Leslie Gorman Karlovec
As I reflect on the one year anniversary of the launch of bumbrella by CiCi Soleil, I do so with gratitude. I am often asked, “Who is CiCi Soleil?” CiCi is my carefree, adventurous, risk-taking side, a part of me I had never fully appreciated. Soleil is French for sun, our source of sustenance, light and life. Fortuitously, these two elements collided and ignited a path-changing idea. I had always been decidedly disciplined and at times felt burdened by my practical, logical and serious nature. At the time, I was recommitting myself to the medical profession after a lengthy hiatus as a stay-at-home mom. CiCi became this refreshing facet of my soul, re-energizing my life with imagination, hope and new beginnings.
This revelation occurred on a most unexpected day, to say the least. While attending a funeral, I realized my black dress was completely transparent in the sunlight. Standing there in my sheer dress, feeling mortified and naked, an idea struck me like a lightening bolt. I should have been wearing just a little something for coverage but not so much that it felt bulky and uncomfortable. I never wore shaping slips because they were cumbersome, hot and constricting. God knows, I wouldn't be caught dead in an outdated, frumpy "granny" slip. Essentially, what I needed and wanted didn't exist. In this most unusual circumstance, I had just the solution! I would design a modern, easy-to-wear, healthier undergarment to address this common, embarrassing wardrobe problem, and so my 2-in-1 pantyslip came to be. I laugh when I remember this comically outlandish moment because it seemed so bizarre in its time and place, but I guess you can't help when a lightbulb turns on.
I once read a description of yin and yang as the “sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley." Yin is the dark, overcast side of the mountain, while yang is the bright face illuminated by the sun. As the sun travels across the sky, yin and yang gradually exchange places with one another, unveiling what was obscured and concealing what was revealed. It's interesting, this notion of concealment and revelation. I think we all have treasures undiscovered within us, just waiting to be acknowledged. My "yang" was ironically revealed in that moment of mortifying overexposure.
I'm a true believer in the "things happen for a reason" concept, and it's fascinating how the universe guides us with signs, people and circumstances. On that day of loss and sorrow, something hopeful and new was born- the realization I can and should take a chance and change course, a sort of personal reinvention. As I witnessed a rare, resplendent rainbow encircling the sun that afternoon, I recognized it as a sign. To honor the untimely passing of Leslie Gorman Karlovec, an extraordinary woman with a courageous, fighting spirit, I would believe in myself and take a leap of faith. I would veer off my well-traveled road and venture into the unknown entrepreneurial world.
Ideas flow from necessity and experience but require that magical spark to come alive. I don't know what it was that day, but forces converged, and I followed a different path. Naming my business CiCi Soleil honors this radiant, inventive spirit, clearly illuminated on that sunny day. I think we all aspire to imagine and create so we can feel a sense of adventure and abundance in our lives. Through this endeavor, I have challenged and propelled myself up a steep learning curve, which most days feels like a mountain. I have celebrated exhilarating highs on the summit and trudged through humbling lows in the valley. I will continue to forge ahead with fierce determination and unwavering perseverance. As I wish CiCi a happy first birthday, I hope her little light continues to twinkle and shine and maybe even inspire others for many years to come. Happy birthday, CiCi...make a wish!