Day 1 (1/5/14)

Crista here. For those of you who don’t know, I went to Haiti for the month of January to oversee the production of our very first line of fair-trade children’s clothing! This morning I am finally setting aside some time to pour over my time in Haiti. I guess you could say I’ve been putting it off because I knew it would be an emotional experience and, let’s face it, I avoid the ugly cry at all costs. 

It all starts with this notebook. The night before I left, my dear friend Hannah gave me my Christmas present. In it was this beauty and I knew exactly what I would be writing in it. I was so swamped with the holidays that I neglected to find something that would hold my thoughts, experiences, prayers, feelings, and dreams. 

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SUNDAY                                                                                                                                   January 5, 2014

“Today was my first full day in Haiti this go around. It began unofficially at 5am to the sound of rats stirring in my room. After  falling bad asleep, I woke again at 7:30 to the sound of church bells. I had just enough time to get ready and went to the common room. I was greeted by a new friend, Father Eddy. He was very friendly and sweet. He also works for Partners in Health with Paul Farmer. It was very exciting to talk about him and reminded me of my passions.” (If you don’t know who Paul Farmer is, I highly encourage you to read Mountains Beyond Mountains. His passion and dedication to the people of Haiti is unwavering and incredibly inspiring.) 

After a rather lengthy church service, I found myself back in the common room with Father Eddy and my interpreter (and friend!) Marc- Endy, though Father Eddy’s english was a breath of fresh air! We shared a traditional Sunday lunch of squash soup together and discussed my time in Haiti. He ate quickly and told us that he needed to go visit a family whose house caught fire recently. Their youngest son was in the home at the time and was burned very badly. He was in the hospital undergoing treatment but I could tell the situation wasn’t hopeful. Father Eddy made his exit while Marc-Endy and I continued to talk about the family. I asked him if I knew the family and he told me that I did. It was Reesha’s family, a sweet boy who had been taken in by one of our own WeAreDAR girls! Though she lives in America and he in Haiti, she does her very best to make sure that he has the funds he needs for school, books, uniforms, and food. I asked Marc-Endy if we could also visit the family and he said of course and suggested that if I had any money to give that it would be very helpful at this time. (Marc-En rarely suggests such a thing.)

I remember walking towards the house and trying to prepare myself for what I was about to see and praying that the Lord would use me in any way he could. “The mother was very sad and I hugged her and held her for a moment. Reesha had tears on his face. I was amazed how moved he was because he could have only been 6 or 7 years old.” Though there were many people gathered around, there was a quietness in the air. We walked in the still standing house, the smell overwhelming. They were in the process of cleaning and gathering all the burned items. Vanya, the mother, looked as if she was so weak she might fall over. 

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“We then walked through the village and said hi to many people. We also stopped in on the baptist church where Marc-En usually goes. He jumped right in and started playing the bass. All of the children stared at me. Most of them smiled with excitement! But some remained serious. It is pretty crazy being the only white person for miles and miles. I often wonder what they really think of me. What they think of my smile, is it sincere, do they trust me? Do they think I pity them? A little girl I’ve never met ran right up to me and jumped in my arms exclaiming my name. How do they all know my name?! I will continue to pray over my protection- proclaiming the Lord’s goodness and mercy over this house and my life (and like Marc-En said, that the rats would respect me!). I am (by no surprise) having a hard time with the food. I continue to pray that I would be better- meals are a great place to share communion and if I refuse to eat, I refuse to take part in the greatest meal in life. This month we will need miracles. I pray the Lord sees and responds. That he would open doors I didn’t even know existed. It is very strange being alone. At times I love it, but at times it is very difficult. Nights are the hardest for me. Would the Lord be so kind as to give me peace and assurance. That I could calm down and relax and rest easy.”

I have had many people tell me how courageous it was to go to Haiti for a month on my own. I hope this bit of truth and insight allows others to see that it wasn’t always easy and I wasn’t always strong, but that the Lord was with me every step of the way and knowing that was more than enough for me. 

Don’t worry, I have MANY more days to share, but as you can see, one day often felt like a lifetime! 

Here’s to more stories soon!

-Crista 

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’re 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.

Xo,

m.

Shop aDARable now for 10% off your order!

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Until Sunday, November 2, when you enter the code WEAREDAR10 at shop.wearedar.org you will save 10% off your order! The holidays are just around the corner and our aDARable clothing is perfect for that little fashionista in your life. Not only will you be supporting a great cause, but also our 10 women in Ti-Bouk who depend on our line for economic independence. Shop our ‘clothing that tells a new story’ with your head and heart.

aDARable in ATL

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This weekend the WeAreDAR team packed our bags and headed down to Atlanta, GA to be a part of the Apparel Market. This was our very first time at any event like Market (and my first time in Atlanta – hello, Gladys’ Chicken & Waffles!) and we were so happy to meet all our new buyers! The unique and wonderful thing about WeAreDAR and our line, aDarable, is that it truly tells a story. It was encouraging to hear buyers taking notice of not only our beautiful products but also to see them really listen to the whole purpose of the line. We now will have aDARable sold in 5 new stores and you can’t help but just feel this good energy continuing to build around this project.

– Tiffany

Give and Take.

The last two weeks I have heard the Lord say: give. Even in times when I was certain I heard that word, I found myself paying for things I didn’t necessarily want to. I am having a difficult time coming to terms with money, comfort, what’s enough. I have even been desiring marriage in a way I never have. As my dad said this evening, “someone to help carry the load”. He hit the nail on the head! After 3 years of school and never making enough money to support myself entirely on my own, this has been a radical transition for me. How do I spend my money, how do I make it last two weeks, how do I put it towards my future? Yes yes, I made a budget. So there’s that. But then there is also an underlining freedom. I am trying to find the balance. It’s interesting though, because it seems to me already that the more you get the more you want. And the more you have, the more you worry. Whatever it may be, we are never fully satisfied with what we have. 

Before I continue, this is in NO way manipulative. We are a non-profit and run off donations, yes, but these are the musings of my mind and nothing else.

So let me rewind to last week. I went to dinner with three of my friends. Two of them I would call my best, one I would call a mutual friend. Though we have spent time together, I would not say we are close in any way. It just so happened to be his birthday the next day. He joked about me paying for his meal, as I have suggested others to do for me, and I didn’t think a whole lot about it until the bill came. In that moment, I reluctantly grabbed his and insisted on paying. As I saw my purchase double within seconds, I immediately thought of the number in my account decreasing. Still, I knew it was the thing to do. He was obviously grateful, but somehow that wasn’t enough for me. I was still consumed with how many dollars I had to my name. (I’m going out on a limb here, assuming you’ve had a similar experience.) There is not a miraculous end to the story. I didn’t win the lottery the next day. But, I did see him a few days later and he thanked me from the bottom of his heart. I could see it. And he said those words, “it meant more than you know”. 

We’re talking a whopping $13.00. It wasn’t about the money. It was that in that moment, he knew he was worthy to be blessed. Imagine the power we hold each and every day. You know what I’m talking about. Taking an extra second to hold the door open for someone even though they’re several steps behind you, sharing a smile or a laugh or a comment with a stranger, giving someone a simple and needed nod of dignity. 

 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

                                -Plato

Finances are difficult for SO many. In America, our concerns are vastly different from those in other parts of the world. This website (www.globalrichlist.com) is AWESOME! You can type in how much money you earn annually and it will give you a little perspective about the global community. I was just thinking, what if we became a little less attached to the things of this world and start living with eyes that see the need of those around us. What if we lived our lives in such a way that we reminded others of how worthy they are to be blessed. And you know, now that I think about it, a few weeks ago I found myself being blessed by others in this same way. You can’t help but to pass it on. 

The Lord gives and takes. It’s a fact. So why don’t we give when we can, and humbly accept when we need. 

Wishing you a week full of blessings.

-Crista. 

We are in Haiti!

“I use to think life could be shared by anyone but now I know choosing the right people is pretty important.” — Bob Goff, Love Does

Rain. I talked about rain on one of my most previous blogs. The saying of some people just get wet, while others actually feel the rain. Today I felt the rain. I really did. It was the romantic, happy, dancing rain, it was the rain that brought feelings too good to be true. I don’t know how to describe it.

I’m here in Haiti, surrounded by beauty everywhere. It’ the stillness. The simplicity of life here, but we all believe we can make it even more beautiful, by providing hope to these people who have basically nothing, yet have so much love.

Seeing our women for the first time brought tears to my eyes. Seeing them excited, wearing their Sunday best, made me realize how much this really means to them. Some of our women travel more than 6 miles every day for this opportunity…it’s the small things. I know I’m all over the place right now, but I’m just over the top excited for what is happening.

Our crew consists of our team cheerleader, Taylor- which along with many other tasks, is taking care of the women in our project, by making them feel loved, appreciated, taken care of, and supported. She has fallen in love with the children and women. It’s been so fun to watch her interact with the people of the village.

Crista-our DARling intern has amazed me everyday since arriving. You can just see how much she loves teaching our women and you can see and feel how passionate she is about this project. Crista is one of the designers behind our “Concrete Pioneer” collection. She has been a part of this project from day 1 and so she has been a vital role in our current mission here.

Sarah- our fun, awesome, ” Zami” aka friend, from Matilda Jane Clothing, has been a God send. She has been working hand in hand with Crista, teaching the women all the skills they need to know to produce our line.

Jennifer- beautiful Jennifer is a producer for Studio Now, and has worked on projects with L’Oreal, Verizon, AOL, along with many more. She has donated her time to help produce a video that tells you more about our work here in Haiti.

Paul- I have no words to describe Paul. Paul is a Director of Photography and simply the best. Paul has traveled the world filming for nonprofits, like ours. We have had so much fun with Paul-man! He is here working with Jen, and filming most of our project. Paul will also be editing our video once we return. He too is a God send because “someone” sponsored his entire trip and he took sick days to help us and travel with us. I can’t tell you how thankful we are for him.

And so far our crew has accomplished sooo much. We have made sewing tables for each woman. We secured a generator, surge protectors, extension cords, and taught the woman how to use electrical sewing machines for the first time! Crista and Sarah have taught each lady how to make button holes, sew zippers, how to use a serger for the first time, and tomorrow they will be making patterns!! Whew! Now can you understand why I really don’t have words to describe what is happening? We will post pictures soon, since our internet is iffy, at best.

Bob Goff said it best when he said, “Sometimes I think God says to ordinary people like me and you, that instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads, sometimes He wants us to keep our eyes open for people in need, and to do something about it.”

Feeling blessed.

T-48hrs!

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.. 😉

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!
T

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. 

-Crista 

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 (www.annamariahorner.com)!

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