FBI Wise Words

From My London Network Opening up the Golden Gate – To California Dreaming!

By Frances Harder, May 31, 2016

After our six months of hippy life style and marrying while traveling for in the Far East we flew to New York to begin another exciting chapter. Fortunately my husband had a Green Card from his time working in Seattle at Boeing. The plan was to drive across America to the west coast where most of the aircraft manufacturing was taking place.  We then purchased a used Ventura, (the same model and color blue as in the film Ace Ventura) and so began our adventure driving through the States.  The driving was easy, relaxing with amazing, spectacular vistas. The enormity and the vastness of the country was truly inspiring. The BIG Country!   It was interesting for me to note, coming from old England and Europe with all the ancient towns, that in the US each Main Street looked more or less the same with the same stores, hotels and fast food chains. We loved most of this experience with just a few scary spots in the middle of the southern states where they seemed to make it obvious that they were not overly keen on strangers and then the dry states were inconvenient! But once we arrived in California I really felt that this would be my new home.

My husband was offered a stress engineering job at Northrop that allowed us to purchase our first 3 bedroom home in Torrance with a nice view. We then adopted our first dog Gabi, a beautiful hyperactive collie mix, a grateful rescue from our local pound.  Now it was time to contact my only lead  in the LA fashion industry from my friend in London, Alwyn who had met Lonnie Kane on her trip to the US  a couple of years earlier. When I met Lonnie he struck me very much as a Dustin Hoffman type and very California hip!  Lonnie was working on a new denim line from a house in the Valley and he asked if I would be interested in working with them to design and pattern making. It was a part time job and I was glad about that as it was miles for me to drive from the south side of LA to the valley.  But it was a fun job and we had some success in an event called “Battle of the Denim” that we won!  After six months I needed to be home for eminent arrival of our new baby boy, Hans Robert Harder.

After a few months enjoying our new family lives in sunny California, Lonnie called and asked if I would be interested in a new part time position designing and pattern making for a fast growing company that he was now working for as production manager.  The company was called “Colors” but unfortunately for me it was in the City of Industry was in East L.A. and another long haul to drive. But I was fortunate to be introduced to great part time nanny who would take care of our little Hans two days a week. But drive became too time consuming and I was about ready to quit when the next door opened when a newly graduated designer started work with me. Karen was her name and she would later start a new business with Lonnie and so was born their very successful label “Karen Kane”! Karen told me that she thought that FIDM may be looking for new instructors for their fast growing new fashion college in downtown LA and introduced me to Mary Stephens the head of the fashion department.  As I was pregnant with our second baby Erika I really did not want to do too much driving. However, Mary asked me to teach one day a week which consisted of a couple of classes and I managed to not give birth in the class room!  But I was a big momma and I think many thought I would pop Erika out during my classes!

I enjoyed my teaching experience at FIDM and was impressed with their leadership, faculty and programs.  But after four years of sun, beach, freeways and a life style that we all enjoyed, a new position for my husband presented its self. And with it another life changing experience presented itself to my husband and our new family when the GREAT North West and Washington State called! Stay tuned to part 4 of my life’s networking journey!

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