I have had many people express interest in my background, where I learned to work with leather and why I choose this career. So here is a more complete story...
I was born in Hawaii and grew up in Southern California's beach town of Dana Point. I was raised in a military home where most of my family members have served in some governmental sector (e.g. police, military, civil service, etc). I have always loved fashion, shoes and clothes. And as an adult, my fashion obsession may or may not have affected relationships. However when choosing a career path I chose the road more traveled rather than less. I received my Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Justice Studies with a Masters degree in Public Administration then worked for the federal government. Specifically, I worked as a civil servant at Social Security Administration for nearly a decade. I held the roles of operational supervisor, technical expert and social insurance specialist mostly in California's Bay Area. Prior to that I worked as a paralegal and judicial intern. Working as a civil servant offered me stability, security and a purpose. And, although the job was very meaningful and rewarding, I always felt a creative void.
By 2012 my boyfriend (now husband) became very ill and we decided after he got well that we wouldn't take happiness nor life for granted. We became less concerned about stability and more concerned about enjoying life and finding our passions. My husband and I moved to Cambridge Massachusetts in 2013 to pursue a job opportunity. While I was in Boston I began searching for what inspired me and what I really enjoyed. I have always enjoyed being creative and working with my hands but being away from my family and friends allowed me more time to pursue my interests aggressively.
While living in Boston, I decided to use my vacation time away from work to explore shoe making classes. I loved the idea of taking organic materials and turning those materials into wearable, beautiful art. I made my first pair of shoes with English former John Lobb shoemaker duo, James Ducker and Deborah Carre, better known as Carreducker and became hooked on the creative process of making. From there, I took a stitch-down shoe making course with Hungarian shoemaker Marcell Mrsan. My husband and I then moved back to California's Bay Area in 2014 to pursue another job opportunity. Around the same time, Marcell offered me an apprenticeship to work for him for year (if your asking why a master shoemaker offered me an apprenticeship, you can read more on that at his blog). After speaking with my husband, putting together a business proposal and saving for a year, I quit my civil servant job and moved back east to pursue the apprenticeship. I worked for Marcell for a year helping set up his workshop in Savannah Georgia while learning (and making) all aspects of made to measure and bespoke shoes for his clients, as well as, assisting in teaching his students. Afterwards, I moved back home to California and began a year long program with Beatrice Amblard, a French former Hermes artisan, in bag making and leather accessories. I completed the program and, then, was offered a job to apprentice for her company April in Paris. I worked with her for a little over a year and half then studied Western boot making from DW Frommer II. From there I studied in Holland for a month learning repair work and sneaker making. Afterwards, I spent a month in Belgium with several leather artisans learning fine leather skills such as box making, leather weaving and additional Delvaux specific handbag techniques. Next, I spent several weeks in Sweden with Janne Melkersson learning equestrian boots. After spending several years learning from all these masters, I took some personal time to hone my skill and find my voice within the maker community prior to establishing my label EM Parker.