As a child, fashion was never my thing. I was a big fan of the outdoors and anything that looked good with dirt and mud worked for me. Growing up with a military father, education was taken quite seriously! School, work, and then play was the order in my life. I stayed out of trouble and focused on graduating high school with honors.
As an adult, my life changed drastically. I was no longer the vibrant, healthy cheerleader capable of jumping and flipping. Surgery would be the only consistent thing in my life as an adult, as well as a life with Chron’s Disease and kidney stones. Those were obstacles of course, but none as big as the ones that my ovaries laid in front of me. At age nineteen, I had my first battle with endometriosis. By age twenty-one, I had three surgeries under my belt on my right ovary. It was then that I was faced with a big decision. If I wanted to conceive children, now was the time to try, otherwise, I would be looking at a hysterectomy. After three months, I was pregnant with my son and felt absolutely amazing! No more pain, I had conceived naturally, and I was glowing! I gave birth to a healthy boy and he stole my heart immediately! The moment I laid eyes on my son, I knew then that my life would never be the same. It was not about me anymore.
I went in for surgery again for another endometrial tumor just three months after my son was born. I knew if I wanted more children, now was the time. Nine months later, my beautiful baby girl was born! Just when I thought I could never love anything as much as my first born, she showed me that I could love just the same.
Having two children so close in age was challenging. I no longer knew who I was other than a “mother of two!” My job was to take care of my home, my husband at the time, and my two beautiful babies. A partial hysterectomy came just six months after my daughter was born and not long after, I was separated, and divorce papers were filed with my husband of almost ten years.
So, here I was, a divorced, mother of two small children. What in the world am I going to do now? I had lost who I was somewhere along the way.
The first thing I needed to do was find myself again. My closet was my first stop. I bagged up so many pairs of baggy sweatpants, hoodies and t-shirts. I did find my blazers though. I adored my blazers and had quite the collection. The problem was, they were too much trouble to wear. The layers involved in achieving the look I desired with a blazer was exhausting. I was an addict of spanx and owned every pair made, so that was layer number one, and then I’d start layering with the blouses and button downs. It was then, while cleaning out my closet, that I came up with the idea to design a shirt that was exclusively made to be worn with a blazer! It would have all of the necessary qualities needed to achieve the look of a button down blouse, but underneath, it would be compression spandex and hold everything in nice and tight.
I spent all night piecing this prototype together. It came to life in the form of dissected spandex and cut up dress shirts. Everything was held together by sewing pins. This amazing piece had a button down front panel, collar and cuffs that were made from cotton fabric and the rest was spandex. I knew I wanted this to fasten down below because the desire to keep my shirts tucked in was a must for this type of look. So, I took an old bra and cut out the clasp backing and pinned it to the bottom to hold it all together. It was a hot mess, but it was brilliant! I called my attorney the very next morning, who later got me in touch with the patent office. It was then, that I started my journey to receive a patent on this one-of-a-kind design that I now call The Blazer Shaper.
I started my company, Sottile Fashions and Design in November, 2013. Being a stay-at-home mom that homeschool’s both of her children, while starting a new company with a patented design has been more than challenging. A forced hysterectomy in August, 2015 was my breaking point. I felt defeated. I felt weakened. I felt like throwing in the towel.
The support system I had around me was what got me through that moment in my life. I could do this – and I did! Sottile Fashions is now featuring its original design, The Blazer Shaper, in ten colors. We are also working on finishing a complete line for Sottile Fashions featuring the classic shaper in five different looks as well as a petite line!
I now look back on my life and realize that if I never lost myself, I would have never found out who I truly was!
By Jennifer Medicino