LOVE shows up

It’s so hard for me at times to share emotions, and although I’m hiding behind a screen and keyboard, this is still hard for me to do. All my life I’ve been taught to love, serve, and be grateful, but to not talk about it. A bit weird, huh? Humility, in my mother’s eyes, is one of the most beautiful characteristics an individual can possess. So here I am struggling to share this. I’ve even had anxiety about it. But a struggle is usually a sign of a good, important process unfolding, right? A sign of something that needs to be unpacked and explored. I’m thankful for my struggles with WeAreDAR lately. Because lately we have been pushed beyond limits we didn’t even know existed.

Not sure if you remember me struggling to continue the project simply because we had no funds. We had the heart, the courage, and perseverance to continue, but by no means has it been easy. A month ago, Crista boarded a plane to Haiti all by herself to begin the manufacturing process with our women in Ti-Bouk. I wanted more than anything to be there a portion of the time. This project, my baby if you will, that we had been working so hard towards was finally beginning for our Haitian community, and I couldn’t be there. I cried. Hard. I had to trust that God had our best intentions in place.

Crista, who just recently graduated from college, was off alone for an entire month with no one but our Haitian family, leaving behind all the comforts of home to make it happen for these people. A huge part of me also feels responsible for those who work with our project, and, naturally, my mommy instincts kicked in. I needed someone to be there with her. It couldn’t be me because we truthfully didn’t have the money. So we needed someone who could not only fund-raise their way down, but take time out of their work schedule. And again I prayed hard. And just like I said in the beginning, love just shows up.

Taylor, who has been a God-send, stepped up to the plate and on a whim, purchased her tickets and off she went for two weeks to help Crista and our Haitian Community. And just like that things began falling into place. Although I had one obstacle taken care of now I needed to raise funds to pay everyone in Haiti. I recall swiffering the house one evening after dinner and breaking down from the feeling of defeat. I know Jeremy thought I lost my noodle….which I did, but he just held me and let me cry it out. I felt horrible for tapping into so much of our personal funds for our Haitian women. Was this even fair or was it selfish of me? I struggled more than most know, getting no sleep and working feverishly to make something happen.

Off Taylor went to spend two weeks with Crista and the women, helping manufacture this very first collection. Shortly after dropping her off at the airport on a Sunday morning, I felt the urge to pray on the ride back home. I asked God to help us. Day after day we were showing up and were just willing to love and serve those with no hope, but we needed funds to actually pay our team fairly, as well as other expenses involved, and we literally had BIG FAT ZERO’s in the bank. I asked him to place someone, something, an opportunity in our paths, and I kid you not, that same minute my phone alerted me of an email and the subject was, “WeAreDAR”. An angel was put in our path and wanted to help us put together a fundraising luncheon. The following week we hosted the luncheon and raised the exact amount needed to make this life changing opportunity available for our Haitian families in Ti-Bouk, Haiti.

Crista comes back on Saturday. I am beyond thankful for her, Taylor, and all others who work so hard to help us out… You know who you are. This first collection has taught me that God shows up through the hands of his people when we‚Äôre drowning in the darkness. From despair to hope. From brokenness to redemption. It’s real life and real faith. And just like Bob Goff would say, “To choose love opens our hearts, which amplifies our internal energy. We see more, feel more and connect more. We bring in greater events and people into our lives. We are intrinsically happy which inspires greater happiness and opportunities. It is an upward cycle.” Thank you all for your continued love, support, and for simply showing up.




As of yesterday I’ve found myself in the super excited/super stressed mode most people find themselves in before taking a big trip! When you know you have SO much to get done before you leave that all you want to do is just crawl in bed and quit life but your excitement for your upcoming excursions keeps you going…that’s exactly where I’m at.

You can imagine the lists I make with my Type-A personality..and my Target/Walmart list was nothing short of OCD. I began my hunt for DEET, SPF 1000 sunscreen, Lysol wipes, traveling toothbrush cases, etc. feeling a little overwhelmed. But as I took my time strolling down each aisle, I began to have fun with my “To-Buy” list. With every item I found, I began imagining myself in Haiti and how/when/where I would be using that product. As I contemplated my choices in the candy aisle for a solid 10 minutes, I couldn’t help but imagine meeting and loving all the Haitian children in Ti-Bouk and how excited they would be for a little taste of American treats. I eventually decided on 2 three pound bags of tootsie-rolls and lifesavers…American classics.. ūüėČ

But as I began to imagine my upcoming trip, the stress began to fade and pure excitement started to enter. I just want to rush through the next 48 hours and meet my team at the airport! I honestly don’t know what this trip will bring but I couldn’t be more excited to be on such a wonderful adventure with such amazing people! We are truly getting to live out our dream of empowering women in 3rd world countries, and we’re starting with Ti-Bouk, Haiti!

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we begin our world adventures! We can’t thank you all enough for your support through this journey! We have been hard at work for almost a year now on aDARable, but the truth is, we are only just beginning! So excited to see where our adventures take us!

Excited to start our globe trotting!

Restoring the Lost and the Broken

T- minus 4 days until the adventure really begins. 

Let’s see. Questions I’ve been asked recently:

Have you been out of the country before?¬†Why yes I have. I’ve been to Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Belize, St. Thomas. But to be honest, the last time I was out of the country was over 5 years ago. I had to renew my passport and everything!

Have you gotten your shots? Yep. Some of my vaccinations are in the form of pills that I am still taking. It has been a constant reminder of my upcoming trip! 

Are you so excited?¬†The short answer to this question is most definitely YES! If you remember from my previous post, making fair-trade clothing has been a dream of mine for years. It’s why I chose a degree in fashion design in the first place. The other side of the coin, though, is this strange place I feel caught in. Maybe you know it. The just-graduated-college-and-the-world-looks-different thing. Everything is a bit more real. The possibilities don’t seem quite as endless as they did only a few months ago.¬†

But here’s where it gets good. Sometimes in the strange chapters in our lives we are able to connect with others and God in a completely different way. I feel as though I am more myself than I have been in a long time. I’m not consumed with homework, fashion show preparation, or even really the next step. I have been content to live in this season however long or short it may be. Above all else, I have been challenged recently to really listen for the voice of God. You know the age old, you don’t have to ask God to speak to you because he probably already is, you just need to listen…I can honestly and vulnerably admit that I have never known how to do this. Or how to identify his voice. This is what I have gathered in the last few weeks:

We are called to a life of discipline. This is SO VASTLY different than the culture we live in. Let’s be real. The only thing I do religiously is check my facebook/instagram/email. In the last month, I’ve fasted twice on Mondays. It’s been a challenge and even more difficult than I had imagined. But it was so good to reap the benefits. One of those things was being able to identify the voice of God. Not that I have it down to a science, or that there is a formula, but when you earnestly seek the Lord, he will reveal himself to you. Taking the time to sit down with him will change your life. Which leads me into my next thought.¬†

Beginning to¬†really¬†know the lord will change your desires. The honest to goodness truth is that glamour is one of the most seductive and false things you can get wrapped up in. I find myself daydreaming about moving to New York and working for some famous designer (there is nothing wrong with this) and feeling jealous towards those who have gone to do that. Money, fame, power have the ability to lure us in and always leave us wanting more. We know this, but I don’t think we realize how easily we can get hooked. When we allow his heart to be our own, we start dreaming in different ways. For me, it is no longer a loft in Manhattan, but a journey of restoration (I love this word so much I have it tattooed on my arm). Restoring the lost and the broken. My sister (a restorer herself in the way of foster care/adoption) once left a post-it note on my bathroom mirror that said¬†DREAM BIG. Chances are, we aren’t dreaming big enough.¬†

So, this leads me to Haiti. I’m nervous, anxious, excited, and overjoyed that I get to be apart of this experience. I can’t wait to come back and blog all about it and tell you much more worth it the faces of those women are than anything I can dream up on my own.¬†


Step by Step

Today, I was thinking, why not share some insider information with you fine folks. Here is a very brief step-by-step list of the process it takes to design a line of clothes from start to finish. 

RESEARCH: Using the power of technology and subscriptions to websites that offer exclusive information on trends, we researched the market. This began in January 2013 even though our line will not launch until Spring 2014. That’s right, we work that far in advance to give you the most perfect product!

INSPIRATION: After browsing our resources, we realized we had 3 solid directions we could go in. We chose our favorite and adapted it to our target market.

THEME: We titled our theme “concrete pioneer”. We continued to focus on exactly who she was; her likes and dislikes, where she lived, what her daily life looked like.¬†

DESIGN CONCEPTS/ILLUSTRATIONS: This came primarily from our research. We also adapted a few looks to be more specific to our “concrete pioneer”. We started with nearly 50 sketches and chose our favorite as a team.¬†

FABRIC: Next it was time to choose fabric! This was one of the most exciting parts of the process because the garments began to come to life. We pulled our options and began choosing the ones that not only looked like our girl, but also worked well together. The 3 prints in our collection were the easiest to choose. We all agreed that the Anna Maria Horner field study collection would be a perfect fit (!

PATTERNS: We used a technique called flat patterning to create all the patterns for the collection. 

SAMPLES: Once the patters were completed, we wasted no time in starting our samples. We used muslin to create mock-ups to see the shape and fit of the pieces. 

GARMENT SEWING: After patterns are finished and any needed adjustments are made, we sewed the garments using our designated fabric. This was the most gratifying step! We could finally see the finished pieces in all their glory!

There are several more steps in the process, I assure you! Things like tech packs (illustrations created on the computer to display construction details), line sheets and order forms (needed to sell the line), and of course pricing the garments (you must know the cost per garment + the cost of labor etc.). 

And now you know (hopefully) a little more than you did about producing a line of clothing! 

Hope you all are well! We sure are because we GET to go to HAITI in 18 days! Continue to follow along with us as we prepare for the trip of a lifetime!

-CristaImageSweet Emery wearing our Madeline romper


Begin Today

Hi, Crista here (see previous post if necessary). I hope you will allow me to tell you our stories on Wednesdays. It’s MY day to fill you in on our latest goings on.

I’ve racked my brain and searched google high and low to find a quote or a story that seemed fitting for today’s post. This is what I have come up with:

“Begin today. Declare outloud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.”¬†Sarah Ban Breathnach¬†

Let me set the stage. Yesterday, 6:45 p.m. at the beautiful Juel Salon in Franklin, TN. Martha, Taylor, plus two lovelies from our Design for a Cause class at O’More, Ashley and Maarika, and I are scrambling around to put the finishing touches on our display and presentation. Over and over again, the hospitable staff at Juel continuously offered their assistance in any way possible. They helped with the set up, moving tables, beautifying our displays, and made us smile. And just like it was 7. Go time. And we were excited and ready to share all our hard work. (Let me take a moment to give you some insider perspective. This was the moment we had been waiting for! Graciously anticipating! The moment we not only got to share the collection, but we would be able to sell it as well! Armed with clipboards, order forms, and our trusty squares, we were prepared to sell the garments in order to further our dream of empowering 10 beautiful Haitian women, which, wait for it, we can’t do unless we are able to sell the line!)

…7:10….7:20….and no one has entered the room. It’s your biggest nightmare! You spend weeks planning a party and no one comes. Well, let me explain to you that in this dream (not nightmare), you have nothing to be afraid of. I wish I could explain to you how much support was in that room. In fact, it was the safest place we could have been. Our friends at Juel handled the night with more grace and compassion than we could have ever imagined. They even offered to help us continue to sell the collection throughout the rest of the week! All in all, we sold 7 pieces and 4 items from our silent auction AND we now have 4 new trunk shows in the works!

Some would have only seen struggle, but here at WeAreDAR we find ourselves humbled and grateful. We are (more than) eager to learn through joy, because folks, it takes a village! And a realization that we are on an unpredictable journey. Our friends in Haiti are worth every ounce of perceived struggle and we can feel it in our bones that we are headed in the right direction. ImageImageImage

-Crista, DARling Intern 

Those Who Wait

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Crista Hooven, recent college graduate, movie loving, guitar learning, ice cream connoisseur, seeker of light, explorer of the world. You will also know me as the DARling intern. 

This experience has been a long time coming for me, and we’re not talking about a few months, but 5 years to be exact.

In 2008, I graduated high school in Olathe, KS (born and raised) and decided it was was time to brave the world. I will always admire my dad for his welcoming spirit and nurturing push, for it is truly a balancing act. I now found myself in a small town outside of Chicago sitting on the tiniest bunk bed, drinking in the newness. I knew that I wanted to be creative and help people, so naturally, I chose a combination of art and psychology and would later pursue a career in art therapy. My freshman year flew by, and like that, I was on my way back to childhood home. It was this summer that I finally took the time to learn how to sew. I fell in love. Immediately. Though my skills and knowledge were limited (this is an understatement), my heart took great delight in the excitement of cutting out shapes and sewing them together. Sometimes they made shirts, and skirts, and ill-fitting dresses, and sometimes, they didn’t. This new obsession caused a shift in my heart and mind. I had found something that was my own and no one could stop me. I’ll save you the details, but I stayed home that next year. I let the dream of those around me fade away while I began a new journey. Though I had an opportunity to go to O’More at the end of that summer, the Lord said wait. It was painful, and difficult, and lonely, and different than anything I had imagined for myself. But I needed it. Sometimes the right answer is to pause, take a deep breath, and wait even though we live in a world that says keep going as fast as you can.¬†

In the fall of 2010, I started my classes at O’More. My dream of being compassionate and creative remained, but it had a new face. It now consisted of fair trade clothing and providing opportunities for women to not only be paid well, but to also be treated well. And just like that, in my last semester at O’More, there was a brand new class offered called Design for a Cause. Partnering with WeAreDAR, our class had the distinct privilege of designing a line of girl’s clothes that would be made with love by women in need. If I would have jumped the gun on O’More, I would have missed this opportunity. My story was playing out just as Martha’s was. Because that’s the beauty of the Lord. He so carefully orchestrates our paths.¬†

I look forward to the next few weeks and especially for our trip to Haiti! I am so grateful to have this opportunity. I am inspired and challenged by Martha’s passion and conviction every day. I couldn’t imagine a better internship.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi

-Crista, DARling Intern, excited and passionate about all things WeAreDAR