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Meet Diana Hrabowecki of The Red Coat Writer in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Hrabowecki.

Diana, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in a farmhouse on two acres of land directly under the flight path of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. My mom worked as a clerk in the building department at city hall and wrote poetry and political satire at night. My dad drove a truck. He became a naturalized citizen, having immigrated from a village in the Carpathian Mountains where his family lived and died on the black earth “sown with bones and watered with blood” in the catastrophe that had befallen Europe between Stalin and Hitler. Trying to make sense of that history, I pursued degrees in Russian and political philosophy at Michigan State University, studied Russian language and literature in the former Soviet Union and received my MFA from UCLA Film School.

I now work in the entertainment industry and, in my spare time, sell poster art on Etsy and write blog posts under the name The Red Coat Writer. I am working on my first novel, The Red Coat: An Illustrated Fairytale for Women, and recently started my own company The Red Coat Writer, LLC to launch my Papillon Wrap™.

I made Papillon Wrap out of sheer necessity. I was cold all day in the air-conditioned corporate tower where I work and the fashion offerings for keeping warm – those silly shrugs and suit jackets that make a woman look like a block of wood – just wouldn’t do. So, I sewed my own! I made a wrap that was durable, lightweight and warm, yet still very sheer and feminine, one that I could wear around the office, stow in my purse while running errands at lunch and throw over my shoulders on the evening’s adventure.

Every time I wore my chiffon wrap to work, I got compliments. As I was showing one of my colleagues all the different ways you can wear it – as a kimono, a scarf. a sarong, a dress – I got the idea that I should make them for other women. It wasn’t until my live-in boyfriend left me that I had impetus to finally do it. I needed the money! My women’s business group and co-workers encouraged me to take the leap and start my own business.

I find that wherever I go, my story opens doors because people are inspired when they see someone overcome adversity through positive action.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Dealing with the grief and loneliness of my failed long-term relationship. The financial stress and shame at having been left. Strangely, it was fear and anger over my situation that propelled me to start my business. When you are in a relationship, even an unhappy one, you’re in a comfort zone, and there’s at least an illusion of security. Life is not safe, though, and every once in a while, you get sick or someone leaves you or someone dies and you see with fresh eyes the way things are. On the edge of experience, you feel real fear. At first, I blamed my ex for everything that was happening to me. When I lost my car keys or when I couldn’t get the TV to work or when I locked myself out of the house. I didn’t want to be in pain. That was an error on my part. They go together, happiness and sadness, but ironically it was pain that thrust me back into life.

You don’t always get what you want, but you always have choices. Each moment you are participating in a creation. That creation is your life. I chose* to deal with my situation by taking actions that would help me (*when I wasn’t sobbing into bath towels). I kept myself busy and prayed for relief. Friends who had been through something similar, gave me Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart. That gift changed me forever.

The most important thing I learned from Pema was to stop blaming and be “friendly” toward myself. “You are all screwed up,” I would say to myself, but in a friendly sort of way that made me smile. Pema says “When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be friendlier too.” Every day I resist the urge for distraction. I’m not saying I’ll never be in another relationship, but for now, I am learning to be okay with just me.

St. Augustine said that God gave us memory so that we might find the light inside us through the act of remembering. I am working on remembering who I am.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Red Coat Writer – what should we know?
A clairvoyant once told me that when I see a butterfly it’s my mom dropping in from the other side to say, “Hi.” It occurs to me that Papillon Wrap™ was a gift from her, and in turn I am to give it to others. When a woman tries it on it makes her feel beautiful. I don’t know why or how. Perhaps its magic is that, like the wings of a butterfly, it lets the light come through. A woman is naturally beautiful and when she discovers her own beauty that beauty shines through, in her smile, in her gentle self-loving, in her kindness toward others. The Red Coat Writer’s Papillon Wrap is a symbol for something deeper. Something inside. And it is also protection.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My colleagues Lisa Farsadi (featured on my website wearing wraps from the first edition of 35) and Jeremy Cole (who photographed her) generously gave their time and talent during our lunch break photo shoots. My co-worker Cynthia Burstein Waldman was my first paying customer and Miche Donjaqour came up with the name, Papillon Wrap, saying that what I had created was more than just a scarf. Cynthia Wylie, Marianne Kopie Liggett, Jan Comeau and Jennifer White Kuri of my women’s business group First Friday Masterminds gave me direction and support.

The women who buy my Papillon Wrap and give it as gifts to others have given me wings. One woman wrote to me “I’m completely smitten- I’ve been wearing it already non-stop!” and another texted that hers had made it all the way to Bollywood.

Michelle Roy hosted The Red Coat Writer launch and Papillon Wrap Trunk show at her chic little urban boutique at 8222 W 3rd St in Los Angeles and carries some in her shop. Monique Torres designed my website TheRedCoatWriter.com.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Jeremy Cole

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

3 Comments

  1. Cynthia Wylie

    March 28, 2018 at 05:33

    Fantastic Diana. Your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable in your story is so inspiring. Your writing is wonderful too. I can’t wait until your novel comes out.

  2. Linda Giella

    April 9, 2018 at 03:30

    This is wonderful – the story, the honesty, and the inspiring words that you are passing on here. Everyone can learn something from your journey. CONGRATULATIONS for taking on the challenge and sharing your wisdom…

  3. Diana

    April 10, 2018 at 22:51

    Thank you for your kind words, Cynthia! I hope to make a difference sharing what I’ve learned!

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