America’s birthday suit

On Oct. 14, 1939, Ralph Lifshitz was born in the Bronx, N.Y. A lover of beautiful things, he would save his money to buy nice suits even at a young age. He studied business but dropped out shortly before achieving his degree. While working for a tie manufacturer, he decided to try his hand at designing a different type of tie than what was popular at the time. With a $50,000 loan, the Polo Company was born, and Ralph Lauren is now a $900 million empire.

In Pasadena, Calif., two sisters would spend their waking moments dreaming up beautiful dresses. They even put paper on their walls so they could jot down ideas as they came. They taught themselves the art of fashion by deconstructing designer pieces and studying the workmanship. Last year, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte did the costumes for the movie Black Swan, and they are now regulars on the red carpet. At 27, Sara Blakely was a door-to-door saleswoman in Florida trying to figure out how to wear pants without unsightly panty lines. She cut off her pantyhose so she could still wear her sandals and no one would be the wiser. Spanx is valued at $150 million. And, ladies, how many times do you say to yourself, “I could have come up with that idea”?

On the heels of Weinergate, the Casey Anthony trial and our grim economic times, we sometimes forget what is so celebratory about our country. This Fourth of July, embrace life, love and the pursuit of happiness. What a great country we live in that someone can have a dream and make that into a successful career. A place where even if you choose one direction and decide that it’s not your cup of tea, you can reinvent yourself and try something new. Happy birthday, America.

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