Chapter 3: A Woman's Business

A dress can change a person’s life. A pair of shoes can represent freedom. This is how I got from there to here, and why this matters.  

Wear Gold Shoes on the Day of Emancipation 

June 2011, I signed a document in my lawyer's office, and asked, "when will this be over?" He replied, "right now. You are free". . . . to which I replied, "Well, it's a good thing that I wore gold shoes today."

This was the day of my emancipation. I know.  That seems like a strong word. This word is usually a word reserved greater events than a single woman's freedom, but to me, it was a defining event in my life time. In that moment, it felt like a victory, but I was later to realize that my life would never be the same. That I would never be the same again. 

When I say that I would never be the same again, I now understand that to be a good thing. But at the time, the Lynn who allowed others to bully her, who believed that if she worked harder and longer hours to refine her craft she would finally be good enough, was lost. On the day I signed those papers, I thought I could go back to my career and that this horrible experience would become a distant memory.  But I was wrong, because freedom comes with a price.

At the age of 50, I was unemployed after a successful 26 year career because I chose to stand up and say no to being bullied. My price was a shattered confidence, and the end of a life I had worked so hard for.  When the door closed behind me, there was no going back, and I had to learn a new way forward. 

As I lay there on the kitchen floor in tears, I remember thinking: what would I do if I could not fail? I wrote this in my journal: 

"I would publish stories that are read world-wide about interesting and inspiring people who live and work in their passion. I would be an instigator of personal freedom.  I would inspire people to accept and live in their own vision, and be inspirational to others to do the same. I would publish the book that changes the way we look at work. I would inspire a revolution of iiving in colour.  I would paint the sky all the colours of possibility."


"I would paint the sky all the colours of possiblity."

I found SKY Magazine serendipitously for sale on KIJIJI in the fall of 2012 and by November of 2012, I would be standing in a field of snow photographing my first cover.  

Nadia Williamson, owner of NWL Dresses was the first woman on my cover.  There in that pristine white snowy field, dressed in a Pronovious gown from her shoppe, she looked up to the sky as we all do and that was the shot.

I chose a dress from Nadia's shoppe for my publisher photo, and the moment I walked out of the dressing room and saw myself, I felt fearless and beautiful.

This dress that brought me back to life is still in my closet on a mannequin. I look at it every day. It reminds me that I can do hard things. That I am bigger than my fears. 

Fear is powerful. It forces us inside of ourselves and in doing so, it protects those who oppress and inflict pain on us. 

Publishing SKY set me free. . . it gave my voice a place and a purpose - to do what I’m best at - to stand in someone’s shoes and listen, and tell a story from their perspective so that others could read it and say “me too”. I believe in the power of the written word, which is why I am here, telling you why she matters. Why we matter. 

A wise woman once told me, "the only way out is through". Change is not an event. It is a process, a series of steps.  Most of the time, we don't know where those steps will take us.  But taking a step is better than lying on the kitchen floor crying. 

In 2016 ZÖE came into my life.

It had always been a part of my shoe story, and I wanted to see the store continue.  And I saw something that no one else had seen.

So I became the owner of Regina's premier shoe store, where our collective stories would be woven into the fabric of a woman’s vision through the power of fashion. With a refresh of the brand and a multi media platform, I stepped into the unknown, once again. And with the help of my family, my vision was brought to life. 

As I said in Chapter 1, there are many things I did not know, and many questions I did not  know to ask, but I am a good student in the school of life and lemons. And especially over the past 4 years, I have been asked why I haven't just walked away. Shut it down.  Let it go.  These are all good questions. I ask myself these questions too. 

Recently a visitor at my shoppe asked me if ZÖE is my hobby while she was trying a pair of shoes that she loved.

This is not the first time, but I have to admit, it always confounds me . . . would you ask a man that question? 

"No, but it would be easier if it was,” I replied, “if it was just a hobby, I would have let go of it a long time ago.”

What keeps me here is the next step and sheer hope most days. What if the step that makes the difference is the next step? What if I couldn’t fail, what would I do?

Letting go is difficult.  ZÖE is a manifestation of my vision, my financial investment, my creativity and my ability to actually bring an idea to life that before me did not exist in this way and will never exist again.  

But then there are voices continuously saying she’s not worth it financially and there is the very real cost of time. I am very good at weathering storms, but sometimes I don’t know when to come out of the rain. 

Standing in another woman's shoes  . . .
I get it though.  Those who do not understand what it is create something from an idea and shape it, and protect it, and celebrate it, cry with it, dance with it, grow with it, and sacrifice when it falters will never know what I know. What we know.  They think fashion is frivolous and that a fashion business - very often a woman’s business - is not a serious business worthy of respect. 

But she hasn’t seen what I have seen . . .. that fashion is not frivolous nor is it a hobby. It’s powerful. And inspiring. And unifying. I have seen this countless times over the years in my shoppe. My guests have shared their stories with me - from weddings, to funerals, good bosses, new jobs, bad bosses, emancipations . . .

It's personal.   And it's transformational. It’s woman’s business.  

On March 9,  I attended a fashion show fundraiser hosted by Nadia’s bridal boutique NWL Dresses. I saw fashion raise over $550,000 for the YWCA Centre for Women and Families so they can find the help they need to escape their oppressors, realize their worth, raise their children and literally change the shape of their lives and the lives of their children.

I personally feel this initiative is the most important thing our city can do for our people.  As a mother, a woman, a survivor and a warrior, I know that getting out of a bad circumstance takes help, courage, tools, support and perseverance. This is the very definition of “woman’s business”, because we shape the world for ourselves and each other. 

My little business is part of this by virtue of every woman who comes in search of confidence. Even if she’s not conscious of it. When she says - I don’t go anywhere, she’s saying - I’m not worth the price of something beautiful, and she’s telling me her confidence is suffering. I hold space for her as she stands looking in the mirror trying to rationalize her value.

Whether she purchases the item or not, that moment of private reflection is priceless. However small, it is a step in moving toward awareness that she matters.  

So what I see is this tiny little place that seemingly dwells in obscurity can and does inspire confidence the way the dress did for me in 2012.

If I could shout something from the rooftop about a woman’s business it would be this: 

We are the change that the world needs.
We are part of our collective experience as women.  
We matter.
We shape the world.
We give life.
We shape life.
We shape values.
We shape minds.
Our families and communities need us to be powerful, not fearful. Fear stops us from healing. And inspiring. And healing not just ourselves but our families, and yes, the world.

So are we trivial? Is this a hobby? No. This is a business about finding our voices and showing up. And it has afforded me the privilege of being allowed to serve my customers and my community, by hearing their stories and helping them find confidence and know their power. And to be a part of great changes in my small, seemingly obscure way. 


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