It’s an exciting day for sure, the official launch of my latest product design – a signature scarf for fashionABLE, a company that I am deeply and incredibly moved by. And while I want to celebrate the design itself and shout its loveliness from the mountaintops, I want to first share the inspiration behind this collaboration. You know me; I’ve always been more into substance than style. If you are, too, read on. If you’re not (no judgment!), the scarf is here (free shipping today!). I’d love your help in supporting the amazing work that fashionABLE is doing.
OK, onward. The story goes like this…
It’s funny how something really monumental happens – a new job, a birthed baby, a cross-country move – and the only way to catalog it in your mind is before-this-but-after-that, as if the sequence in your life has been ripped into two parts. After college. Before marriage. Before kids. After the pixie cut.
When I traveled to Ethiopia last year, I expected a rip. I sensed that the experience would change me before my plane even left the tarmac, and I braced myself for the split in my story; the tear on my page. The night before we left, I found myself packing far into the wee hours of the morning, stuffing a chambray backpack with travel essentials – hand sanitizer, journal, breast pump (oh, nursing) – wondering what I will feel as I unpack these same necessities a short week later. Where will these hands have gone? Who will this heart have fallen for? And most importantly – what is to become of it all?
What I didn’t expect, however, was that there wasn’t a rip. There was no before Ethiopia and after Ethiopia split – pieced and segmented – but instead, a small and steady shredding of threads. To be fair, Ethiopia played a role in the unraveling – it was perhaps the splinter in the wood railing that I’d caught my life’s scarf on, slowly undoing intricate and complex knits that had tangled into the person I was.
It was difficult to process, coming home simultaneously changed but unchanged, my head feeling the Ethiopian raindrops; my feet treading on American soil. I wondered when the sights and sounds of that beautiful country would infuse themselves into my everyday lifestyle here. Where was my rip? When would I tear?
And I realize now – what took nights and months and endless paragraphs to arrive at – is that of course there wouldn’t be a split. Because the experience was no more life-changing than it was life-giving. It filled in a few blanks and rearranged some sentences, but my story was no different than the story these women are writing daily – one of intention and purpose and great, great ability.
There’s a tag fastened to every fashionABLE product, as each scarf is named after one of the heroic women who make the fashionABLE products. It’s a declaration of sorts; a statement of gratitude for the role a job has played in her life. Tigist, who is ABLE to dream of her future again. Mehari, who is ABLE to send her children to school. Alem, who is ABLE to raise her family well. Teshome, who is ABLE to support her little sisters.
Their statements are much like our own, scrawled with empowerment and growth, continually writing and rewriting themselves into a larger story. Tearing and patching, ripping and repairing, tangling and unraveling. And these very statements, I believe, are what weave us together – intricately, delicately, permanently.
These statements became the final thread in my own unraveling – the realization that intention is everything. Gratitude is essential. Mind over matter, eyes fixed above, the whole shebang. There are circumstances in this life that cannot be changed by a perspective of gratitude, but it doesn’t matter because the very perspective changes us. And that’s growth, right?
My own statements, as a result, have shifted. “I have to work.” is “I am ABLE to work.” “I have to get through this.” “I am ABLE to get through this.” I am ABLE to grow. I am ABLE to change. I am ABLE to learn. I am ABLE to overcome.
Naturally, it makes sense that there was no tear – no grand, pomp and circumstance event – because sometimes, the most important strings are those that hold small shifts, tiny unravels, molded pearls of wisdom. The strands we collect and keep close, clinging to our hearts, clinking against our blouse buttons. Sometimes, those strands are made of many words – otherwise, just one: ABLE.
I wanted a daily, tangible, visceral reminder of this shift – something to wrap around myself to remind me of truth and wisdom, beauty and perspective. And so, with the help of a dedicated, willing and very, very ABLE team at fashionABLE, the idea was born.
My sweet friend Melissa volunteered her inspired hand-lettering talents while a local screenprinter in Nashville worked tirelessly to produce my vision. Barrett, Marisa and Jen were patient and loving and dedicated, translating my non-technical designer speak into something that – magically – made sense. And Ken, the thread woven into everything I do, offered his keen, detailed Photoshop talent during endless mocks and drafts and revisions.
It was a team effort indeed, the key members being – without a doubt – the skilled hands of my Ethiopian friends.
This one’s for all of us. For those who feel more than ABLE or less than ABLE or maybe, just-might-be, perhaps ABLE enough. For those who have fully realized their ABLE and those who haven’t yet scratched the surface of their ABLE. For those who embrace their unabashed ABLE or those who are nervously preparing to leap into their uncharted ABLE.
But mostly, it’s for those of you like me – who might need a shift, an ever-so-slight unraveling of your story. Who might need a bit of mending from have-to or don’t-want-to or am-scared-to into one beautifully, achingly, undeniably inspiring perspective: ready, willing.