09/20/2011 12:38 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Tragedy and Triumph Through Design

In the tragic aftermath following the devastation caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Irene, I'm always amazed when the human spirit reveals itself in the form of compassion, creativity and determination. As relief efforts begin to organize in communities and towns affected by such disasters, I always feel an upwelling in myself when I see neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger. After such devastation comes rebirth, and I believe that the human spirit that inspires creativity, art and design is the same spirit that inspires compassion in times of need.

When a tragedy happens, people inherently don't ask for much - they just seek to secure the basics of life. And, it's in our human nature to give, share and help others regain those basic life needs. Whether it's physical recovery or something greater, there's a need to create and rebuild. Whether it's creating a temporary shelter, a mural or sculpture to commemorate the moment, or even a piece of jewelry that serves as a permanent reminder of the triumph of the human spirit.

The latter is where my thoughts have lingered since Irene left her path of death and destruction along the East Coast. Naturally, I want to help, and perhaps the best way for me to help is by continuing to design. I think of all of the women who lost their most precious pieces of jewelry - a special diamond, a family heirloom, or the piece of prized jewelry that was a woman's first gift to herself. Having grown up in Florida, I empathize with those who had to evacuate their homes in such a short period of time and who had to make decisions about what's more important: a family photo or their mother's necklace. The feeling of having lost something so special and valuable leaves a longing. Perhaps it's not as significant as some others, but still, it leaves a void that needs to be filled.

I've already told you before how valuable my pearls are to me, but it's not just their monetary value that makes them cherished. They mean something to me because they represent me. I continue to think about the women who evacuated and who grabbed their pearls...or worse, who didn't have time to grab anything. It's a reminder to me that my designs have the potential to be someone's something that they would grab first; they may become someone's piece of themselves.

As designers and workers in the fashion world, I think we sometimes take for granted what our work means and the positive impact it can have on people. But, in times like these, I'm reminded that our work is meaningful, purposeful and needed. So today, I'll keep designing, and hopefully design a piece that could be someone's next special heirloom. I'll use my creative spirit in compassion, and hopefully, be able to give back to those in need through my designs. And, I'm committed to helping others rebuild by supporting disaster relief efforts. Through the united power of the human spirit, we will continue to inspire, create, design and rebuild.