Last week, an up-and-coming fashion designer named Joey Wölffer opened up a holiday pop-up shop at The Drawing Room, an art and fashion studio co-owned by a Hewitt mother, entrepreneur, and businesswoman and located directly across the street from the front door of Big Hewitt. Joey attended The Hewitt School until her family moved from New York City. Immensely curious about the journey of this former Hewitt girl-now-woman, I crossed the street, climbed the stairs, and opened the door to The Drawing Room.
And what I found there was a sight to behold. There were gossamer-like tunics, textured jackets, leather handbags, sequined vests, hats knit by hand, and accessories. Each piece was unique and seemed an outward expression of the artist’s inner love and joy. The global designs and colors were dazzling in their variety, yet also unified by the artist’s “bohemian chic” vision—stylish, yet unpretentious. So unpretentious, in fact, that she refurbished a 20-foot potato-chip truck and turned it into a mobile fashion store called the Styleliner! As I spun around the room, the words of the 17th century English poet John Donne sprung to mind. Joey, this once-Hewitt-girl, had clearly made “one little room an everywhere.” I was extremely impressed to see the world through the eyes of this Hewitt girl, now woman.
Near the end of my visit to Joey’s holiday pop-up shop, a certain necklace caught my eye. That necklace, which I wear around my neck tonight, features a delightfully messy fringe ribbon and a circular gold medallion with a flaming heart. Originally a Christian symbol, the flaming heart is now widely used as an iconic symbol of the origin of our innermost passion, the “deep heart’s core,” the source of our inner strength, and the seat of unconditional love. On the necklace, encircling the flaming heart, are four words: “The Road We Travel.”
Now, for someone who drives around Manhattan or Boston or Washington DC in her boutique-on-wheels, "The Road We Travel" clearly refers to quite a bit of literal travel. But after doing some research, I was delighted to discover that this motto resonates in a broader and more metaphorical way.
For someone still so young, Joey has had some difficult life experiences. She has experienced great loss. And she has also experienced great love. Recently, she and her husband became parents to a baby girl. She just opened up her first brick-and-mortar store and is expanding her business in truly exciting ways. I cannot wait to see where the road takes Joey next, both personally and professionally.
‘And this, of course, got me to thinking about you, Hewitt girls and young women of today. We—your teachers, mentors, advisors, coaches, family members and loved ones—are gathered here tonight to celebrate you. We are here to guide you, support you, and celebrate you on the road you travel. At Hewitt, just as at other schools, there are certain shared requirements and experiences on the “road we travel” together. Yet, if done well, your Hewitt journey, and your life, will offer many on and off ramps along the way. And those on and off ramps, in the end, make you uniquely you.
So rather than leave you with the oft-quoted advice from Robert Frost to “Take the road less traveled," I leave you with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Do not go where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail.” That's what Joey Wölffer did. And that is what we hope you will do as you venture forth down the road of life.
What I hope for each and every one of you is that Hewitt will encourage you, and inspire you, to search for your own “flaming heart,” your own innermost passion and inner strength, as you venture forth into the world. Know that this will be different for each of you. And know that we at Hewitt will be cheering you on no matter how far away the road takes you from our front door. We will be here when you return. Happy holidays and enjoy wherever the road takes you this season.
Dr. Kinsey delivered these remarks at Hewitt's 2015 winter concerts.