My father, a successful homebuilder, was among the first men to witness the harsh realities of Eastern European orphanages right after the Iron Curtain fell. He came home with photographs that rocked my 12 year old mind and heart. Sitting on our brown leather couch back in my beloved 5,000 sq ft home in the hills, I vowed I would become as successful as my entrepreneurial parents and adopt children.
I didn’t realize then that it was not with international orphans that my future lay, but with children hopeless, hurting desperately, entirely on their own, here in my great city of Los Angeles. After dropping out of high school and an abandoned career in songwriting and performing would I finally begin to see what shape this vision would take.
After becoming pregnant with my son, Exodus, I halted plans of touring my first album and soon after followed my husband in his pursuit of higher education. When my little boy came into the world, my heart simultaneously rejoiced for the gift that is children and broke ever more for the ones that lack the gift of parents. Three years later, we found ourselves disillusioned by the emotional and physical drought that is law school and decided if we put our personal lives on hold any longer, we would wither away. It was time to realize my childhood dream of adoption. But quickly, the disillusionment set in again. We were looking at international adoption--the wrong place for us. We soon realized that it was in our own backyard, through the fostering system, that we would bring a second precious child into our home.
Our Zephyra, born addicted to heroin and coke, amongst other cocktails, rocked our world.
Watching her go from the grave to the cradle, home for me took on a whole new meaning. Home was more than a haven for her--it was a literal lifeline. Only here could she find someone to nurse her every time she cried, only here could she find someone to hold her through the nights of withdrawals in peace and quiet, void of yelling, sirens and drug busts. Only here could she find the nurturing she never knew to become who she was created to be.
Ironically, during those months is when I would wake up in the middle of the night with some crazy designs and concepts for home décor. I would sketch them down, then refine them day after day, ordering fabrics and test printing fabrics to make prototypes...stumbling through phone calls with manufacturers, copyright attorneys, successful businessmen and women, sounding just like the complete novice I was. I had never gone to design school, let alone graduated high school!
Five years later trying to hash out my designs and without the capital to produce such high end product, I found myself drained again.
Then, a new friend came along...and introduced us to her husband, a successful, innovative entrepreneur who she volunteered to mentor us. Two days later, we sat across from this husband and wife team over dinner, and realized we had been looking in the wrong place again. Exhausted from trying to make a brand so strong that even if copied from the big players with factories in China, we’d still survive, I had come to such disillusionment, I was ready to quit. And this time, for real. Until our new mentor said the wise words, “Make High Ruin about helping hopeless kids in LA--and just sell product because you have to.” In other words, make this brand--that I love, yet isn't what I get up for in the morning--the excuse. Make it secondary. Make it work for me. Or rather, the kids I want to help.
Since that night, High Ruin is no longer just a lifestyle brand...It’s a lifeline. For the thousands of children in Los Angeles who need it.