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Meet Ivona

It's a classic American tale—a love story of sorts—about the desire to escape political turmoil and create a more secure life in America for future generations. Young, creative, and ambitious, she and her husband left Poland for a new beginning in America. Meet Ivona Skibicki.

The past has a way of repeating itself unless you forge a new path.

It takes a special person to change the direction of a family history. Political turmoil in Poland dates back to the days of Ivona's great grandmother. As a member of the noble class, the family was forcibly taken by the government and sent to a labor camp in Siberia, Russia. Ivona's grandmother got married in Russia at an early age. She moved back to Poland and started a family. Years went by and new generations began. Then World War II started. Once again, the family was subject to being sent to labor camps. In a selfless act of love only a mother could understand, Ivona's grandmother went to a labor camp in Germany in place of Ivona's mother and sister. There she remained for three years before returning home.

Political turmoil in Poland continued throughout Ivona's childhood. From a young age, she understood the hardships her family had endured and knew that leaving Poland would be the only way to keep the past from repeating itself. However, her days growing up in Poland were filled with school and creative pursuits like singing, dancing, art, sports and fashion.

"I am the fourth generation of a family that experienced many challenges and losses but survived. I carry the history and memory of my great grandmother, grandmother and mother with me every day—it's in my genes. I wanted a better life, but I knew the challenges that I would face coming to America would be nothing in comparison to what they endured," said Ivona.

Life in America.

Today, Ivona and her husband Janusz have Polish and American citizenship. Happiness and confidence shine through in Ivona's eclectic style, and she continually draws inspiration from her artistically talented husband.

When they arrived in America, both were involved in creative careers. Ivona was a professional model seen in advertisements and on the runways. She was also a top ten finalist in the Super Model of the World contest held in Philadelphia by the Ford Modeling Agency which was televised on the program Evening Magazine.

"Modeling was fun to do while I was young. Despite the perception driven by the end product, it is a serious business. It's constant traveling, long days and endless auditions for the next job. At some point it all becomes too much. The industry is very competitive. It's extremely demanding on the body. Remaining a size 0 for a long period of time, while aging, becomes very challenging."

Eventually the fast-paced lifestyle settled into developing professional careers and starting a family. Ivona now works as a project manager in the communications/marketing industry where she's still immersed in a creative environment of graphic artists and writers. Janusz was a professional musician, who Ivona described as "a rocker". Even though his work days are now spent as an engineer rather than playing guitar, Ivona loves that he has never given up his artistic passions of music and art.

In time, she would love to follow a more creative path like interior design. One look inside their stunning home at the European-inspired décor Ivona and Janusz created leaves little doubt she possesses artistic vision.

Building an extended family through cherished friendships.

The greatest joys in Ivona's life are her husband and her son—and she glows when talking about them. Their family was complete when Zavie was born 11 years ago, and watching him grow brings her joy every day.

She is thankful for the perspective gained in having a childhood in Poland and building an adult life in America. Moving away from Poland and leaving family behind was a major decision. With relatives spread across Europe, it's not often she gets to see them. However, she credits having close, supportive friends with the ability to overcome challenging times.

"Friends become extended family when relatives cannot be close by. They offer a different view and unconditional support. These are relationships to cherish."

Being a real woman with hip style knows no age or trends.

Ivona is comfortable with herself and she exudes a positive and grateful attitude. When asked about what 'being real' means to her, Ivona replied: "It's about being you. Age is a number, beauty is a perception—it's all in your attitude. Sometimes women get caught up in aging. I don't get bogged down by that. It's all about the way you feel."

"My style doesn't follow fashion trends. Except for business, I don't dress for today or worry about being 'age appropriate.' My friends say I have a knack for putting things together. I believe if you feel good in what you're wearing, that's all that counts."

Ivona loves her HipFusion Designs jewelry because it's very casual and easily pulls an outfit together. Ivona and Neida—owner and the creative mind behind HipFusion Designs—have been close friends for a long time.

"I was excited when Neida started her business. She's smart, creative and works really hard. Her jewelry is not made in a factory in some other country. She spends a lot of time designing and making her jewelry," said Ivona.

The piece of HipFusion Designs jewelry Ivona treasures the most is a beautiful pearl necklace created with yellow-gold irregular shaped pearls accented by gold and crystal beads and a stamped precious metal heart. And matching earrings complete the set.

"It was the first piece of Neida's jewelry I bought. I wear it with jeans and I can wear it when I'm dressed up for an evening out. I think it's the perfect finishing touch to any look," she added.

Embrace a life of learning and laughing.

"Our life in America is great. We are very lucky, so I don't spend much time dwelling on challenges or letting things like aging or negative thoughts and opinions bother me. Every day is a learning experience," said Ivona.  She has a saying: Take life seriously but with a good sense of humor...make someone feel special each day and live, love and smile!