I was never that girl who had everything dialled from a young age, all I knew was that I wanted to travel just like my sister. If you would have asked 12-year-old Emma what she wanted with her life she would have replied simply “Travel the world”.
So when I graduated at 18 from college, a friend and I packed our backpacks and my dad drove us to the ferry port in Dover, Kent (I am English). We jumped on the ferry to Calais, France and off we went on our first adventure. 10 wonderful months later we returned and I have had the travel bug ever since.
The Next Ten Years
I spent the next 10 years travelling Europe, India, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and North America. I travelled over 40 countries, going on amazing adventures and working when I ran out of money. I had such an incredible time making lifelong memories and friends.
I thought this would be my life forever. Then when I was 29, living in Panorama, a small ski town in B.C I realized I was ready to go back to school. I was ready, I hadn't lost the travel bug, I just wanted something different.
I think you know which way I went
I am a big fan of making a pros and cons list when making decisions, so I made one for what I wanted to do after I graduated. I thought if I figured out what I wanted after I graduated I could figure out a path to get there.
I realized that I wanted to live in the mountains, snowboard and bike when I wanted, work for myself, have variety, it has to be fun and I wanted to learn a skill. My possible career list consisted of fashion design, upholstery, Interior design or architecture.
Fashion school wins
So at 32, I packed my bags and drove to Olds, Alberta, with zero sewing experience but a huge desire to learn. Over the next 2 years, I put my head down and socked up as much knowledge as I could.
The fashion design course was one of the hardest things I have done. It was 6, sometimes 6.5 days a week 10-18 hour days. I woke up with a red bull and went to bed exhausted, it was intense and the learning curve was steep.
Learned so much
I picked the course in Olds rather than Vancouver or Toronto because I wanted to focus on the actual sewing rather than the design. I knew what I wanted to make, I just needed to know-how. I knew I didn't want to go live in New York or Millan, or design for someone else, I wanted to make clothes for the streets, cool practical clothes for us all.
We learned everything to do with sewing techniques, pattern drafting, fashion illustration and fashion history. We worked on lingerie, ski wear, swimwear and high-end couture fabrics. It was fun, it was stressful, it made me cry and I spent too many hours unpicking days of work. I realized that I loved seeing fabrics come alive, being able to create cool wearable designs and I realized I was never going to do beading ever again. Beading sucks, so don't ever ask!
Being 32 and a student
I loved going back to school in my 30s because I was at school for one reason, my playtime was over, the course needed my full attention, and I was there to learn. It was perfect because I was 5 hours from all my friends in Panorama which meant I had no distraction, nothing else to do, and no ski hills to play on.
The teachers were extremely knowledgeable and I soaked up every word they said and every stitch they created. Yes, it was intense, but it was incredibly rewarding and one of my most proud experiences.
There is no perfect age to go back to school, it's just when your belly says “now's the time to learn”. If you want it, you will get it. Have fun and go follow your dreams.