By Erika, Fashion Expert
I have always been taught, and always felt, that I have a voice. That what I have to say is important and matters. That people listen to me. But somewhere, maybe around the time Hillary Clinton lost the election and the reality that the rights of minorities, immigrants, women, and countless others were actually in jeopardy, I stopped believing that. The election was a real blow. I felt like my voice, and what I had to say, didn’t matter. I felt like my voice was no match for racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or mysogyny. I felt completely deflated, as I am sure a lot of us did. The result of the election is part of the reason that the Thanksgiving rebirth of YCS never happened. I had been all set to launch all new blog posts, outfits, ideas, and projects on Black Friday. But from November 9 until just a few weeks ago, I simply went through the motions and fashion felt frivolous, and, even a little vapid, to me. I didn’t want to do anything – least of all blog.
But all of that changed with one little Facebook message from my friend Hopie in early January. “So what’s your address and your t-shirt size? I’m sending you a Bravely shirt–you can wear and represent Bravely as you see fit!” Hopie is the Executive Director of a residential community for women who have survived lives of sexual exploitation, violence and addiction. And back in September she posted about this incredible social enterprise program called Bravely! I had been so excited to share Bravely with my readers but, like everything else, it fell by the wayside when I dropped the ball and extended my blogging hiatus for another two months.
So when Hopie sent me the message (and I apologized profusely for dropping the ball) and we had a subsequent exchange she reminded me, in her own subtle way, that I did, indeed, have a voice. And YCS is a part of that voice. I can bring a spotlight and attention to whatever I want and today, that spotlight is on Bravely: Apparel that Empowers.
Why Bravely Matters
Photo courtesy of www.bravely.org.
“Bravely was conceived by women survivors of sexual exploitation and addiction. We have a message we want to share with the world: that recovery from trauma is possible through love, compassion, and community.
Women employed at Bravely are participants in the Magdalene St. Louis residential program— a community where women live and recover together. Women in this program will likely have first experienced sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 11, started using drugs by age 12 or 13, and have been on the streets since age 14.
But now we are on the journey to recovery from our past and we journey together bravely.
An essential part of recovery is preparing for employment and developing skills that will empower us to earn a living wage for the rest of our work careers. That’s why Bravely was formed—we design and sell apparel so that we can share our message of hope with you AND so that we can grow our skills in all aspects of running a business: sales, marketing, web design, order fulfilment, book keeping…the list goes on. These are transferable and marketable skills that we will carry with us for life.
When you wear one of our shirts, you are helping us move forward in our journey and you are sharing in the belief that living and loving bravely is the way to a more compassionate and connected world.”
How You Can Help: Shop Bravely
Shop the entire collection at: www.bravely.org
So here’s the thing about Bravely – not only is it an amazing business and opportunity for these women, the clothes and accessories are also really, really cute!
You know I’m always a fan of a cute (and comfortable) t-shirt and in this department Bravely does not disappoint. The t-shirts share both empowering (“Love is Brave”) and cheeky (“Compassion is Bada**”) messages and are made out of some of the most comfortable material around. I have long maintained that a good t-shirt is a wardrobe staple. What better way to rock this wardrobe must-have than with a dope message?
And, if for some crazy reason t-shirts are not your thing (what kind of monster are you!?!?!?!) then check out their cute accessories which include tote bags and water bottles. They even have apparel for the fellas! There is really something for everyone at Bravely.
And, because the team at Bravely is so incredible, they are offering a 15% discount to the entire YCS family by using the code: FRIENDSOFERIKA.
Now, you have no reason to help sell out the store! This is like buying out Ivy Park but for a much, much, much better reason!
Your Voice Matters
Photo courtesy of www.bravely.org.
Now, more than ever, our voice and our dollars matter. What we say, who we defend, and where we shop can all send a strong message. We all have a voice and we all can use it to further programs, initiatives, businesses, and organizations that matter. So I am asking you to use your voice to bring awareness to the things and the people and the causes that matter. Use your voice to let the world know that Love is Brave, Love Trumps Hate, and that we are all a Work in Progress. The women who work at Bravely have something to say; it is our job to help them say it.