My dear friend and mentor Ella Little quite unexpectedly passed away. It was a year ago and I think about her often. It was only the week before we had lunch at a teahouse by my studio. She raced into the parking lot in her white BMW convertible with her name, Ella, stamped on the license plate and confidently marched into the restaurant. She sported fur crested high black boots, a long black cashmere coat, black body suit, and was loaded with her signature Karyn Chopik bling! Hard to believe this vibrant dynamic woman was 83 years old. She seemed to possess the secret to the fountain of youth. I believe it was two things: her grit and her love of life.
Her journey was not easy one and is an interesting story. In the 1960’s she and her family left everything behind them in their home in Saskatchewan and drove their trailer across western Canada on their way to the coast. Outside Vancouver in a community called Langley, she noticed a "For Sale" sign in a small dress shop window. Following a hunch, she exchanged her vehicle to purchase the shop. Through much hard work and tenacity, 33 years later Ella and her dress shop became a legend in the fashion industry. With an eye for the next trend she traveled extensively to NY, Toronto, Montreal and Europe to dress the well -healed women from the lower mainland and Vancouver. There wasn’t a showroom across Canada who didn’t know her name and her buying power, and my oh my could she buy! Top clothing designers would even fly her to NY and Milan to look at their latest collections.
Ella believed in me. She promoted my product ever since the day I started. Over the years, she spent countless hours pouring over my latest designs offering her feedback and support. She always encouraged me to do my own thing as a designer and would tell me “there is no one who does it like you kiddo, so go big or go home”
Somehow everything always seemed to be okay knowing she was around.
She was my mentor, my strength, and my friend. When she passed away I took it very hard until one day I heard her say to me as she often would, “ Suck it up buttercup…get over it! What are you going to do to move on”
It comforts me to know she will continue to walk beside me and guide me but just from a different place. I also know it is now my turn to carry the baton and I hope I can be an inspiration to you like she was to me. Launching a blog website so close to the anniversary of her passing feels almost fitting. I feel as if she is watching now and approves of this next big step. Thank you for reading.
Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light.