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Welcome to my online portfolio and blog. I document my adventures as a fashion designer and lover of life lived in color. 

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Sweet 16 in 2015 -- A year for the books

Sweet 16 in 2015 -- A year for the books

It's been one heck of a year. Five major cities, an 8 a.m. Math 111 class, and seven spools of thread later, I can't believe where 2015 has taken me. 

So here's the lowdown of what I've been up to this year! 

What a year!

Ever since I was a little girl I have always had it in my head that being 16 meant holding the world in your hands. I couldn’t wait to turn eight because I was half way there. I couldn’t wait to turn 12 because I was almost a teenager which meant I was almost 16. 

I got my permit on my 15th birthday, speeding the whole way home in hopes of making the world go by me faster. And here I am, well into my 16th year and I have to say that all my anticipation has not left me disappointed. 

Vancouver Fashion Week 2015

Vancouver Fashion Week 2015

Sixteen couldn’t possibly taste any sweeter. 

Models with gold-lined eyes and photographers with their black cameras clicking; white runways glowing against black curtains, yellow taxis littering Fashion Ave., and artists from all walks of life, each with a glittering halo of dreams lifting their feet off the ground. 

2015 has been nothing but an amazing, incandescent adventure.

There is not a thing listed from the above that I asked for. Each of the things I did started with an invitation, and email, or a phone call sent to me. All of the things I did were doors opened by God. I simply walked through them. 

That’s not to say any of it was easy. What is not listed in the above is the fact that I did all of those things while gong to college full time, and while making the dresses for clients that paid for me to actually go through those doors. 

Jenna Stoyles' custom wedding gown

Jenna Stoyles' custom wedding gown

One of my biggest dreams is to attend art school, but losing my father left me without the luxury of a paid-for college tuition. I have worked every summer since I was 11 years old to save money for school.

This summer there were days where I would be in the kitchen all day at the farm, go wait tables at The Cowboy Dinner Tree in the evenings, and get on a tractor after that and bale hay all night, just to start back up in the kitchen in the morning, getting my “40 hour week” done by my Tuesday. 

My dad may have left me without a college tuition, but he did leave me his work ethic, which is something all the money in the world could never buy. 

When I started getting my work “out there” I had no idea how many people would be watching me. Young girls comment on my posts, things like “I wish I could be like you,” or “ You’re so lucky.” It’s easy to see what I do as some kind of magical fairytale, but the truth is that social media never shows the world the whole picture. 

Those girls see the photos of me in my sparkling dresses and picture perfect adventures. What they don’t see is the way I spring out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to meet the day sprinting, my back hunched over a sewing machine for 16 hours straight, the five to seven hours of homework I have when I get home from college classes, or the Friday nights spent alone in my studio sewing beads into garments until my fingers are too bloody to keep going.

They don’t see the never-ending mass of phone calls and emails demanding my attention or the tears of frustration that surface when my trial-and-error method of learning my trade gets the best of me. 

They see my beautiful home, but are unaware of the nine moves it took to get there —the uninsulated, rat-infested homestead my family lived in for the first part of my childhood, where winters could get as cold as 30-40 degrees below zero, or the basement my mom and I shared under a restaurant built in 1928 (the basement used to serve as a speakeasy), where I woke to two inches of water some mornings. 

That being said, I do know I have been given so much, and I am truly grateful. I have a beautiful family that would do anything for me, and a home that is safe and warm. I have been so blessed.  I don’t mention any of the above to complain, but rather in an attempt to balance out the social media illusion that everything is rainbows and roses all of the time.

I really am happy. 

I do leap out of bed running each day, but it’s my excitement that wakes me. I can’t wait to see what the day has in store for me, and though my friends spend their Friday nights out at the movies or in crowded bowling allies, its those nights alone in my studio where I feel most alive. 

It is when I am lost in my work, creating, building something with my own two hands that I know who I am. 

Living in difficult circumstances and working for what I have has taught me to appreciate everything that God has blessed me with. Losing my father taught me to be grateful for the 10 years that he did treasure me, which is so much more than many girls have. 

My brother Andrew, 21, and I doing "The Pretzel" at a summer wedding

My brother Andrew, 21, and I doing "The Pretzel" at a summer wedding

It hasn’t been an easy ride, and I’ll be the first to say that I have had no lack of help. My mom was always there to clear my muddled mind when I became too overwhelmed, and both of my grandmothers have been my biggest fans, encouraging me in so many ways.

Me an' Ronda relaxing after a day in the sweatshop!

Me an' Ronda relaxing after a day in the sweatshop!

My friend Ronda Thornburg spent several days working with me in my studio, helping me reach unmerciful deadlines, and my Home Economics teacher, Brenda Broadbent has sewn in more zippers (my least favorite job) than I can count. Not to mention the fact that Ronda was there for two of my three Canada trips, and Brenda has been in the front row of every fashion show I have ever participated in. 

Times Square selfie with Michele

Times Square selfie with Michele

My neighbor, Michele Ruby, flew with me to New York to introduce me to people in the fashion world whom I never could have met on my own. Other neighbors have left wood in our shed and produce and eggs on our doorstep without ever saying a word. People are so kind to us. 

I have been so greatly stretched by the people I have met along the way. From homeless bikers in the Central Oregon desert, to fashion mavens in New York City, I have met some extraordinary people. 

2015 has come and gone, but sixteen has been pretty darn sweet, and it’s only half over. Tomorrow I may wake up and decide that I’m never going to sew another stitch in my life. And that would be ok. I have no idea what God has planned for my life—most 16-year-olds don’t— but I do know that He will continue to guide me and walk with me. 

Whether I end up making dresses in New York City, teaching sewing to young girls in Cambodia, or just making my daughters really cool princess dresses to play in on a farm somewhere, as long as I remember that I am lacking nothing as a daughter of Christ I will always be content. 

Makin' Hay!

Makin' Hay!

Three-Peice Wedding Set

Three-Peice Wedding Set

Seattle Fashion Week Designer Review

Seattle Fashion Week Designer Review