Blogging. A few years ago, I considered it to be a “cute hobby” for people with too much time on their hands, or for established professionals that were far more important than little old me. I probably had this limiting belief because I wasn’t very confident about my own abilities and knowledge. In 2009, I made my initial attempts at blogging after watching the movie Julie Julia. If someone could create a successful blog, book, and film about attempting to cook their way through a cookbook, what was my excuse? Blogging isn’t about being perfect. It’s not about having all the answers. Blogging is about sharing your passions, your struggles, your perspective in a unique way – with YOUR voice.
One of the things I am most grateful for that has resulted from my blog is working on The Stieg Collection. So much of cataloging and archiving a fashion collection is done in private. I’ve worked for Calvin Klein, which considers it’s archive a proprietary secret. Private clients are also mostly interested in safeguarding their privacy. And with many schools, publicly writing about anything on campus means jumping through endless hoops of approvals and revisions. The Baum School of Art gave me full creative vision in writing about The Stieg Collection.
The Stieg Collection. Image courtesy of The Baum School of Art.
Whenever I write, I pick topics that pull at my heartstrings. I never want to present anyone or anything in a bad or unfavorable light. I’m not into defaming or damaging people, companies, or objects. That is not how I operate as a person. To me, life is about pursuing your bliss. I want to fill every moment of my life with ideas, people, and work that I absolutely love. This is always the framework from which I operate while writing.
There is so much that I love about working on The Stieg Collection. First of all, just being able to look at and touch the wonderful racks of garments is pretty amazing. Researching and recording the history of the Utah Tailoring Mills has also been exhilarating. But learning about the Stieg family has been even better!
Jane and Robert Stieg, 1971. Image courtesy of The Baum School of Art.
Jane and Robert Stieg were high school sweethearts. They fell in love at age 16, married at age 22, and built a beautiful life together. They were married for 62 years and had two sons – both of whom I am so honored to have met “virtually” because of my blog! From the onset of working on this collection, I could tell that Jane and Robert were amazing people. They had great taste in clothing, and cared for everything meticulously. But this is just the surface level. Jane had passed away in 2004. Robert carefully cared for Jane’s belongings, hoping to donate them to a museum or school that would use them. Not only did Robert want to create a tribute to his wife, he wanted to make a philanthropic donation. He could have easily sold Jane’s clothing, or just have disposed of it. But he didn’t. He wanted the garments to be useful, and to tell a story.
Robert also recently passed away. I’m so sad that I never got a chance to speak with him myself. However, I do have the opportunity to speak with Jane and Robert’s sons. They have shared more information on their incredible parents. They’ve assured me that Jane and Robert never fell out of love. Robert Stieg Jr explained a bit more about the collection to me in a blog comment:
Monica, your blog posts are terrific, and I know both my mother and father would have enjoyed them tremendously. My mother loved wearing the clothes and my father made the gift of them in the hope that others would enjoy them and find them useful as they pursured their own paths.
Jane and Robert Stieg, 1994. Image courtesy of The Baum School of Art.
I always find clothing interesting and useful. But this is because they always tell a story. Clothing tells about the time period, the political conditions, social groups, and so much more. The ways that individuals amass a wardrobe also communicates their personal identity. I think that Jane Stieg’s wardrobe tells a great deal about her. She was classy, put together, and definitely took a lot of pride being Robert’s wife. Ironically enough, you can tell a lot about Robert by Jane’s clothing. He bought her the best he could afford, he wanted to make her happy, and saved the garments she loved so that her memory could live on. What could be more beautiful than that?
Many thanks to Phillip and Robert Stieg, The Baum School of Art, and Boyd Bingham! And remember, you can see objects from The Stieg Collection at our VINTAGE event! Buy your tickets soon, as there is a limited number available.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow here in the States. I love this holiday because it reminds everyone to be grateful for what they have. Writing and maintain this blog keeps me in a permanent state of gratitude. This post is a special THANK YOU to the many wonderful people, places, and organizations that are very close to my heart:
- My readers. Every single time I get a comment, like, or new follower I am just tickled pink! It’s so humbling to know that people not only read my writing, but like it. Thank you so very much for reading. And please know that I love your comments and questions. Feel free to contact me anytime!
- My family & friends. These are the people behind the scenes that allow the magic to really happen. They let me ask them questions. They encourage me. They let me blog about them. They support me through the ups and downs that come with the creative process. I don’t know what I would do without them!
- Other bloggers. The blog-o-sphere is a huge place. It can seem overwhelming when you first start your own blog. At first, I considered other blogs competition. Over time, I realized that bloggers have such a tight knit community and are very supportive. I’ve developed great relationships with other bloggers. We write guest posts for one another, we chat of the phone – we even shop together. I learn so much from other bloggers. They each bring a unique perspective to the subjects of fashion, art, design, and other creative disciplines. I’m so grateful for each and everyone one of you that shows up to your computer to share your passions with the world. Be sure to check out my blog roll and visit some of my favorites!
- IFB. Also known as Independent Fashion Bloggers. This is a fantastic community. Their site offers so many unbelievable tips and information for creating and growing a successful blog. Even though the site caters to those of us on the fashion side, their resources are valuable for anyone developing a website or blog. I attended the conference in SoHo this year, and it was extremely inspiring. A very special thank you to Jennie Tamm for starting IFB!
- The Baum School of Art. The Baum School of Art is a community art school that offers a variety of courses to children, teens, and adults. They are a non-profit institution, and work tirelessly to bring the arts to underprivileged children and to communities where arts education has been denied. In addition, they have a fashion program in collaboration with the Lehigh Carbon Community College. Director Shannon S. Fugate saw the importance of having a study collection for the fashion students, and secured The Stieg Collection for the fashion curriculum.
As if providing arts education was not enough, The Baum School of Art has now preserved a historically significant collection of American couture.
- Worn Through. Working with other fashion scholars is inspiring. I love contributing to Worn Through. There perspective on fashion as an academic discipline is always enlightening. I’m so thankful for the Worn Through team and all of the wonderful resources on the site.
- My teachers & my students. Learning is a lifelong process. I’m grateful for all of the wonderful teachers in my life, past and present. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be a teacher, too. Leading a classroom has actually taught me quite a bit. There are things I’ve learned about myself, like how to be a better public speaker, how to be an approachable authority, and how to manage expectations. And of course, I’m always learning from my students.
- Things that quiet my mind. Obviously, I do a lot of thinking. Ideas come and go in my mind very quickly. Sometimes this is great. It gives me a lot of content to write about. But sometimes, it is very difficult for me to let go, to stop thinking. Taking breaks and getting distance from your work helps your overall creativity. So I am grateful for all of the things that help me quiet my mind. Yoga is one the best things that help me to detach and stay quiet. I’m especially appreciative for Yogaglo, a website from which you can stream classes.
- My “editor”. Pets just make life better. My dog makes me so happy, especially when he likes to act as editor. :)
Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!