From the Beginning

My name is Diane Garoni, and I am your Blue Fish Finder. Back in early 1997, my father thoughtfully gifted me my very first piece of Blue Fish clothing. It was from a fancy little boutique just outside of the Washington Metro area. I often frequented their shop, browsing through their racks of Fish, as if I was a customer who just may make a purchase!

My father always wanted his daughters to be happy. When daddy suggested we go to one of my favorite shops for something new, I was ready!  "Well, you see daddy, there is this one awesome little shop, but it is so expensive, we probably shouldn't." Fathers always seem to know what their daughters are really saying. Luckily, my daddy was extra skilled, but I kept my fingers crossed, you know.

Finally, I got to try on some of the Blue Fish pieces I had been googling over for years. On the very first piece, not even five minutes in the dressing room, I felt absolutely gleaming in my first Fish and loved how it felt and draped. "The Pocket Purse Overall," in Wheat from the Summer Collection of 1997 and it was finally mine! Let me tell you, I was absolutely, swimming in this piece of Blue Fish. I remember dad saying, "Diane, don't you think it is too big for you?" I said, "No daddy, don't be silly, this is how it is supposed to fit, big, roomy and comfy, see just look at this little detachable pocket purse!" 

I can still remember now, just how special that feeling was, when someone you admire gives back to you in a way that is completely selfless. I was so touched by his gift; I would have never been able to pay for such an item. I felt so special, like a single shining star, like someone's favorite, like the only person in the world who could possibly have a father as great as mine. I held my new Fish, as we left the shop, fantasizing where and when I could wear it, besides right when I got home!

I often wished for more pieces of course, but remained content with my single treasured piece. Somehow, this one piece of clothing represented more than just an overall. It carried that special sense of being a lucky girl. I wore that Pocket Purse Overall like it gave me power, a sense of spirit and confidence, a consistent remembrance of something shared between my dad and I, something that was special and genuine and as comforting as love. How could just one piece of clothing represent all this anyway?

During a creative search to locate Blue Fish clothing on sale to add to my collection of just one, I discovered a small market on eBay and started to acquire a few more pieces. I took a risk every time I bought, as I was clueless about the sizing and fabrics and had no idea from whom I was buying. Well, things got a little crazy over time, and I was completely absorbed with this line of clothing. I decided I needed to be supporting my little new found habit. I had not a single piece of Blue Fish to sell, but I could work for my own Fish, by assisting others who wanted to, "Fine tune," their collections. I listed their pieces and made a percentage of the sale just to continue purchasing for myself! As a result, a small consignment business was born, right there on eBay! 

My eBay selling and buying went on for many years. My handle was Digitdiane, and I had a lot of gals who wished to refine their collections. The girls and I split the costs of selling and the profits. I met many wonderful and knowledgeable gals, who today, I continue to refer to as professional teachers and collectors. As I started to purchase Fish with my proceeds, my collection started to require refinements too! This was a super fun cycle which rotated for years and years. We all took turns hosting reunions and planning day trips. Fisher gals would travel to the designated location and then we all traded and bought each other’s pieces. We blogged and emailed pictures of ourselves in our new looks and combination, we bought for each other as friends, and sometimes handmade little trinkets from recycled Blue Fish materials. We even shared and loaned each other pieces for special occasions. It was a real sisterhood which still continues today.

My local Blue Fish friends would come over to visit, what had npw turned into a small shop housed on the lower level of our home. We would play dress ups, chat about different ways to wear fish and reminisce about our Blue Fish histories for hours. It was during one of these dress up events, that I actually realized what Blue Fish meant for a body more curvy then my own. I thought my Fish was magical on me, but on the correctly sized woman, it was art with a demonstrative purpose. Oh, how these full-figured gals would move in those pieces, simply bringing the art alive. The sways and drapes were stunning and seemed to always bring out the best in their shapes and powerful attitudes. I was so jealous. I said to myself, "Now that is the way Blue Fish is supposed to look!"  I secretly wished I was several sizes larger, just to pull off that amazing clothing. 

I finally found my personal expression, in the collections created between 1991 through 1994, where smaller Fish pieces were produced. This however, did not keep me from collecting the more generous pieces with amazing art. My most treasured pieces were really designed only for the curvy gals, but I did not care. I continued to covet them for the art theme details, fabric, shape, color and sway. Some became wall art brings a smile to my face daily.

In 2004, my wonderfully patient and understanding Fish husband, Bill suggested a website in place of eBay, "Your items can be for sale twenty-four seven Diane, and you would not have to monitor any auctions." So with Bill's help, I launched Bluefishfinder.com on January 1, 2004. When the site went live, I remember crying in his arms, as the sales came in via email. I had no idea how I was going to keep up with the volume. My computer was blowing up with sales and questions, comments and requests. I had to teach school in the morning, I was excited, yet clearly overwhelmed.

The consignment inventory eventually took over downstairs, which was designated as my dear husband's area. Just picture industrial racks lined up like a little mini warehouse full of hand painted clothing. To free up our home, Bill offered to build me my very own, own free-standing shop on the back of our property. This shop was complete with freshly painted walls, climate control, a cool crisp ceramic tile floor, very roomy and full of Fish!  I must add, what a guy, my hero. This is where Bluefishfinder stands today.

From the Winter of 2004 through the Winter of 2017, Bluefishfinder.com remained online, consistently accepting orders as usual. The only changes made were monthly, featuring new arrivals, and occasional product specials. It was a great thirteen years, but something was missing, and it wasn't inventory! Maybe the site needed a face lift, maybe the political environment was affecting consumer confidence, or maybe gals were forgetting about the vintage fish. Pieces were getting harder and harder to locate in great condition, and I just felt like something new and exciting!  

Sales continued to be consistent, but not as strong as in the past and I felt like I was missing my roots. I just wanted a fresh look and feel for these timeless collectibles, but I could not figure out how to get something new, without changing something old. I found myself in a conundrum.

In early 2017, over dinner my father says to me, as all good fathers know their daughters, "Diane, how is your company doing and don't you think it might be time for a change?" Don't you think it is time to rebrand your company and start to seek out an audience which is larger than the one you currently reach? Wouldn't you like to make more sales and expand your target audience?" I said, "Nah, I am happy with my girls, and they seem happy with me, thanks though daddy, I know you are the best businessman ever, but honestly, that is a big task, maybe when I retire from teaching school."  After all, the site had sold over ten thousand pieces Blue Fish over the years. That alone made me tired, just thinking about all the work it would take, all the new knowledge, hundreds of hours, and anyway, why would I want to mix up my entire program?

As I got to thinking, in my quiet time alone, I began to remember when daddy bought me my first Fish. Did he know this was going to be a small business? Probably not. Did I know it was going to be a business? Definitely not. It is difficult to change your way of thinking, to change the way you usually do things, or mix up your day-to-day processes. The resistance I was demonstrating in not wanting to change my company was like saying, I am not willing to stretch and learn. My father was always about acquiring knowledge. "You never stop learning, take a risk, invest in yourself and your company, think outside the box, widen your horizon."  Who do you think said that?

I built this new site to continue my sincere dedication to the clothing line. I am committed to all the gals who want to look and feel good in the clothing they choose. This is timeless clothing, and I know this to be true. Whether you are new to Blue Fish or returning from another period in your life, somehow, these pieces always find their way back into you heart and spirit. No matter your size or shape, Blue Fish has something to offer everyone at different times in their lives. Through this website, I hope that others will feel the same love and comfort as I did when I tried my first fish.

In conclusion, not everyone can have a father like mine, to jump start them into a passion, that then turns into a self-propelled business. Not everyone can have someone who they love and trust to guide and inspire them towards bigger dreams and journeys. Not everyone can have support to assist with sacrifices to help make dreams come true. Not everyone, including myself, is lucky enough to offer such versatile clothing to so many women for such an extended period of time.

To all the Fishers past, present and future enjoy, because this site is dedicated to you and your journey forth into Blue Fish Clothing.