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  • Kianna Leaa

My Best Calculated Accident

The best things in life happen when you least expect it...

Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy
Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy

For as long as I could remember I've always wanted to leave Montreal (the city I grew up in). I believed that if I was born with wings, I was meant to fly. And in my mind, that meant starting my journey by moving to New York.

The Big Apple attracted me the most for its' constant energy, entertainment, international people and eclectic culture and most of all for being one of the fashion capitals of the world. Given my strong desire to grow and work in the fashion industry, naturally, it seemed like the perfect p lplo place for me. But there was only one problem. I was Canadian and didn't have a visa to work in the US.

Being the stubborn and determined Aries woman that I am, I wasn't about to let a visa problem stop me from working and living abroad. I just had to figure out how I was going to achieve this.

Upon graduating McGill in business in 2018, I landed a job at Michael Kors in buying for footwear and accessories. I absolutely loved my job. Everything except for the fact that it was in Montreal. So a couple of months into the job, I explored the opportunities to transfer within the company from Montreal to NYC. Despite exploring different avenues to achieve this, I was unsuccessful.

With strong passion and determination, I explored alternative avenues to reach my goal. I applied to a ton of jobs in New York. Through this process, as soon as I divulged to the interviewer that I was Canadian, I was immediately eliminated as a potential candidate for the role. This frustrated me tremendously. No matter how much I tried, I always seemed to hit a wall. This made me question whether or not it was the right time in my life to pursue moving to NYC.

I began thinking about putting my NYC dream on hold while I further developed my knowledge and career as a stepping stone to getting to NYC. Which city would allow me to achieve this growth?

I explored London and Paris. Those cities seemed like the most plausible options that would allow me to avoid any extensive visa application due to The Free Trade Agreement. Day and night, I worked on my job applications. Amidst all the disappointment and hurdles I'd confronted, I landed an interview for my dream job in London. I finally felt as though I had an opportunity that I was truly passionate about at the tip of my fingers. After three extensive rounds of interviews, I received the news that the company would go for another candidate with more experience. I was devastated...

What now? It felt as though every goal I was working towards wasn't achievable. Despite the constant disappointment, something deep down in me gave me the strength to want to fight harder. In my heart, I just couldn't accept not being able to land a work opportunity abroad. There had to be a way. And something in my heart made me feel as though I was destined for something great. I just needed to find it.

Given the circumstance I was in, the next best option seemed to be moving to Toronto, neighbouring city to Montreal. Even though it wasn't my ideal pick as a city, it was the next best option and what issues could I possibly run into moving to Toronto as a native Canadian?

After much thought and deliberation, I handed my resignation letter to HR at MK and began preparing for my move to Toronto which was set for January 2019 (in less than 2 months). For those of you who aren't knowledgeable with the Toronto housing market, looking for an apartment in Toronto can be a horrendous experience. Just when I thought things would run smoothly with my move, looking for apartments seemed impossible. The experience in itself was draining, frustrating and discouraged me tremendously. These feelings made me realize that my heart wasn't really set on moving to Toronto. Something didn't feel right... So I decided to take a break from anything related to my Toronto move and prayed that this would give me some sort of clarity.

Streets of Florence, Italy
Streets of Florence, Italy

Beginning of December 2018, 2 weeks after I left my job at MK, I went to my favorite coffee shop near my home and began reading fashion articles on Vogue, Coveteur and BOF. I finally felt inspired and excited. I landed on an article on BOF about some of the best fashion institutes in the world. That's when I landed on Polimoda University in Florence, Italy which offers Undergraduate, Master and Seasonal courses in Fashion. For the sake of my entertainment, I looked for their online application to their Master's program. I filled it out and clicked SEND. A rush of adrenaline fluttered my body.

A couple of days later, I received news that I was accepted to Polimoda in their Master's in Luxury Business. I was shocked and intrigued. I shared the news with my mother who answered, "Would it interest you to go? Perhaps you should explore this opportunity." I don't know if I was more shocked at her reaction or the fact that I got in. I then told my father about it, who was not thrilled.

I began to ponder the idea of attending Polimoda and if going there would in fact cater to my personal and professional goals.

  1. Polimoda was situated in Florence, Italy. That meant I would have the chance to immerse myself in my favorite culture and country.

  2. I would be situated in Florence - the epitome of Italian luxury fashion from the production side.

  3. My program would be a partnership between Polimoda x Richemont, giving me the occasion to establish a strong network and hand on experience throughout my studies.

  4. I would have the chance to further my knowledge in an industry I was always passionate about (when I always dreamed of studying fashion in one way or another) with professors who have experience and work directly with the most notable luxury fashion brands.

  5. What more could I ask for?

Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy
Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy

The thought of attending Polimoda seemed way more exciting and unique than moving to Toronto. I felt as though I would indulge my experience in Italy in a way that would be difficult to mimic in a neighboring city. In my heart and in my bones, I felt that I needed to take this chance on myself. Regardless of how difficult it would be to convince my parents to get on board and for me to find the means to make this work in such a short amount of time, I had to do it. This was my chance. Go big or go home.

January, February and March 2019 was dedicated to planning my move to Florence and living frugally to save as much money as I could, before embarking on this journey of a lifetime.

"Sometimes you gotta knock on 100 doors

before 1 window opens."

March 2019, with 4 luggages and 2 huge duffle bags later, I flew to Italy with my family for what would be an experience of a lifetime and haven't looked back since. I never in a million years thought I would end up attending university in Florence, let alone be living in Italy.

My move to Italy was the best calculated accident. The opportunity came to me in the most unexpected way. By knocking on 100 doors a small window of opportunity opened up. Despite having many hurdles along the way, constant uncertainty and having to modify the steps (several times) to achieving my ultimate goal, when the opportunity to study in Italy came up, it made complete sense to me. It was such a right decision for me that for the very first time in this process, everything in my body, mind and soul believed and felt that I was meant to embark on this journey.

Even if I didn't manage to move to New York, Italy seemed to be the perfect stepping stone. New York would just have to wait...

If ever you are in a situation where you want to make a change in your life and you aren't sure how or you keep failing at making this change, DON'T GIVE UP! Stay focused, surround yourself with people who inspire you, evaluate your options and keep knocking on doors until you find that one opportunity that will change your life. And when this opportunity comes your way, GRAB IT, SAVOUR IT & RELISH IT!

You will never know what you are capable of unless you put yourself out there...

If this story reminds you of a moment in your life, feel free to hit me up on Instagram or shoot me an email! I always love hearing personal stories from you guys:)

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, duomo
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy
Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy


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