A Personal Journey toward FairFem
Live a life that allows for 'aha' moments and let life guide you to live out these moments.
I wanted to take a few moments to take you on my journey which ultimately led me to launch FairFem.
My story is not particularly unique. There was no drastic event that occurred in my life that caused me to change my mindset. I can, however, pin my desire to dive into the world of #fairfashion and #femaleempowerment to particular 'aha' moments. They were no major moments - in fact, I had to do a bit of self-reflection to figure out what they actually were.
First, let's back up to about 10 years ago. Motivated to live in Europe, I was thinking of excuses to quit my well-established consulting job in the US. Pursuing a Masters degree in Prague was the ultimate decision. To not step too much out of my comfort zone, I settled on a program focusing on international business. Hardly an adventure, but it was my ticket into Europe.
The beauty of being a student again, among others, was having a summer vacation. I had the luxury of flexibility and traveling was an obvious answer, but I was admittedly seeking something more....a fulfillment of some sort.
Through various connections, I landed upon an orphanage in Uganda. If anyone knew me back then, you would laugh at hearing me volunteering to work with children. Let's just say I tried my best to avoid them up to that point.
But... Why not? Luckily for me, the orphanage had a holistic approach to caring for the children. This included programs for the teenage girls to adopt lifelong skills for their future development. Several hadn't had a proper education and catching up at their age just wasn't realistic. Luckily, the orphanage provided a solution.
They taught the girls how to make pizza and operate a successful restaurant. The girls learned how to make jewelry and other crafts to sell. They learned how to use computers and handle finances. Knowing that my strength was not children, I instantly knew that I could at least provide my business skills to these girls.
I guess you could consider this as my 'aha' moment, I just didn't realize it yet.
These girls had had tough lives and it was clear that they needed support with job trainings. However, little did I know how deep #femaleempowermentstrategies could go and the impact that they could have. My worldview had begun to change and I wanted to dig deeper.
I returned back to Europe, changed my Masters Degree topic and among many things, I started to study these strategies and their effects on a nation's development. I volunteered again the following summer and I was able to explore these topics even further. If only all women were provided with the tools and liberties to reach their full potential! I quickly realized that the impact of educating a girl and providing economic opportunities to a woman is endless.
Fast forwarding several years, life eventually led me to #Switzerland and I was connected with #FashionRevolution. I wasn't a major shopper to begin with (but that was admittedly more due to living on a student budget as opposed to my knowledge of the fashion industry!), but after learning about #fastfashion, I could not go into one of those stores again without a guilty conscious.
Learning about the destructiveness of the fashion industry was another turning point in my life - and it was clear that fashion could be a tool for female empowerment.
This is how FairFem was born. Years of dreaming...and plenty of excuses...but finally I was able to make this dream a reality. While these 2 topics - female empowerment and sustainability and fairness in fashion - still have a long way to go until their goals are achieved, it is encouraging to have discovered several brands and people which are really trying to make a difference in this world. These small 'aha' moments in my life have helped me make at least a tiny contribution to solving the problem.
Other than writing this post to provide you all with a little insight into me and into #FairFem, I am also hoping that this is actually a bit of encouragement for others. You don't need a drastic turning point in your life to make a difference in the path that your life is taking. Live a life with open eyes and allow for these moments to occur. They can make all of the difference in the world for you, and hopefully at least a tiny difference in the world for others.