Runway Runaway Fashion: The Journey of a Muse by Lorelei Shellist
In my last blog I gave you a synopsis of my book Runway Runaway and how it was about following my dreams to travel the world and become a runway model. My book tells the gritty side of a glamorous life. Not to put you off – but to let you know that even when heartfelt dreams come true- there are always challenges along the way. The only reason I was able to write that book was because I survived those challenges and lived to tell the tale. But what I didn’t tell you was how long it took to write-edit- and self publish that book. Remember it wasn’t my idea to write it in the first place. It was the idea of a few tenacious Def Leppard fans who wanted to know the answer to the question of why Steve Clark who seemingly had everything, would take his own life. When I finally wrapped my head around writing a book to satisfy Steve’s fans it was intended to be a book about Steve. Not me.
I finally mustered up the courage to go to NYC to meet with the big literary agents who had replied to my letters. However, the response I got was- “Sorry Lorelei, Steve’s not here to go on Oprah and sell the book- besides we want to hear your story. How did you experience all of that? Go back to Nashville – (where I was living at the time) and write your story.” Well I resisted that idea with all of my might. Who would want to hear my story? I’m not exactly Cindy Crawford. And besides I wouldn’t know how to begin. Then once again the muse began to tug at my sleeve. Everyone I knew argued that I should write the book – of course they would want to read about my life… It was so glamorous and different from theirs. They encouraged me and challenged me until I said ok, I’ll give it a try, and the muse took over.
Runway Runaway Fashion: The Journey of a Muse
Every morning at 6AM I would arrive in front of my computer with a hot cup of PG Tips tea and let my fingers go tapping away on the keyboard. My intention was to write for one hour a day. But each day three hours would pass by without notice and I couldn’t believe what was going down on that screen. It just flowed. Still it took two years from start to finish. Then everything changed – the World Trade Center went down and I put down the book to join the Red Cross clean up the mess where the Twin Towers had once stood high in the sky. A month later I went back to my NY literary agent who told me he was sorry- the publishers weren’t interested in that kind of story now- but if I had a book on terrorism – to bring it on.
Was I disappointed? You bet. I’d just spent two years and a lot of money writing that book. But the world changed on that September day and it was time for everyone, including myself to reassess their lives. I left New York and drove across country to Nashville where I packed up my belongings and headed home to California where it all began. I put my manuscript on the shelf and went back to work as a life-style model in Hollywood. I was forty years old and it was time to pass the “glam-girl” baton to the new faces. The jobs I did now were on cruise ships and cereal boxes and I missed the fashion.
Wanting to do something more, I began giving workshops teaching life skills to at-risk -runaway teens. I felt this was my calling and so I went about getting more credentials so I could validate myself as a legitimate counselor. I applied and was accepted into the two year Masters program in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica. I dove into those classes like a pelican at feeding time, swallowing every morsel of intelligence available to me.
In the second year of the program we were asked to create and produce something that had heartfelt meaning to us. Something we always wanted to do – but never did, or something we started but never finished. The muse showed up again and told me to dust off the manuscript that had been shelved for seven years. It was time to finish what I’d started and get that book out into the world. Runway RunAway would become my calling card, opening doors to all the ways I could be of service in the world by sharing my own life experiences and empowering others. My education at USM taught me how to counsel not only myself, but others whose lives had been affected by other people’s addictions. After traveling the country promoting my book, I returned to LA and became a full time volunteer coaching at-risk teens and women living in a maximum security- lock-down prison.
From behind the gates at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla I’ve sat for hours talking with women dressed in blue whose lives had led them to this cold grey gymnasium looking for someone who will listen to them and treat them like human beings again. I began looking around the room at the unique beauty inherent in each one of them – women from the ages of 18 to 85 who didn’t have the means to shop for chic brands labels. They didn’t have the benefit of a hair colorist or even a manicure. But they all looked amazing to me. I learned that women’s hair starts to go grey at a very young age…and in CCWF they let it grow and flow, because in prison that is the norm. I found their individuality and style inspiring based on the fact that they had such little means to make themselves beautiful by way of consumer products and fashions – but they found a way to express themselves none the less.
I was moved and challenged to understand how and why. I discovered that my lifelong experience in the fashion world was now colliding with my education in spiritual psychology. I began delving deeper into the world beneath that which meets the eye and wrote about it until the muse revealed her message to me again.
In 2014 I founded the Fashion Icon Archetypes™ Personality Programs. A series of inner-style workshops educating people on how to dress from a place inside themselves that is confident, conscious and comfortable. This is not about what your colors are, or what labels you wear…this is about connecting with your “inner- stylist” so you decide what to wear from a place of self-knowing. When you know which archetype personalities are running the show you learn to dress to express who you are – instead of dressing to impress others.
It was from that mindset that I began to value the opportunities I’d had that put me front row center in those couture houses so I could observe just how fashion was made. My curiosity of the history and meaning of fashion has always moved me. I never really cared to know the answer to the question of what other people were wearing – I am always more interested in why people wear what they wear. Meanwhile, the feedback from my universe tells me that I too have a certain sense of style that stands out amongst the crowd. I wasn’t truly aware I had that gift until others pointed it out. And the muse said, “pay attention to yourself too – what are your gifts?” Another seven years had passed – time to reassess, again!
As I counted the blessings I’d received from these extraordinary life experiences I had chosen to have – the ego aspect of my nature – the part that kept me small – began to shrivel and melt away. And what came forward were new ideas- new dreams – new horizons ahead.
Where was I going with all of this? I didn’t even know myself…But I knew what I wanted. A brand that would inspire people to follow their dreams wherever they would take them. And if their lives consisted of travel- whether for business or pleasure- I wanted to make that easier – more comfortable for them. I wanted to help people feel comfortable inside of their skin – no matter what the situation. At work, at, play, on stage, or on the red carpets and runways of the world.
But the muse is always in charge and no one does all of these things alone, and one never knows where an idea will come from. As a matter of fact, it was my assistant, Cindy Gloeckler, who suggested quite strongly and repeatedly, that I start a fashion apparel line of my own! She said, “Lorelei you are a brand. I want you to start a line of your own and I want to help you do it. ”Every hair on my arm stood up and right there in a beer and burger joint in downtown Cleveland, I said “Are you serious? Be careful what you wish for Cindy because I’ve got an idea.”
The next thing I knew I was sketching my first fashion design on a small piece of notebook paper – “Spinal Tap” style.
My own muse appeared once again and The Dream Dress® came through as the signature item for what would become the Runway Runaway Collection® for the woman on the run who thrives in her skin.
Something told me exactly what this dress should be and before I could think about it the words fell out of my mouth. “The Dream Dress® takes you from day to dinner, from dawn to dusk, from dining to dancing, to your wildest heartfelt dreams. It’s a dress that every woman will be able to wear in comfort, in class, in colors, to work to play to wherever her heart leads her.” Many times, over the course of three years, I nearly gave up – spending my own money, working long hours, spinning my wheels and trying to hold on. Cindy never wavered…she’s optimistic to a fault. “You can do this Lorelei I’ve got your back.”
Then out of the blue I received an email from a gal I used to model with on the runways of the world. We were friends in our 20’s but hadn’t seen one another in forever. Stacey Schieffelin. Stacey, and her husband David, built her cosmetic line YBF Beauty line – (which stands for Your Best Friend) into a multimillion dollar company. Stacey sells her products on the Home Shopping Network so she knows the ins and outs of the network trade. I asked her if she would mentor me and she asked me for my pitch.
I took a breath and gave her my elevator speech on “The Dream Dress® will take you from day to dinner, from dawn to dusk, from dining to dancing, to your wildest heartfelt dreams.” Stacey laughed and said, “Lorelei, I hear pitches everyday and that’s the best one yet!” Send me your NDA and anything else you want to share with me and let’s see where this goes. She then introduced me to the woman in Montreal who had helped her put out her own apparel line and we hit it off right away. Cydney Mar is a fantastic designer in her own right, she knows merchandising, manufacturing, and fashion inside out. She “gets me,” and she “gets my line.”
After a couple of months of communicating back and forth between Stacey,David, and Cydney Mar about my brand, it became evident that we were all aligned to develop my Runway Runaway Collection.® Thankfully my dream team, with Cindy Gloeckler as my right hand, and Shelly E. my social network manager as my left, all my lovely ducklings are falling in line. I have never been more excited in my life and I have done some exciting things in my time. I am grateful, enthused and amused by the journey I am on. I hope you’ll come along too as the Runway Runaway Collection® evolves and launches in 2016 because I guarantee there will be The Dream Dress® just for you!
Stay tuned for more Runway Runaway Fashion: The Journey of a Muse
“Don’t let your dreams runaway from you!”