fashion season since 2020. I had points so I booked my flight.

When I opened up to the universe, I found abundance, even when obsticles blocked the way. I almost canceled my NYC trip. I really wanted to go but I started thinking about my next medical proceedure, corresponding leave of absence and short term disability pay (60% vs.100%) and I felt a little uneasy about spending the extra money. I decided to be open and just like that, I received a text from my friend, Evelyn, asking when my next trip was. I filled her in on the dates and she asked if I’d like company. So we made a plan and February 9th couldn’t get here quick enough. There were 6 things I had to do and the rest of the time was free for what ever. Those things were: 1) check out a NYFW production that also produces in Paris, 2&3) schedule time with Amanda (whom I hadn’t seen since 2020) and Sal (whom I hadn’t seen since 2018), 4) go to mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5) get some work done at at Louis Vuiton and Gucci and 6) visit the Museum at the FIT .

We arrived after a full day of travel and checked into the hotel, freshened up and headed down to the hotel bar for happy hour. We had reservations for a speakeasy in the East Village. I knew I’d be recovering from surgery for her March milestone birthday so I wanted to take her to someplace fabulous to celebrate. And it was! The front was a pawn shop that opened to a sweeping staircase with beautiful chandler that welcomed you to the hostess station and bar. We celebrated our arrival with a cocktail before we were escorted to our table.

The next day I had nothing scheduled and the only thing Evelyn wanted to do was to visit the Guggenheim. The weather was unseasonably mild and beautiful for February so we decided to walk from our midtown hotel, along 5th avenue and then through Central Park to the museum. It was my first visit to this museum it was a lovely afternoon for art. We walked about half way back until Evelyn asked if we could jump on the subway. We had walked 8 miles so I gave in and if you know me, you know riding the subway is a big compromise for me (HUGE). We opted to stay in that evening grabbing pizza and a bottle of wine from neighborhood establishments (I did have to send Isaiah a photo with the caption $2 pizza).

The next morning, I had an appointment with the Louis Vuitton team to try make some sales while I was in town and then my plan was to stop by Gucci to pick of a repair order. Evelyn would meet me after the store opened. We had little bit of time to look through the latest at Herald Square before meeting Amanda for brunch. I hoped we’d hit the Museum at FIT for “Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style” before returning to the hotel for a little R-N-R. I got to work–I just love entering from Macy’s Herald Square employee entrace–and chatted with the team before I started taking photos of the latest bags and accessories. I got to work and made a few purchases on behalf of my clients. We strolled through the contemporary lines but realized we had about a 20 minute walk through Chelsea, so we decided if we had time after, we’d come back. We arrived in sync with Amanda. I gave her a big hug and made introductions. We were escorted to our chalet, or quaintly decorated outdoor eating space, that was probably built in 2020. We had a lively convesation about our lives from the past three years. After brunch, we walked over to FIT and caught the exhibits, continued on to Macy’s to do a little shopping and then returned to the room to freshen up before heading to the shows. The first one was near the Flat Iron Building and was produced by Small Business Fashion Week. They produce throughout the USA and in Paris so I really wanted to see their show and attendees. We arrived right at 6pm and almost didn’t make it in, but I’ve learned to be a pushy New Yorker and was able to get us. The show was smaller than what I am used to, but it was fun to see the varying type of designers from swim to street. The next show was in the East Village and one I’ve attended over the years. It’s a bigger production company, Art Hearts Fashion. We jumped in an Uber and headed south. As we arrived, I noticed a line wrapping around the building which I had never seen at that venue before. As we got in line, we started talking to attendees when one mentioned the type of ticket I had meant go to front of the line. We walked to the interest and I checked in with the press table. I had sent in requests for me and Evelyn. However, there was a screening process and Evelyn wasn’t on the list. Unfortunately, I couldn’t talk my way through this one so we opted to just head back to the hotel. We finished the evening watching movies and munching on Cava (one of my go-to’s in NYC).

Sunday, I got ready and headed out early to Mass. It’s so peaceful walking 5th Avenue on Sunday morning. I know it’s unbelieveable to discribe the City as peaceful but it really is before 10am on Sundays. I got my fill of St. Patrick’s and because brunch with Sal was at Pier 17, I had to take the subway (yes, it may start snowing as you read this). I arrived to the Brooklyn Bridge. Since Evelyn, didn’t go to mass, we were going to meet their and walk over to the restaurant together. We were all running late, so I informed the party to check in as they arrived. Evelyn could not find me so we headed over separately. Sunday was the coldest of the days with the weather dreary but at least it wasn’t raining. However being so close to the water made for some bone chilling cold. Brunch was wonderful. I hadn’t seen Sal since she stayed with me in 2018 for our friend, Jennifer’s celebration of life. We met when she was a reporter with Albuquerque Business First and developed an incredible friendship over the years. She left Albuquerque and returned to her home town, Denver, before landing a job in D.C. and in the past year was scooped up by the Associated Press in NYC. We wrapped up brunch and headed back to Macy’s to work on another purchase from Louis Vuitton. Then plan was to find a pub to watch the superbowl but after the chilly afternoon we decided to have a superbowl room party. Evelyn was craving Canolis so we hit the neighborhood, picked up dinner, wine and sweets and turned on the game. I think everyone should experience a superbowl room party.

Our flights on moday were early afternoon, and I had another order for Gucci. I had also received a request to create a prom dress for someone i love dearly, so I wanted to hit Mood for fabric ideas. I tooks swatches and photos with the Gucci bag in tow. We got back in time to check our bags and hit a pub across the street for lunch before heading to the airport. We got on our planes and made the treck back. On my flight, I had the option to watch movies when I came accross a new release that, after the recommendation from aunt, has become my favorite, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”. It is a sweet movie about an everyday woman who has profound impact on those around her. It’s about loss and enjoying life to the fullest. It was totally relateable to me.

“We need more dreams now more than ever.”

-Ada Harris

I returned to Albuquerque inspired. I’m always inspired by NYC but this is a milestone year for me and I was so grateful I took this trip. I had a little less than a month before my surgery and I wanted to get so much in before. I got back to work on outfitting the local The Go Red for Women Fashion Show for the American Heart Association. This is a such a full circle event for me. In 2014 and 2015, I actually attended the Macy’s NYFW version with celebrities models like Zendaya, Thalia Sodi, and Giada De Laurentiis. So when was hired at Macy’s, I was excited to outfit the real superheroes in our community. I also planned to host a Galentine’s soiree to thank all those that have supported me in my business throughout the years. I continued my Tuesdays with gram. Made time with my minis, my friends and to volunteer. I celebrated several friends incredible accomplishments and just enjoyed life at community events. I started my course work. I opted for a Dry Lent and found that it hasn’t been difficult to follow even when going out with friends.

I had my pre-op appointment scheduled for March 1st. I woke that morning after feeling so many different emotions over the past couple of weeks. I knew the intensity with a hospital stay involved and assumed a 6-week leave of absence. My plastic surgeon had moved from her private practice to UNM Cancer Center, so when I had planned to have reconstructive surgery last year, I’d have to wait until late summer but because of my time away from work for my ankle surgery, I knew I couldn’t take another 6-weeks off, so late last year, we planned it for March 10th. I arrived at my appointment on time and after going through the maze of the cancer center I was taken to an exam room. I had a busy day but I had planned the appointment early enough that I wouldn’t be too stressed about spending the time for the appointment. However when my doctor arrived 45 minutes late, I lost it. The emotions bubbled up and I explained how it is not professional or courteous to make someone wait that long. She apologized profusely and we got to work talking about my care pre-op, the surgery and the recovery. It was overwhelming and I wish I had an extra pair of ears but I tried to take copious notes. I was to give up caffiene immediately (which resulted in several days of fun headaches). My surgery call time was 6am and the surgery would be anywhere from 6-9 hours long. I would be admitted into an ICU room and would be released 5 days later. The room would set at balmy 75 degrees so the newly constructed veins and arteries would be expanded enough to feed the new tissue enough blood to sustain life. The final big change to what I was expecting was the fact that I would be out for 8 weeks. Eight weeks of minimal movement and 8 weeks of reduced pay. But at the end of the day, I knew that on the flip side I would be able to shelve this chapter of my life and have a banging bod (If you’re reading this, I hope you’re laughing along with me).

“When she woke the next morning she felt no longer sad but only eager and excited as one who is about to embark upon a great and unknown adventure.”

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

I got back to work. Set up our store’s Bag Hunger Activies, saw as many clients as I could. Cleaned my casita since I’d have my minis staying with me and got as far as I could in my class assignments. I planned a team volunteer project the day before my surgery because I knew I’d be out of commission for the rest of the projects that month. A group of 12 from Macy’s Coronado headed to St. Felix Pantry on Thursday March 8. I think what made this even more special is that one of my coworkers mentioned that he had utilized the food pantry’s services years ago so he was compelled to go and help others now that he was at a place where he could. That made me smile. We packaged fresh veggies and sorted non-perishable foods for two hours.

As I was leaving, my phone rang. I answered knowing the number was coming from Lovelace, the hospital where my surgery was taking place. The woman on the other end introduced herself as the financial consultant and asked to speak to me. I responded and she continued to discuss the financial costs of the surgery and my responsibility. I think I was in shock because it all became jumbled besides the following: Lovelace was no longer contracted with my insurance carrier. The surgery would cost $330,000 and my patient responsibility would be $150,000. While I was hoping the surgery was in-network because it would be free because I had already met this year’s $3,900 in network out of pocket maximum, I knew there might be a possibility that it could be out of network and my out of pocket maximum would be $11,000. So when I explained that to this woman, she responded saying since Lovelace wasn’t contracted they could charge whatever they wanted. I then proceeded to ask why they waited until the day before to inform me of this. My heart sank thinking how much longer I’d have to wait. She said she’d reach out to the CFO to see if there is anything they could do, but it might require me bringing a few thousand dollars with me…again, I thought you request this a day before my surgery?!? I asked whom the CFO she was referring to, so when she responded with the name of one of my clients, I said, “tell her it’s for Dara, her Macy’s Personal Stylist”.

I hung up the phone and tears streamed down my face and I’m sure my blood pressure was through the roof. I took a deep breath and reached out to my friend, Serena, whom is an executive at Lovelace. I explained what happened. She was astonished to hear what I told and said she’d get on the phone with the CFO. With in minutes I was given the number for the head of admissions with a time to call her. I promptly did so and talked through the financial responsibility and she agreed that the max out of pocket I’d experience would be the $11,000. As a friend told me, it’s like I received a $139,000 gift. I was lucky because I have friends in high places, but I couldn’t help but think what if I didn’t?

The next morning, Isaiah drove me to the hospital. We checked in at 6:00am and after going through the admission process we were taken to the surgery area. The nurse came to get me within minutes and after taking all the preliminary vitals, got me prepped for surgery. My surgeons came in and marked my breast and abdomen surgery site. The anesthesiologist came in started the process as they rolled me into the operating room. About 8 hours later, I woke up in my ICU room connected to oxygen, IVs, drains, a pain ball, blood pressure cuff, catheter, oxygen sensor and dopler wiring to read the blood flow. Later, Cati admitted to me that she was scared after seeing all the machine connections. Initially, I had two nurses attending to me. They stayed with me in the room checking vitals every 15 minutes until the shift change at 7pm. That first day I could only have ice chips (it was ok–Friday’s during lent are for fasting–okay, I know bad joke). The room was so hot that I asked for ice packs behind my neck and under my feet. I found out that my lungs had partially collapsed from the time spent in the operating room, so they gave me a spirometer to exercise my lung. It was difficult to initially get to the level I was challenged to, but the bigger problem happened after the first day of using it and the coughing that ensued. I prayed that I didn’t cough, laugh or sneeze and of course all these actions occured. I’ve never held my stomach tighter.

I’m not going lie; the first 48 hours were probably the hardest I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. I straddled the line of modesty and vanity with my own vanity pushing me through. My faith, my family and friends who checked in and said prayers on my behalf, the incredible nursing team from the ICU unit and little things like watching Friends on Nick at Nite, Harry Potter Marathons and trash tv from Bravo were my saviors. The ICU nurses went above and beyond in my care. I had one nurse, Michelle, who was so concerned when my temperature spiked to 101.8 degrees that she called the doctor for advice and did everything to keep me comfortable. I knew it was because I was living in an oven, but soldiered on following instructions to make sure that the tissue had a healthy start. I also kept my sense of humor, welcoming my visitors to my tropical paradise.

Tuesday morning I was doing well enough to be released home. Brianna took off of work and picked me up. Isaiah met us at my casita and stayed with me until Cati got off from work. Isaiah is working remotely for the next month so he’s been with me during the day all week and Cati has been staying overnight with me. I am truly blessed by my three kiddos. Family and friends have checked in to see what I need and how I’m doing. I am incredibly grateful. I know this was the path I chose for reconstruction and I am so thankful that it is going well but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intense. And it brought me back to my epiphany from my grams. I’m a tough, independent woman, who’d rather focus on others than ask for help.Yet again life reminded me that we all need help sometimes. Right now, it’s hard for me to welcome visitors because I’m carrying my painball and two drains. I walk hunched over with the aid of a walker and I’m living my best life in pj’s. I’ve always been teased because I have monkey toes, but my prensile feet have aided me as I can’t bend down. And to not welcome someone into my home when I can’t make them a meal or even clean my house, is trying. It’s not that I don’t want to see loved ones but instead because I don’t want them to see me in this manner. I’m at the start of road to recovery and I can’t wait to write about what’s happening next…and down the road.

I know 2023 is going to be a big year with milestone celebrations, travel and quality time with loved ones. My first couple of projects are to complete the Fashion Design Management Certificate Program, loan looks for the Locker #505 Fashion Show in April and get back to work reviewing Paris Fashion Week production companies. My journeys are never straight lines, but it’s in those difficult paths and off road adventures that I learn so much about myself and the world around me. This journey continues to reveal to be open and to take advantage of every opportunity that is set forth.

“Life is not all moonlight and movies.” – Andre Fauvel “Why can’t it be? I’ve spent too long on my own, wishing my life away.” – Ada Harris

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

With light and love,
Dara Sophia

P.S. I can have coffee again after March 25th and a glass of wine after April 9th.

It REALLY Is A Wonderful Life

It’s December 26, 2023 and I hope you are taking some time to breathe and just be. It has been incredibly busy in my world and even with the bah humbugs I have to reflect on how wonderful life has been in the past month.

It was kind of a blur since I returned from Austin Fashion Week. However I intended to continue my tradition of a 36 hour trip to NYC for a holiday recharge. It had been a year since I was last there and I wasn’t going to let 2022 go by without visiting my soul place, but there was so much to do before I could escape (and because I’m unable to take PTO in December, it really is 36 hours).

If you’ve ever worked retail during the holidays, you’ll completely understand the craziness of goals and shopping trends but going into this season I had myself organized to meet them to the best of my ability while making sure I had built in self-care and enjoying the season too.

My role at Macy’s is a Personal Stylist (aka personal shopper). It is a specialized selling position (and I loathe the sales component but it’s the necessary evil that I achieve to get to do the things that I love). Every year I sign a contact. I have two goals: meet a minimum sales goal and have a percentage of that in return sales (FY22: $500K and 15% return client sales). It is not taken into consideration if you are out on medical leave, as I was for 6 weeks when I broke my ankle. Going into the Black Friday sales event I was $150K off my annual goal, however I had over 50% of sales coming from return clients. I didn’t focus on it knowing it would be what it would be and focused instead on the customers in front of me, marketing and planning internal and external community events, which are the best parts of my job!

It was our last year partnership with Make-A-Wish letter writing campaign with Santa so I wanted to make sure it was truly successful. I organized for our customers to donate to Toys for Tots. I asked for another grant for Locker #505’s shopping event that was met with a match from the local ice hockey team, the Ice Wolves, Western Skies Community Health and the extremely generous owner operators, Steve and Patricia Aragon. We almost doubled the number of kids outfitted from last year and I am so fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends (about two dozen showed up to be personal shoppers for an early Sunday morning shopping event). Macy’s has a new partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, so I asked for a grant to support their Holidazzle party. The funds provided covered the gingerbread houses (activity for the Bigs and Littles to do together), decor, prizes and other needs. My friends Carla and Allen sponsored outfits again for the kids at the Ranches and I got to personally style many of them. Our last project was to internally sponsor preschool kids from a Youth Development Inc headstart project. The community relations component isn’t officially part of my job, but something I intentionally seek out. Our store doesn’t have a large budget so most of the projects we support are based on sweat equity. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in a role that I’ve had a large marketing or philanthropic budget, but instead learned ways to make impact from whatever I’ve been dealt…I always think of Mark 12:41 when I think of my approach to community giving and engagement. I always ask, knowing the answer will possibly be, “no”, but incredibly grateful for the “yesses” and giving all I’ve got.

I kicked off the season with my annual Swanky Sweater Soiree. I focused on an Italian holiday with entertaining, fashion and gift ideas. I was fortunate to pitch segment ideas to the KRQE team and was on twice a month in November and December talking about everything from fashion trends to last minute gift ideas and a client and friend invited me to her radio program to talk about holiday trends. Since the week before Thanksgiving through Christmas week, I was working an average of 50 hours. I was feeling it–from my “new” ankle to my muscles to my mindset, but I made the conscious decision to schedule time and make memories with friends and family and I was going to enjoy NYC to the fullest and get recharged (and really test my ankle with all the walking).

Unfortunately, Jet Blue suspended their non-stop redeye flight from late October through mid-March so there was not quick flight, so I’d be flying out early Sunday morning, meeting my friend, Leola, once again for our quick holiday adventure. We’d have Sunday night, all day Monday and Monday night and fly back early Tuesday so I could make it to work Tuesday afternoon.

The plan (and prayer there were no delays) was to make it to mass at 5:30pm (my flight was scheduled to arrive at 4:05pm, then head over to the Louis Vuitton trunk show that I had got us tickets to a month prior then head over to Serendipty for dinner that evening.

The next day I would go in to see the Louis Vuitton team (hopefully drum up some orders), do some shopping at Macy’s, head over to Bryant Park and take a photo of the tree and find The Truffleist (for my Christmas meal ingredients), go to Rockefeller Center to see that other tree and shop the Nintendo store (because that is a request of my son everytime I go-lol!). We had reservations for another one of my favorite restaurants, Dante. And then we’d stroll around to see all the fabulous holiday windows.

Windows from Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales

What I really loved is that I had “thread” on my mind and the universe conspired to show me the beauty of that word. I really wanted to make it to Dyker Heights, but that will have to be another trip where I can enjoy the city for more than a day and a half. I’m really like Ralphie at the Higby’s window in “A Christmas Story” when it comes to the holiday windows at Macy’s, Saks, Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman.

We did all that I wanted to accomplish and more and I made it to work by 12:30pm that Tuesday. I know it sounds exhausting, but I really do get recharged. People ask me about my crazy trips all the time, and how going to NYC during the busiest time of the year recharges me when I work retail, but I try to explain that it’s a different type of crowds and energy…it’s just vibing in all the right ways. But I also try to have that vibe back here at home.

I attended Nob Hill Shop and Stroll with Ang and Lee (it was good to see the crowds out again).

I went to the movies to see holiday classics, “Elf” and “Love Actually” with my minis and watched other new releases, “The Chosen” and “Ticket to Paradise” with Cathy and Ang, respectively. I focused on an Advent meditation to start my days through the Hallow App (check it out, it’s pretty awesome) and did lots of yoga to aid in my physical state of mind.

I invited my brother, his family and my kids to join me for a train ride to Santa Fe for dinner at Tomasitas for what would have been my mom’s 70th birthday. I invited friends for a couple of occasions for dinner, conversation and laughter. I planned Christmas Eve dinner this year inviting Ang and her husband to join us (making it a new tradition) with all my mini’s favorites, challenged my niece with our holiday joy shenanigans photo and spent time enjoying some family at my grams on Christmas night.

I am off today (well except to go in to do the final counts to raise money for Make-A-Wish) and just reliving the season’s memories as I write this blog and watch Christmas movies. That I hope I have explained why you received a 2-for-1 blog this month. Well because of all the flurry and because I didn’t get the photos from Austin Fashion Week until the begining of December. I share these Ms. Adventures, not to brag, and maybe you’re thinking I document and post too much, but I love sharing moments and experiences with those I love. I know this time of year isn’t always jolly and good for everyone. AND, I know I can be annoyingly optimistic. It’s not because I haven’t had hardships or been handed adversity, but instead because I choose to look for the good in everything I experience. Years from now I can reflect that It’s REALLY A Wonderful Life. I hope can find a nugget of truth in that. I also hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and enjoying it to the fullest whether near or far.

With light and love and a wonderful New Year,


Traveling with me is not glamorous. I’m usually traveling on a tight budget and staying near the venue. Usually the day before, I’m holed up in the hotel room sewing and there might be fitting appointments with the models. And sometimes, there are midnight runs to a 24-hour Wal-mart in the next state for a sewing machine needle. There’s always some hiccup because to be honest I live the life of Ms. Adventures. But there’s always a story and and when someone goes with me, I am incredibly grateful for the company and help.

This time was no different and I was happy Ang offered to join me to Austin Fashion Week. I was excited to return to this event. I specifically returned to Austin because after my first show with the team, back in May 2017, I found that the production company Fashion by Events was so incredibly organized, communicated well and the event went off flawlessly.

Two weeks before my showing date (Sunday, November 13th) I received the model comp cards. I was to create 7 designs for the show. If you’ve been reading along, I had chosen my color palette, Harvest–oat, olive, blueberry, raspberry and pumpkin. My design aethestic is edgy-demure. It’s everyday wear with an unexpected twist. This collection was no different. It was a matter of finalizing designs based on the models.

My day job was hopping! I was invited to lead a few conversations on event execution and holiday gift ideas. I was planning several give back events and trying to see as many clients as possible, so my sewing time was over the evening hours and on days off. And as I’ve said before, I suffer from creative blocks…meaning, I can’t create properly unless I’m in the right mind set which sadly, sometimes it’s just days, and in extreme cases, hours before a show. Things were coming along though. As the co-chair of employee resource group, I lead the team on an activity about “bringing your amazing self to work”. One of the questions was, to describe yourself in one word. I have been often told that I am a connector of sorts. As I prepared for this activity, I gave that descriptor some thought, but found that I strive not to be just a connector, and not that there is anything wrong with that. Bringing people together is a wonderful trait, but I truly attempt something more. And it brought me back to the creative process of fashion. I described myself as, “thread”. The thread creates a bond and when done properly, is pretty tight and strong. I love that I have woven lives together through my everyday and fashion encounters and have always tried to create inclusion in everything I do, but specifically in my designs.

I took the week off before the show to provide ample time for necessary changes, but because I fly by the seat of my pants, I found out Jane’s Addiction was going to Denver the weekend before Austin. As one of my favorite bands, I hadn’t them since the early nineties. And the fun thing about it was, I was seeing them with the person I had seen them with decades ago. So after a quick trip to Denver I got back to work: cutting, sewing, buying last minute embellishments. We were leaving on Friday. I packed my sewing machine and garment bag filled with finished and semi-finished looks. It was definitely going to be a sewing in my room kind of trip.

I was on a budget for this trip. The cost to be in the show was $500, materials $300 and airfare another $250 so I planned on $700 for hotel, food and transportation. I had shopped and shopped for the right priced hotel near the venue. We checked into the hotel and after some issues on figuring out how to split the bill, we dropped our things and walked over to Pappadeux’s for dinner. It was unseasonably cold in Austin. I was planning to show a spring/summer collection and the town was blanketed in a cold front with rain. It was going to be lots of fun for an outdoor venue.

After a day of traveling, we hit the hay. The next day, I set up my atelier at the room desk. Ang relaxed watching movies. I sewed sewed and sewed. We decided to go to the fashion week venue, the Domain, for dinner for the purpose of finding the exact location of the show and to see what the area had to offer. We found a fun Mexican restaurant: cheered to our adventures, had a good meal and after wandering through the local Macy’s, we headed back to the hotel.

The next morning I had an 8:30am call time to do fitting with the models. Waking to freeze warnings, I once again felt bad for my warm weather designs, but as the models came through, they shared after day one they were fully prepared with UGGs and robes that they shook off just before hitting the runway. I was scheduled to show at 3:30pm. While I was bummed that I wouldn’t have my friend, and local, Carmen walking for Hopeless + Cause Atelier. I enjoyed out the looks I created meshed for the models assigned to me. I did have one last minute change but the line up was complete and ready to go.

I always enjoy when I have the time to talk with other designers. It’s wonderful to hear about their backgrounds and creative process. Events like Austin Fashion Week are filled with locals and there is such a big and supportive community locally. I shared a space with a swimsuit designer, Atlantia Swimwear. We shared our love of creating sustainable fashion and building a space for all body types.

Ang arrived about 1pm and I met her so we could get checked in. We did a customary usie and found some seats that she would have a close view of the show. I stayed around for half of the first round of designers. Then headed back upstairs to start dressing the models. I was second on deck for the 3:30pm show. I lined up with the models in an indoor hallway within the building we were working out of because it was so flippin cold to be outdoors until we received instructions to head out to back of house. Ang had asked me if I was going to walk out with the models when the end the show with their carousel walk. Ugh—if you know me, you know I hate that. I like for my designs to speak for themselves.

As we were instructed to head out to line up the models danced, ran in place and bundled closely to the ground to try to stay warm. A minute before we started, I pulled them together a took a photo then they lined up and hit the runway. The songs I chose for the show were: Nelly Furtado x Quarterhead All Good Things (Come to an End) and “Dreams” version by Borelli (thanks for all the inspiring suggestions they provided my motivation while I was creating).

I’m often asked how I find success after a show. Of course if I get an order for a design after a show, that is one measure. But another for me is how I feel after the show and how the audience reacts. I used to want to get picked up by a department store like Macy’s or Bergdorf but really I like being part of the major event in my client’s lives: a wedding, a gala, a special occasion that they have a one of a kind look for. I ended the show coming out to the ruway videotaping the models do their final walk and curtseying.

PC: Fashion By Events

How lucky am that I get to travel to show case my creations for communities all over to see and get to write about it. Once again I’m that woven thread to new places and experiences that I tie together with loved ones who travel with me. Thanks Ang for joining me and for having to deal with my Ms. Adventures…

What’s next…New York in February is booked and I plan to see shows that also produce in Paris. Stay tuned and I hope you will join me.

With light and love,
Dara Sophia Romero