London. The city where I fell in love with retail (and my partner…). The city where I became fascinated with corporate law and walking cities, paving the way for the life and career that lay ahead of me. The city where, almost twenty years later, I just celebrated the opening of my company’s first international store.
I used to walk around Covent Garden, leaving my university’s building just off Trafalgar Square and taking strolling study breaks through the area our store now inhabits. Clearing my head, letting the many thoughts and new learnings synthesize and integrate. Giving myself an energetic burst by walking through the historic streets juxtaposed with the styles of the day.
In fact, I used to walk everywhere. I’d found a dorm in Chelsea and discovered that King’s Road was a treat to wander down every day. From Sloane Square, I delighted in the infinite routes to school. Different streets (and store windows) to spark my imagination and activate my dreams. Would I take Sloane Street up and wrap around through Knightsbridge and Piccadilly? Passing The Ritz and wondering what it was like inside? Would I wander through Belgravia and pass the Palace? Maybe I’d go through Westminster and marvel at the Abbey and Big Ben. Or, perhaps I’d meander along the Thames until I reached Embankment and cut in, enjoying the waterside gardens as I went.
Any way I chose, I passed beautiful frames of fashion and lifestyles that intrigued me. There is something captivating to me about elevated retail and fashion’s power to express and transform. To set the mood. To make the moment. I have always seen fashion as art, and retail can offer such a pure form of that. Functional exhibitions curated with such intention. They make being in a city like being in a gallery.
Those walks were the kindling of daydreams. Infinite fascinations passing by at the clip of my footfall. I didn’t realize it then, but I was treading the path to my future.
At the time, it was just a feeling I got when I walked those streets, looked in those windows and dreamed those daydreams. Nothing concrete, just containing this vital energy. I felt that same energy when I landed in New York the next fall for interviews. Walking the endless streets and peering in enchanting windows the same way I’d done in London. And…I noticed… I was drawn to it, and I knew I had to go. Even though it meant upending the plans to move back to LA I’d been so certain of a year earlier.
As I got into my law practice, I continued noticing. I was attracted to the transactional work I did for its substance, and then I got that familiar energy each time a transaction involved a compelling brand. Working side by side with the General Counsel of a retail client on a transformational deal and getting to see up close the richness that role entailed. Being recruited for a similar opportunity years later. Having the privilege of working with some of the world’s most beloved and iconic brands and, now, building the brand of the future. The energy has kept resurfacing through it all. It’s like each of those opportunities was a guidepost on this path that has, with the most remarkable serendipity, brought me back to where it all began.
I am so grateful for all the forks in the road that presented themselves and the signs, the nudges and the urgings that led me in this way. As I sit at the airport, I am reveling in the incredible journey of life that can bring you full circle in so many delightful and surprising ways. Especially when you pause to notice the sparks…