ABOUT JO LEE
Writing about yourself is hard. When I first started writing this section, I did it in third person.
“Jo is the modern day poster child for globalization. Being raised as a third-culture-kid created a world with no borders for her. Jo’s first ambition was to be become Mariah Carey…until she discovered her mother’s high heels. Shoes became one of three obsessions in Jo’s life – the other two are travel and freedom. Jo ’s need for freedom motivated her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a Shoepreneur. Jo believes that every woman’s style is uniquely her own and hopes that her shoe designs will complement their style, attitude and personality. Jo…”
About eighty-six drafts and countless empty wine bottles later, I stopped. The statements are true – but talking about myself in the third-person just didn’t feel right. And frankly, it’s not me.
Truth be told, Très Jolee is a long-time idea that was impregnated in my mind since I graduated high school. But that’s all it was for a long time: a fetus of an idea, stuck in my mind. I could ramble on about the long journey, twists and turns, ups and downs, excuses and inspirations, procrastinations and motivations that finally got me here…but I think I’ll save the exclusive until Vogue comes knocking on my door.
My parents constantly told me that the path to success was a series of boxes you had to check off: get top grades, apply to a famous university, get a degree in law, medicine or engineering, get a good corporate job, earn money, save money, buy insurance, buy a house, find a good husband, get married, start a family and go to church.
I did none of the above.
Instead I spent the first half of my rebellious 20s doing everything opposite of what they told me because I wanted “to be free”. I partied, travelled, spent a lot of time “hanging out”, meeting friends, meeting boyfriends, buying shoes, going broke, working, buying shoes, buying champagne, going broke, working, buying shoes…I lived this vicious cycle on repeat.
When I did make an effort to be responsible and apply for a corporate job in fashion, I was rejected. Every single job application (including a non-paying internship) was denied; and always with the same response: not qualified, not enough experience, not the right fit, no degree in fashion…the list goes on. All the “no” reminded me of my parent’s checkboxes. All the “no” only fueled my desire to prove them wrong.
I didn’t though. Not yet anyways.
18th March 2014. The day I finally understood the meaning of “life’s too short” when the man I loved and respected most in the world unexpectedly passed away. My father made a living, living his dream and losing him was a sobering moment for me. It was the final wake-up call I needed to understand that the timing won’t always be perfect, I will never be 100% ready and the day will come when it’s too late. The irony of it all is…I lost the person who supported me most only to find the support I needed to work on my dream…and by work, I mean finally putting in writing a concrete plan.
This is not some motivational success story about how I miraculously woke up one day, figured out what I wanted to do with my life, made a plan and launched a business overnight. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a reckless, wild, hedonistic girl with no sense of urgency to start anything and I sure as hell don’t claim to be a success story (yet). This is just an honest account of how I came to create Très Jolee from a very personal journey.
Très Jolee is more than making a dream come true. It’s proof that something good can be born out of something bad. It’s proof that something hopeful can be created out of something painful. It’s proof that as long as you keep your head up, your eyes on the prize and your feet walking forward…you can accomplish your dream.
So that’s exactly what I’m going to do – put on a pair of Très Jolee shoes and keep walking forward.
Will you walk with me?