We think we are helpful and we are just not.
We think we know better and we just don’t.
Recently I wrote about power, and the power we have to partner sometimes turns into an arrogant force of good will and money and knowledge. I’ve been “that girl” who walked into the room to save it.
But this time everything’s been different…
We got off the bus overwhelmed with women looking me square in the eyes. Mary Sunshine hugged so tight and sang blessings over me, “BE FREE,” she chants. This was right. This was their business, their hood, their place, their people, and eyes were far from shifty—eyes were proud of what we are about to see, they were proud of what THEY built, who THEY had become, what THEY had to contribute.
Design and make a tote that the world would want to buy—this was the goal of our team of five. Just as you would suspect, it begins in Prada. We sat down together with samples and photographs and ideas of our own.
I didn’t have to ask what Fanny thought…. She spoke up right away, pointing to pleats and straps, shaking her head no to most absolutely everything. Her passion and leadership were unrestrained. I imagined her before the co-op when she couldn’t provide for herself, when she owned barely a thing on the earth, and I wondered if she would have been so fierce? I don’t know, maybe?
We mistake people for projects.
We mistake need for weakness.
We mistake struggle for pity.
Lift your eyes. I’ve heard it said, don’t over-celebrate scoring on home base when you started on third. Dear western friends, we started on third base and our…
…is limited by how easy it has been for us. If you teach a man to fish or teach a woman to sew and turn them loose…watch the pride that wells, the stories that are built, the children that are unleashed, the darling bags that are birthed.
Jennifer lived in Rwanda, she and her husband were starting companies, and she saw potential. She built a friendship with her neighbors, and when Jessica started Noonday, Jennifer rallied them.
The women had to be trained, they needed a few tools, and then she stepped back and watched. Jennifer moved back to the states over a year ago and these women HAVE IT. Their co-owned sewing co-op is producing products sold around the world.
I just freakin’ believe in women. You give them a tool and they will build a city if it helps their kids thrive.