LINDA ROWE THOMAS: The burns have never affected my ability to be able to sew, to draw, to do anything. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I always have a sketchbook. I have tons of them actually. There is one here, there is one in the office, one in my bedroom. So I am constantly sketching. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: When I am drawing, it’s almost like a kind of, peaceful thing. It kind of gives me my moment of, my awe moment you know, where I can just relax. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: The day of the fire I was actually two years old so I don’t have any recollection of it. SHARON STEGER: All I remember was an explosion. My parents were outside and I remember my mother, my father you know, running to the house. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: It was myself and my six-year-old sister who was standing next to a heater when it exploded, and she passed from smoke inhalation five days later. I really wish I could remember her. I received third-degree burns to my face and hands. SHARON STEGER: Linda’s burns, it was very hard you know, being that young because you just, you just didn’t understand. Mother taught me how to help wrap her bandages and you know, we had to soak her hands and she had to wear a mask on her face to keep the scars down. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I got into fashion when I was probably about five. My mom sewed and she was an incredible seamstress. I think that was one of her ways of tricking me into getting the mobility back in my hands. Once she saw that I really like sewing, she started to teach me how to do little things. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I was never treated as though I was a burn survivor. I was never treated as though I had limitations. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: My burns never interfered with my ability to do anything when it came to sewing. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I figured out my way of doing it. My right hand is pretty much you know, functional. The left, that’s the one where I you know, kind of, adjusted and made things work for me my way. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I absolutely got reactions from people on the street. You get the ugly words that people say that will always stick with you. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: There are still times you know, I will catch someone taking a second look or staring. But I mean it’s just a part of life now. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: My fashion line is Romás by Linda Rowe Thomas. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: My fashion inspiration actually comes from just about anywhere you know. It could be going to market and seeing the fabric first. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I have gotten inspiration from sitting on the beach and just seeing the colours of seashells. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I would say classic with contemporary style because I grew up loving Jackie O. Because I loved the way, even if she was riding a horse, she looked very elegant and classy. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: I think the turning point for my fashion was you know, someone seeing it and saying, ‘Hey! I want to introduce you to a producer from New York Fashion Week. ‘ And so once I did that first show with New York Fashion Week, gosh! Everything just kind of, took off. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: Dressing people for the Golden Globes and for some of the red carpet events, it’s really surreal because it was that thing that I dreamed of. I used to make my younger brother and sister pretend to be models on the runway. That’s an amazing feeling. AMARI THOMAS: I have never seen my mom once struggle with any activity or any task that she has ever been given. She has always told me how she was always raised to believe that ‘can’t’ wasn’t a part of her vocabulary and that’s something that she really tries to enforce in us as well. ANARI THOMAS: She is so dedicated and she is running around non-stop from the crack of dawn until the sun goes down. It’s a really exciting process especially going on with everything else that’s happening tonight. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: Thank you so much for coming out this evening. I am so, so, so, so honoured that I had so many family and friends that showed up to help me make this possible. This new collection, which is what tonight is all about, is my ready-to-wear. I have been doing custom for years and now I am actually going to do ready-to-wear. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: This is my big sister, Sharon. Please stand up. Sharon was like our mother, mother big sister. SHARON STEGER: Linda’s fashion line – I think it’s great, I think it’s marvellous, just really proud of her. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: Over the years I still have gained more and more self-confidence. I learned how to actually look in the mirror and love that person that was staring back at me. ANARI THOMAS: Every time I have been asked who my hero was whether it was in elementary school or in college, the first person that’s always come to mind is my mom. She motivates me in everything that I do. Nothing ever holds her back. ZECHARIAH THOMAS: She is amazing in every way possible because she is an incredibly strong woman. LINDA ROWE THOMAS: Knowing that when this accident first happened at two, the doctors told my mom that I will probably never have a really good quality of life because of my hands and yet these hands are doing remarkable things.