In her words, with Frances Harder
I met Frances Harder in 2005, early on in my Los Angeles fashion-media sales career. Icon in the fashion biz, a go-to for young brands, and top industry professionals. That's about all I knew. You know that feeling of when you know someone, but you don't know them at all?
Here's a story for you from France's humble beginnings.
Mic drops: Undiagnosed Dyslexia, Bullying with pins over Pat Boone, and marriage being a big mistake.
In her words, by Frances Harder. How Pat Boone Changed the Course of My Life! – Plus a lesson on how to stop bullies!
In her words, by Frances Harder
How Pat Boone Changed the Course of My Life! – Plus a lesson on how to stop bullies!
As a 14 year old attending an all-girls secondary modern school in northern Manchester meant I had failed my 11 plus. At the age of 11 all kids must take an exam to test if they are smart enough to attend a grammar school, or if not then you are condemned to a secondary modern school! As an undiagnosed dyslexic I was just considered to be a bad speller and therefore not grammar school material.
As a secondary school child, the school mostly prepares these students for a blue-collar job, or the luckier smart ones may transfer into colleges. The brilliant ones who past their eleven plus and then go onto grammar school are then expected to lead and to changing the world! But as my dear mother once commented when I did not pass my eleven plus, “Don’t worry you don’t need an education as you will get married and have kids. So, learn to sew and cook!” Nothing wrong with that but I have always felt you can do both, be a good mother and work, be it only part time.
Well, this is where my life story takes a turn! During this time in the early 60’s my film and music idol was Pat Boone.
I had a small picture of him stuck to my desk in my classroom. Then one day when entering the class room I noted that one of the bigger girls who happened to sit on the front row had taken my picture of Pat Boone and stuck it to her desk.
As I passed her desk, I informed her that photo belongs to me to which she replied, “Oh yes and what are you going to do about it?” She continued to say, “For two pins I would beat your ass!” So, with this threat in mind I gave it some thought overnight, then the next day I walked by her desk and without a word I put two pins on her desk!
So, this meant we were on!
She told me to meet her in the play ground at the next break. This I did, and she being about 5ft 8” with a bigger body frame also invited her little buddy friend to help her fight me, a 5ft 3” light framed person! However, they did not realize I had been taking self-defense classes! So, the fight was on. As many have noted through the years, “Don’t F with F!”
Little did we know that the whole of the teachers’ lounge was also watching from their panoramic window view above the playground. In those days they did not interfere with fights! So, after I had managed to do my best to defend my honor and that of dear Pat Boone, I think I can say I beat the shit out of the bully and her little cohort. As we returned into school after the break and the notorious fight, the teachers where lined up and the first was the sport teacher! She smiled at me and said, “You are going to be the school’s Sports Captain.”
And the following year I was. The art teacher later told me she was going to help get me into art college and this she did! The English teacher said, “You write well but your spelling is really bad, but I want to take you to some Dickens plays,” as she knew I liked Dickens stories.
So, that day my life took a turn that changed for the better and I never looked back without feeling grateful and victorious!
I graduated from the four-year Art College with a degree as a fashion designer with honors. The honors offered me a full scholarship to attend a prestigious college in London, but I was involved with a man that my parents did not approve of who lived in London. So, I was forced to stay north and take the job offer to design for a knit wear company in the north. The owner of the company was my mentor that I had interned with while at college and he then asked me to work full time as designer that would become part of his design room team. Sometime during the first year at that position I was asked to teach one day a week back at the college I graduated from and my boss told me I should do it as it would be good for my career experience and he very kindly released me for the one day a week teaching position.
Well, my London boy friend decided to move north, and we got married! Big mistake! If I had been allowed to move to London the relationship would have been over in six months! Instead I stayed with him for six tumultuous years! (Another story for another day.) He was an aircraft engineer and after a couple of years up north he was offered a job in the south in Bristol Through my London connections I was also offered a part time design job in London and would travel via pullman train from Bristol to London early Monday morning to work as a technical designer for two days a week.
And another day teaching at High Whickham College patternmaking. I then applied for a teaching position to teach art at a secondary school in Bristol. Of all places! This secondary modern teaching art position taught me so much and I made lifelong friends.
So, you fast forward and read my journey of my life I wrote in a blog “From Prestwich to Peru and Kathmandu”, you will note that my journey has been mostly about networking. I have worked hard and been so lucky to have had so many wonderful opportunities to be both an educator and an industry designer/patternmaker/technical designer. I am still doing both, plus now I am invited to be an industry expert speaker at many international industry trade shows and love it all. I have also over the past 15 years served as an industry expert in legal disputes and that has been very interesting and lucrative.
But here is the great part to my story! After 50 years I get an invite to an event in Beverley Hills to meet Pat Boone for the launch of his new book. The event also featured a fashion show and that was why I was invited. Well, can you imagine my joy to be able to tell Pat Boone my own story and how unwittingly he had changed my life forever! He was charming and personable just as I would have expected.
And the moral of the story! Learn self-defense before taking an invitation to fight! 😊 And be sure that the fight is worth fighting for! Don’t let the bully win or intimate you! Really good for your self-esteem and maybe your future! Plus, for me the best invention for my love of writing was “spell check”!
Say Hi to FRANCES here. She has great books, use my discount code LOOKINGGOOD (if it doesn't work, tell her I sent you!) and she is a live, in-person encyclopedia of the business of fashion and no stranger to it's hard knocks!
You're Looking Good, YAYA! … you, as you are.