This is my 4 yr old niece Blake Emery. My mother had a tradition of taking Jaime and I to Nordstrom’s  on our birthdays and then out to lunch, and my sister is now continuing that tradition with her daughter Blake, who will be 4 tomorrow. I took Blake through a stroll through Nordies while Jaime attended to Ryker. Blake went up to the Valentino display, all by herself, and pointed to the “pretty shoes”, and then she told me as we passed the  MAC makeup counter “Ohh, I will have to buy some of that when I am much older. I am too young now.”

People like to roll their eyes at fashion, scoff that it is materialistic and critique when children get introduced to the world of designer fashion at an age they have deemed as too young. Everyone is allowed their opinions…but fashion has deep seated memories that are extremely sweet to me. And I have to disagree with all the judgement.

My parents loved fashion. My father was an incredible dresser with a true eye for design, both architecturally and fashion wise. He wore the sharpest suites, and Giorgio Armani was his weakness. He also was an amazing bargain shopper. Off to Maryvale we would go, to comb through the Last Chance racks. Yes, Last Chance used to be in a VERY SEEDY part of town. But Paisan Boonlorn was determined to dress his two little girls in Espirit, Guess and whatever else was in at the moment, even if it meant doing it on a tight budget. And my mother, designer handbags were her weakness. Louis Vuitton, Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Gucci, Bally, Ferragamo, she had them all. Many Saturdays were spent going to various department stores to examine the leather on one handbag versus the other — my mother was a bit OCD about the pore size of the Dooney & Bourke leather! I grew up very familiar with Scottsdale Fashion Square and Paradise Valley Mall on multiple levels. My father was an architect, and worked on many Westcor projects — I have blue prints of both Fashion Square and PV mall somewhere in my garage. And I am pretty sure my love of branding, design, fashion and merchandising stemmed from being exposed to it as a child. One birthday party, my sister and I came up with the theme “Dillard’s” and we decorated our entire house like a department store, gave our friends fake credit cards and let them shop from the “merchandise” we had set up.

My father used to save all his quarters in a coffee jar and when it was full, it usually would be enough to buy my mother a Louis Vuttion wallet or Gucci watch. He was an amazing man with the most giving heart and one of the many, many ways he showed his love language was through buying us bits of high fashion. At Christmas, I would go shopping with him for Jaime or my mom, and he would tell me to pick out whatever I wanted, wrap it, and put it under the Christmas tree as if it magically appeared there 😉 We were not wealthy growing up, but my father made sure his girls were never left wanting.

After the accident, while cleaning out my father’s closet, my sister was going through his suits, and found a rather large wad of cash, Jaime took the money and bought me a Louis Vuitton purse for my birthday. The accident came a few months before my 22nd birthday, and I will never forget thinking, that he left it there, so I would still have a nice present even in their tragic absence.

Four years ago I was at Henri Bendel  selling the hair accessories I had designed during their huge headband event. That whole journey to Henri Bendel really started as a child being introduced to fashion and going to the mall with my parents. And my desire to graduate from Parsons,  came from wanting to be a part of the world of design. My father wanted law school for me, but he had instilled a love of fashion and design that could not be denied. He left Thailand, turning down his father’s request that he join the family “black-market-business” to pursue his dreams of getting a masters in architecture at PRATT.  He came to America, with nothing, no money, no family support and no knowledge of the English language. But he did it. He figured out NYC city, found odd jobs, forced himself to learn English, and graduated with a Masters in Architecture from PRATT. And that fighting spirit to go after my dreams versus my parent’s desires is no doubt also in my blood 😉

I paced the floor of Bendels waiting for the call from Bobby to tell me if Jaime had given birth to Blake yet. She arrived on the exact date of my first day of being a designer at Bendels. It made the whole Henri Bendel experience even more magical.

People may say fashion is non-essential and greedy. I see it from a completely different point of view. It is part of my blood, part of my upbringing and now part of my soul. I love that my 4 year old niece gravitated towards the Valentino shoes, and I have no problem encouraging her knowledge of fashion. Life is all about finding your own personal priorities, fashion may not be a priority to some, but that is just their view point, and we all have to carry out our own personal journey, one way is not better than the other, it simply is finding what is alignment with your soul…and maybe the love of design and fashion is in the Boonie alignment. As I look back at my own journey and I tune out the white noise that loves to pull me in a different direction ;-), I can clearly see fashion is most definitely the path I am supposed to be on!

Happy Birthday Blake! Your aunt Jenn LOVES you ohhh so very much! To my buddying little fashionista!