About us

How did I know that a hazy memory from many decades ago would be the key inspiration for the journey I am about to embark upon?

I have always associated my grandmother with being an animal loving, fiery tornado of a woman. But there are two words that I associate with her, above all other: The Ladies Shop.  Her custom dress shop was a sanctuary for the women in the city she lived in, a place where dreams were woven.

 I used to sit behind the counter of the shop, pinning together a few scraps of fabric and trying to stay out of the way.  One by one, women would come into the shop to talk to her. They would all ask for something they didn't quite have words for:

 "I want something modern." 

 "I want something that fits well."

 "I want something that no one else has."

 I want something that makes me feel beautiful. 

That last one was unsaid, but my grandmother knew. she always knew. Without another word, she would roll out yards and yards of silks, chiffon, cottons and voile across the countertop. The ladies' anticipation would build with each layer of fabric until at last, a gasp of joy.

The choice was always different depending on the woman. Was it the teenager who had finally earned her freedom to make her own decision without her mother's interfering? Was it the young woman who was to be married the following week to a stranger and needed an extra dosage of courage to face her in-laws? Or was it the harried mother who wanted something to cover up the scars life had ravaged upon her? 

Often, it was all of these women during various phases of her life.  My grandmother's shop wasn't just a place to get a new dress made. Instead it was a therapy session, a confession, a meeting with an old friend. Each woman's story was woven into her new dress.

"Yes, that's the one," the woman in question would reach out and caress the fabric between her fingers. "This one." The fabric was then swept away to the master tailor to create a new coat of armor to protect the woman from the modern battle she was about to fight. 

She would squeeze the woman's hand at this point. You're safe here.

At the age of six, I didn't realize what an extraordinary thing my grandmother had accomplished. She was the first true entrepreneur I'd ever known but more than that, she was both role model and fairy godmother to women when they needed someone to look them in the eye and really understand the secret dreams they had. And doing this in Asia when she was in her twenties wasn't just unusual, it was unimaginable. 

Now so many years later, I have finally stopped wondering why I have this voice in my head that tells me that it's my crusade to empower people and help them achieve those secret dreams,  the ones they never tell anyone because they are just too grand, too unattainable, too ambitious.

The voice in my head is my grandmother's voice. It's always been her voice commanding me to complete the mission she'd started over 50 years ago.  I used to be afraid to embarking on this journey alone, but today I realize that I'm not alone. I have never been alone. Though she passed away earlier this year, she is with me. She has been with me all along and she will be with me always: my muse, my role model and my fairy godmother.

Welcome to Prima Dona, armor for the modern battle. When you wear a Prima Dona, you're not just in an outfit you love. You are in armor that will protect you from what you will face today.  And you are not alone. You have inherited a tribe of people who've got your back. 

You're safe here.

 (The first Prima Dona pieces will ship in the fall of 2016)