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 

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. 

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