LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF - the early years

Posted by Cristina Radu on

It felt appropriate that my first zMoxy blog post would be an introduction of who I am.  Not that any person can be captured entirely in a blog post or a few, for that matter, but I will try to give you at least a sense of where I come from and what I am about.  So here goes, the first installment of my personal story.   

I was born in Communist Romania in 1960 to a family of artists:  my mother was a custom tailor and my father a designer.  As such, I grew up alongside my parents creating!

I was sewing on my mom’s classic Singer machine as early as the age of 3, first sitting in my mother's lap so she could operate the pedal, later on standing up to be able to operate the pedal myself.  Besides being a nuisance on a daily basis to my mom, whose work I was interrupting, one occasion stands up:  the day when I sewed several stitches right through my fingernail.  I was so stunned that I did not even cry.  I ran to the bathroom, stuck my finger in an alcohol bottle, and shortly, to my mom's dismay, I was back at it...I was not going to get from under her feet any time soon.  That day, I learned that I was responsible for protecting my digits from the tools I was using (even if I still occasionally saw through my finger!) and my parents learned that I was stubborn enough to not let something as simple as hurting myself as an excuse to stop using said tools.  


Above, my parents on their wedding day in January 1956 and a couple of snapshots with me.

Because tailoring was my mom's livelihood, she was not able to take the time to teach me how to measure a model and cut the fabric and assemble the pieces.  I remember that I learned simply by looking at what she was doing day in and day out but once I started crafting clothing for my ever-patient doll models she helped if I was unable to get something done.  It was a lot of trial and error, figuring things out by myself.  Not much different from learning how to make jewelry much later in my life.  Anyway, my dolls soon acquired new wardrobes that I remember distinctly included shirts with collars and cuffs…maybe not exactly what you would have expected of a preschool girl to make, but rather miniature imitations of the items my mother was creating.  

In the early days of school, I remember my father often covering the living room table with a thick plank of plywood, transforming it into a serviceable workshop.  I would take my place catty corner from him, carefully watching every move he made, asking numerous questions, then demanding that I give it a try myself and so we'd end up working for hours side by side.  There was the time I was bending thin sheets of copper to make my own one-of-a-kind relief representations of drawings and using them to adorn the walls of the only bedroom of our tiny apartment; a bit like the repoussé technique in silversmithing.  As years passed, he taught me the ins and outs of making molds of 3-D objects, such as eyeglass frames, how to carve wood, and assemble components of various objects that his employer was fabricating.  I learned about saws, pliers, hand drills and bits, and many other tools he had collected over the time, none of which were powered by electricity.  I also learned the value of creating one's own tools.  

Having the opportunity to create mini-projects mimicking my parents often trumped going outside to play with my friends.  And so I continued learning and gradually, I got better at what I was doing.  Later on, in high school, mostly because I could not simply go out and buy clothing that I wanted or fit me, I started making my own, fabricating everything from swimsuits, to party outfits, to ski parkas and padded jumpsuits.  I also funded many vacations and small luxuries by selling various items of clothing and crafts that I made. 

Looking back, I see that my fascination with the transformation of raw materials into objects of desire started at the living room table of our communist-era minuscule apartment.  And even if crafting did not take a position of preponderance for a long time as life took me on two continents, into an entirely new culture, and throughout my career in environmental engineering, the desire to be a designer and a maker was always there, awaiting the right moment to emerge and flourish.

I believe it is because of my relationship with fashion and design at such an early age that I developed a sensitivity for uniqueness, individuality, proportions, and proper fit.  My mom always created one-of-a-kind clothing for her clients and counseled them relentlessly to wear what fit their bodies, regardless of the trends of the season.  I vividly remember her saying: “You know why French women look so chic and beautiful?  Because they wear what looks good on them, not because they wear what is fashionable.”  And to me, she kept repeating:  “A well fitted classic piece of clothing will look perfect on you for many years to come.  And we are not rich, so we cannot afford to waste money on cheap stuff that not only will look its value, but won’t last either.” 

So dear readers, this was the foundation from which I started building my jewelry business.  I am one of those fortunate people who loved what I did as a profession for 32 years and now have the opportunity to again do what I love for hopefully many years to come.  Please join me on this journey!  And stay tuned for a soon-to-come second installment of my introduction: the recent years! 

Be well, my lovelies!

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  • I enjoyed reading your story! It reminds me of me and my girls. Best of luck!

    Yael on

  • I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more, as well as seeing more of your creations!

    Christina Bouajila on

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