My sister, Josie Jansen was widowed on November 7th, 2005 – almost 5 years to the day of her graduation from Fanshawe on November 5, 2010. Before her Fashion Design program at Fanshawe, Josie was the constant care giver for her husband during his 4 year battle with cancer.
Pete’s passing resulted in Josie stepping into the shoes as president of her husband’s business even though she had not been involved in running the business beforehand. Despite mourning the passing of her husband of 33 years, Josie somehow found the strength to do what needed to be done to wind up the business and ultimately sell her home of 35 years.
On the heels of finding, buying and downsizing to a new home Josie dug even deeper to muster the courage and energy to move toward a life-long dream – she applied and was accepted into Fanshawe College’s Fashion Design Program at the age of 59.
During her 3 years in the program she also was blessed with 4 more grandchildren whom she made a point of seeing regularly … all this while maintaining an A average (she missed graduating with honours by .04!) and used her teaching and parenting skills (she was a primary school teacher before having her own family) to keep projects with her ‘20 something’ classmates on the rails!
This past April the Fashion Design graduating class put on its “Unbound” fashion show at Museum London. This “final project” involves designing the collection, selecting and buying the suitable fabrics, making each pattern and then sewing each garment – all to aggressive deadlines, as well as producing the show as a class! Based on the volume of the applause, Josie’s collection of 5 beautifully designed, stunningly detailed and fastidiously constructed coats / Outer Wear for Special Occasions was the crowd’s favourite – and she did it all! In fact one of the judges, who works for Elle Magazine, mentioned Josie Jansen in her blog the next day as a designer to keep your eyes on!
November 5th, 2010 was Josie’s graduation from a highly regarded Fashion Design program. She is the record holder as the oldest mature student to graduate. Other mature students dropped out because they couldn’t keep up with the pace and demanding schedule … and Josie did all that while sometimes being able to find time to travel over 2 hours to see her daughter’s family and making sure that her son’s children saw her often enough to remember her too.
November 5th also marked the launch of Josie Jansen into the world of entrepreneurship – running a home based custom design / couturier business – Josie Jansen Fashion Design. Her work is so highly regarded that she was one of only four Fashion Design graduates invited to show their collections in London’s 4th annual WAYS fashion show held at the London Convention Centre November 15, 2010.
“Don’t grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be”, taken from the book “Tid Bits of Advice from Mother to Daughter”, sums up my sister, Josie Jansen of Josie Jansen Fashion Design.