Design by Rula Clint
After graduating from Damascus university with a bachelor degree in Statistics, I went to NY to pursue a Masters degree. I started the summer term and was getting ready for the Fall term when I paid a visit to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and it was the beginning AND the end. The beginning of my love story with fabrics, fashion and creativity and the end of my career in statistic.
I loved the idea of working with textiles and decided that this is what I wanted to do and traded my Masters Course for one in Pattern Making Technology. For training I took a job as a sample cutter assistant at Ruth Norman, NY, a fashion company for lounge wear. It was an entry level position which was typically covered by student who needed to get started, but I was elated 2 weeks later to be promoted as Ruth's designer assistant.
Great experience, but all must come to an end and time arrived for me to return home. I went back to Syria and found employment as design room manager at Seif Brothers, one of the largest clothing companies in the country. It was not long before I decided to start my own business in high fashion, or Haut Couture, with five people working for me.
The business was good to go and I was seeking investors to establish a fashion house when I met my husband to be, then a British expat working in Damascus. It was a tough decision that of leaving my beloved city of Damascus (one of the oldest cities in the world), my job, my professional dreams, to start a life as a trailing spouse.
But love is blind and I followed it blindfolded, never regretting the choice (well, nearly never).
A few months later we were married, I had given up my career, left my Damascus and started the Expat Wife life....destination Jodhpur, India. What a country and what a city. Loved it!!
There I found myself in a big house with house staff and nothing for me to do. For the first time in my life I wasn't studying nor working. I HAD to find something to do, so browsing around and exploring I came up with an idea. In my meandering I found a shop producing beads embroidery for gorgeous wedding skirts and scarves.
I did some alterations to the design and had them create for me table clothes which I exported to Syria where they were a great success. To this day, 19 years later, whenever I go to Syria, people still ask me about the tablecloths.
After India we were in London for few months, in between assignments. I went happily back to work as a pattern maker and coordinator in a clothing company just off Oxford street. It was not to last very long before the next move came about, this time it was Muscat, Oman.
In Muscat I contacted an American/ Hong Kong based clothing company and was hired as project manager esponsible for production in Oman and Cairo. A very stressful job. I had to work around the opening time in LA, HK and Oman. When I got pregnant with my first child, I knew I couldn't do such a stressful job and be able at the same time to take care of the baby and decided, at 34 years old of age to embark in another dangerous mission: to be a full time mother.
The next two years in Muscat I was not working and so enrolled in a French group where I attended their art and craft classes.
Through the expat community I discovered an expats amateur theatre in the PDO club and I was asked to help in making the costumes. It was my first brush with the world of costumes and theatre and I felt an irresistible thug. I enjoyed it so much that it resulted in a career change which came handy later on.
Few months later we moved to Paris and after the initial settling down time spent finding a school for my son and taking a language course, I found a school for theatrical costume in Paris. It was so enjoyable and interesting that I also took extra courses in cinema and TV.
Two years later and we are on the move again, this time is Houston, Texas. While all this was happening, 6 weeks into the move I also gave birth to my daughter, by now I am 38 yrs old and back to nappies.
It didn't deter me and while in Houston, through a friend who worked in the theatre, I made an appointment with the manager at Main Street Theater.
My objective was to get more experience under my belt so I asked to assist their designer in the creation of costumes.
Instead, after looking at my portfolio, the manager offered me the job to produce the costumes for their next play, a modern time adaptation of Romeo and Juliet . I was reluctant given the little experience I had, but the manager would not take no for an answer and said that both her and the director were 100% behind me.
Romeo and Juliet was my first production and was followed by a few more. It was too good to be true and I had to leave my dream job to move again, to Paris AGAIN.
Now my son is entering school and for us the British curriculum was a necessity, so, given that there is only one school offering it in the parisian area, we had to live in the suburbs.
So here is the scenario, a travelling husband, my son in a school, my daughter in a french nursery and we all leave in the outskirts of Paris.
Getting a job and commuting to Paris was out of the question so this time round I kept busy volunteering at the British school creating the costumes for their various productions, beside developing a technique to obtain from a 2D image an embossed 3D object, which I learn how to frame after taking a class on the subject class and end up selling many over few years.
We lived in Paris for seven years, but after the first three which were quite and assured the remaining four were a nervous gambling story. Every year a possible move was on the table, which put a stop to really finding a job or doing anything serious.
This was the time I challenged myself and enrolled in a piano class! It was a big challenge, finding the 2-3 hours a day to practice was hard.
We moved, eventually and we are now back to Houston. A very easy move and an easy life. The school bus picks up and drops off the children closer home and I have the whole day to do what I want.
Of course the theatre was my first idea, but with my lifestyle is still out of boundary for me. The theatre involves going to rehearsal and meetings in the evening. Impossible for me, with a husband that is on-the-road three weeks out of a month, with the academic challenges my son and my daughter have to face.
Yet, I cannot spend my days without a project, so I had to come up with something before the shadow of depression crawl near. With the encouragement of some old friends, I started a home-run business of tailoring and costume design/creation. I collected as many photos I could of my old projects and creations. Not easy to travel back in time and space to collect the mementos of your hard work. So with the material I manage to collect I created a Facebook account: Rula Clint (this link works if you are already connected to Facebook, otherwise search for Rula Clint)
A suggestion to any current and future budding entrepreneur, who, like me, is constantly relocating: keep records of your work, be it photos, articles, a list where you write what and when you did with who etc. You will not regret keeping a tab on how you devoted your time and skills.
Since then I have been busy, from producing Greek costumes for school, to creating evening dresses, from alterations and adjustment to prom and gala dresses to soft furnishing.
Next year I plan to get more and more involved in producing costumes for schools and any help and support from the Houston expatriate community is greatly appreciated.