She’s got style. She’s got class. She’s got the job. But most importantly, Caryn Fonberg has humility and gratitude for the path her life has taken. “I couldn’t believe this came to fruition,” reminisces the director of shows for Fashion at the Park, as she watched the first runway show begin last November–her first time in the director’s chair. “I got tears.” For the Dallas mom of two (Blake, 10, and Jenna, 8), this is her dream job, and she couldn’t be more appreciative of this opportunity of a lifetime. “I get to,” not have to, she says of her work.
WHO SHE IS:
South African by birth, Fonberg moved to Dallas in high school with her family, going on to college in Arizona to major in fashion merchandising. “Fashion is in the genes,” believes Fonberg, stating that her daughter inherited a sense of style, which shows up even now. Fashion is the one direction that Fonberg knew she had to take. It’s her life’s passion, and she recognized that from the start. She spent her 20s working at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, where she had a strong connection with the students. But the desire for a family drew her back to her home in Dallas, and soon she met and married her husband, Mitchell. She wanted her kids to have the same luxury as she did in South Africa — an unmistakable bond with their grandparents, which the bright-eyed, curly-haired blond with impeccable taste explains, “was my one imprint [leaving South Africa]…leaving my grandparents.”
WHAT SHE DOES:
She has a job that many "fashionistas" would die for: director of shows for Fashion at the Park, NorthPark Center’s version of New York City’s Fashion Week in Bryant Park. In fact, she still has a hard time believing that the job is actually hers. “It’s the perfect example of life taking you in the direction you intended,” says Fonberg, beaming with pure joy and fulfillment. Unlike the stereotypical, cold fashion-industry execs and hard-nosed runway producers, Fonberg is warm, modest and effusive. She’s so humble that she doesn’t even like telling people what she does. "[What I do] is hard to put into words," explains Fonberg.
This “gift,” as the active mom calls her dream job, didn’t just happen overnight, but through years of preparation toiling in industry jobs, such as working a showroom at the Apparel Mart and pulling clothes and styling for shows at Neiman Marcus Willow Bend.
HOW SHE DOES IT:
After starting her family, Fonberg confesses, “I struggled for so many years comparing myself to other mothers. For so long I’ve felt guilty, but [my job] is so important to me.” Fonberg helps out at her kids’ school, but not before giving a disclaimer that if her job calls her away at the last minute, she has to go — something that she’s just recently become comfortable with doing. “[I’m] a worker — my dad’s always been like that — driven.” The working mom is also thankful that her job allows her to “be with my kids and take care of my family.” But, most importantly, she’s fulfilled in what she does. “I am a better mom when I work because I’m rewarded.”