My all-time favorite place to work in NYC, The Hudson Commons

Yesterday, I ran to a local fabric store looking for last minute embellishments for a dress I’m working on. Going through the rows and rows of material, nothing spoke to me. Even as I sit in front of my computer, I am at a loss of words. I am not feeling inspired and it is the worst feeling. I know why; I am lacking miles.

While I have not become an international traveler just yet, I have been fortunate enough to travel out of state at least once a quarter. In fact, last year because of my work obligations, my yearning to see friends and spend quality time with my kids, I clocked 28,722 miles, visited 8 states and the District of Columbia. I provided a glimpse as a tour guide to friends and family members who hadn’t visited some of my favorite places. I worked on a mountain top and near the coast line. I had one-on-one time with each of my kiddos (I decided for their birthdays that they would receive gifts of experiences and memories, not material items). I witnessed their grins from ear-to-ear as they were able to enjoy their passions of musical theater and outdoor art and beauty. We, the three amigos, traveled a trifecta of times together as a pack, and they were able to sit front row for one of my shows on a hotel rooftop on a beautiful, CLEAR afternoon in San Francisco and got to experience the magic of NYC during the Christmas season. I was able to take them along because of the gifts I received throughout the year and the points I had accumulated.

A travel must…fresh flowers from local markets like these peonies from Seattle’s Pike Market.

My daughter taught me that I should ALWAYS book a hotel room with a freestanding tub and fill it with flowers and local bath products because that, in itself, is a vacation even when it is a work trip.

Taking Reservations for NYFW SS19 and AW19 seasons. Inquire within. 🙂

Nothing makes me smile more than giving someone a glimpse of my New York and definitely, love when I get to show my travel companions Fashion Week.

But the best thing about traveling is immersing yourself into the location. Do you ever travel and just people watch? I do this ALL THE TIME. Either sitting at a café, patio or walking around the city with my earbuds in and shades on. I love hearing the languages swirling around my head and seeing the street fashion (it’s just as incredible in Denver as it is in NYC). And when I don’t have the budget to travel afar, I travel to my little piece of Europe–Santa Fe, NM. I sit on the patio at Mangiamo Pronto, with my Prosecco and Caprese Salad and watch what is happening around me.

Why do I love to travel? It opens up a world of possibilities in my creativity. It gives me sanity and it reminds me of the freedom I have to explore new places. I actually enjoy the open road more than traveling by plane when I can. My reason: I get to explore hidden places along the way, see the beauty of the landscape and skylines, listen to my favorite music while playing Carpool Karaoke AND if I am the passenger, dance in my seat (well sometimes, when I’m driving solo on a long stretch of highway I dance in the driver seat). Once I reach my destination I try to take advantage of what my destination has to offer: cuisine, art, outdoors, music, sports and relaxation.

Air travel is not glamorous in my mind. Gone are the days of dressing up and the customer experience; it’s more like a cattle round up (I’ll let you know if that changes when I get my own private jet). I have to be careful what I pack, plan on being at the airport two hours early (I don’t like running to the gate…I missed more than one flight because back up at security). In certain airports, I need to be prepared that once I do pass through security, that the gate will change and I’ll have to run through the airport to the right gate like Home Alone, or even better, my flight will be delayed and my original arrival time of 8:00pm becomes midnight (or more like the red-eye pushed out an additional hour and a half on the day before your fashion show).

Traveling, I only stop at exits
Wondering if I’ll stay (stay)
Young and restless
Living this way, I stress less – Nelly Furtado

Travel is not without it’s pitfalls. As I mentioned missed flights and delays, I’ve also dealt with lost luggage, getting lost in general, and if you read, I Scream. You Scream., sometimes it doesn’t start off on the right foot. One time, I actually forgot my purse at home on a west coast road trip. I didn’t realize it until we reached Gallup, NM and went to pay for something. Thank God it was my birthday (my actual birthday), so my wish that year was that no one could be mad at me when we had to turn around to get it (it added 3 hours to our first destination, Las Vegas, NV, and became comedic story later).

So when I saw the AirBNB commercial in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on certain countries’ citizens traveling to the United States, it made me realize how important it is to us, as human beings, to travel to different places. We learn about cultures through the experience of sights, sounds, touch, taste and feels. We learn to appreciate differences and similarities that we all have. Our country from the very beginning was made up of explorers: from the first citizens who crossed over the Bearing Strait to the Europeans conquerors. I can’t believe we aren’t welcoming ALL just because a select few have done harm. If that was the case, I’m surprised we, as Americans, haven’t been banned from traveling to most foreign countries because of the current administration’s isolationist and divisive attitudes, and the treatment of migrant families seeking asylum.

From my view at NYU’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Festival to Urban Chicness in Nob Hill (ABQ photo via Erin Killion Photography)

My design has been influenced by the places I’ve visited. The colors, the access to fabric and materials, the sights and structures all play a role and that influence is from traveling stateside. Sometimes my photos are even printed on the materials I use.

And here I am today, again feeling the need, no, the intense craving to travel. I went into 2018, visiting NYC once again for fashion week and again being able to see NYC for the first time through the eyes of one of my best friends, Laura. A month later, I was playing at Universal Studios with my kids and enjoying the sound of the ocean. I layered this leisure with work in the LA garment district.

I went into the year planning to show for the first time internationally with an invitation to London Fashion Week, immediately contacting the BG to get to work on teaching me French because I was definitely going to cross the Chunnel into Paris for a spell.

And then life happened, as it normally does, my contract ended. The lack of income stability, car problems and other unexpected expenses zapped my bank account. Fortunately, the start of a new position is helping me get back on track and catch up on outstanding bills from a few months of being unemployed. However with the start of a any new role, no available paid time off yet, and the lack of seniority to ask for time off, I had to rethink how to fill this wanderlust. I’ve considered a weekend road trip–going to Scottsdale, but as hot as it’s been here, I opted to not spend time on the surface of the sun in July. I was also invited to go to Denver and nearly hit the road a few weeks ago but the stars didn’t align, so instead for the moment, I’ve been living vicariously through friends and family that have been sharing their domestic and international travel photos or even better yet, sending me post cards (P.S. I love receiving them! You can send them to me at PO Box 65035, ABQ, NM 87193 with the simple note…”wish you were here”). I love those photos more when they include a little Hopeless + Cause Atelier.

A family trip to the Badlands of North Dakota and Mount Rushmore included a H+CA tee (and a special young man who celebrates his birthday also on July 5th…happy birthday month A!)

I’m about half way through my birthday month, and who knows. I may hit the road to go hiking on my mountain or head out of state for a little escapade. Maybe I’ll just take the train to Santa Fe and play tourist in my favorite American-European town. I will get back in my travel grove soon enough and get that injection of inspiration (even blogging about it NOW has got my mind churning and I realized the dress I’m completing is traveling to Egypt). Until then, I keep this close to me:

I LOVE this but don’t know who to credit.

With light and love and a touch of wanderlust, and wondering, where are you traveling to?

Dara Sophia