Viera resident Victoria Amendolare always had a desire to create and design. Her teenage dream was to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. But because of the cost of tuition and other obstacles, after graduating from Satellite High, she pursued a degree in electrical engineering. After graduation from Florida Tech, where she earned a B.S. in the field, Amendolare joined the Harris Corporation and began her career. She was part of a unique team that managed and maintained the FAA’s telecommunications network. Her job during the past 15 years afforded her opportunities she admitted she never thought possible. “It was fulfilling and gratifying, until I realized it was not,”
Outside of work she began painting abstract art as a hobby, gifting her pieces to relatives and friends. She even sold her work, earning as much as $500 for one painting. But after several years, she stopped. “I still had a yearning to be creative and needed something to keep me busy.”
A New Opportunity to Create
Amendolare’s opportunity to again fulfill this need came several years ago, when her daughter Isabella became interested in figure skating and joined the Theater on Ice team at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge. With each level of her daughter’s progression, the requirements for more expensive, “bling-ier” costumes rose. That, coupled with the expense of testing, entrance fees for competition and travel forced Amendolare to find ways to save money when purchasing her outfits. “I began creating dresses for her for less than half of what I could buy them for, adding my own crystals, sequins and beads and more to the basic name brand dress that had no bling,” she said. “I found I was able to make a beautiful dress for under $400; similar and sometimes even prettier than those that were retailing for more than $1,200. Soon, she was being asked to design dresses for other skaters from the rink, including making many of the costumes for the shows.”
“After my first dress or two, I wondered if I had made a mistake, but after two of the skaters wore my outfits during a competition this past spring, where I got so many compliments on the dresses, I had an unexpected reason to continue what I have grown to love.” After much deliberation, just less than a year ago, Amendolare took a leap of faith and left her job at Harris to open Meredith’s Performance Wear & Custom Designs.
Fulfilling a Coach’s Vision
“As coaches, we have a vision for how we want the skaters to look,” said Brielle Francis, Space Coast Iceplex director of figure skating. “Vicki has the talent and ability to take our ideas for costume design and make them a reality. We are extremely fortunate to have such an amazing costume designer at SCI.” Now, heading into her second year—with more than a dozen dresses sold—her newfound fashion design business continues to emerge. “I am booked through March and, though it is not enough to pay the bills 100 percent yet, I feel I am on the right track. I’m doing something I truly love now,” she smiled.