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The three lessons I’ve learned from planning a fashion show that are applicable to life

Our Motivation | April 29, 2022

Kendra Gottsleben is a rare disease advocate living with MPS VI and is the founder of the non-profit Rare by Design.

The countdown is on to the fashion show! With less than a month to go, most of my free time has been dedicated to finalizing logistics like the models, lighting, scripts, promotion, and volunteers. While it can be stressful at times, I always try to ground myself in my goal – that people living with a disability, or a rare disease, should be able to experience an unforgettable, top-notch event just like everyone else. I’ve made every decision about my vendors and location with this in mind and I’ve pushed myself to raise a significant amount of money so that the event is everything I dreamed it to be. There are three lessons that I’ve learned along the way that I think are applicable to any life situation, so I wanted to pass them along to all of you:

LESSON 1: Don’t be afraid to ask

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreaded asking people for help – whether it be their time or money. But considering my lofty fundraising goals and the endless logistics for my 200+ person event, I knew I had to tackle my fear once and for all. And I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. People want to help. You just have to ask!

Through connections and countless conversations, I’ve met my fundraising goals, and I’m endlessly grateful for my team of 15 volunteers who are dedicated to making the fashion show a smashing success. My team has been by my side helping me with everything from securing vendors and models to decorating a mall storefront to promote the event. I simply couldn’t do it without them. No matter what the situation, I encourage you to ask for support from your friends, family, colleagues, or community. You don’t have anything to lose!

LESSON 2: Lead by example and find your support network

To me, a leader is someone who seeks to make a difference and models that in everything that they do. I strive to lead by example at work, at Rare by Design and as a rare disease advocate. I want to help others realize their full potential and provide them with opportunities to succeed. I’ve learned these attributes of a leader from some of my role models, such as my mom, Mindy Scheier (Runway of Dreams), fellow advocate Jolene Loetscher, and countless others.

My inspiring role models are also the backbone of my support system. I’m blessed to be able to surround myself with so many incredible individuals that have inspired me in ways that I never thought possible. When you’re going through a challenge, or celebrating an accomplishment, lean on your support system – we’re all in this together!

LESSON 3: Never say “can’t” and take a deep breath

My mom always told me never say “can’t” because you can always try. Life can be challenging, but that’s okay, you just have to keep pushing forward! I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a least a few times when I felt overwhelmed planning the fashion show, particularly while working a full-time job. Every time I find my mind filling with negative thoughts or my stress rising, I take a deep breath. I know everything will get done in due course and that’s why I have my amazing partners, volunteers, and tribe. No matter what the task in front of you, take a deep breath, plan your next move, and attack that challenge!

I can’t wait to share a recap and pictures from the fashion show in my next and final blog post. To learn more, or purchase tickets, you can visit my event page.

Thank you for all your support!