FASHIONABLE was founded in 2010 by Barrett Ward to empower women who have overcome challenges ranging from addiction to prostitution. The mission of FASHIONABLE is to create sustainable business opportunities both locally and globally while investing in women.
While living in Ethiopia, Barrett and his wife Rachel saw firsthand how extreme poverty forced too many young girls and women to make awful choices for money. When speaking to these women, they told him they wanted an opportunity to earn a living, not to be given charity, so he created a business that would give them a job.
When a woman is empowered with work to do, whether in the home or in an office, she not only experiences the joy and satisfaction of developing a skill, she also creates change in those around her. FASHIONABLE works with women, both locally and globally.
Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of co-hosting an intimate reception for FASHIONABLE in Washington, DC. The purpose of this event was to bring awareness to the life changing opportunities FASHIONABLE is making for women globally. In attendance was actress and activist Minka Kelly and FASHIONABLE CEO Barrett Ward.
For DC people who reference Friday Night Lights more frequently than the prose of great politicians and philosophers, this post is for you!
At this event Minka Kelly, the guest of honor, shared an emotional and moving story about how she became involved with FASHIONABLE and went on to create the Hibret Pouch seen in photos above.
Minka’s mother passed in 2008 at the young age of 51 from colon cancer. In order to “fill this hole left in her heart” Minka wanted to do something to give back and make a difference. When she learned about FASHIONABLE from her friend and DC professional Judee Ann Williams, she knew engaging with this organization was exactly what she needed to do. What resonated most with Minka is that this organization was helping women who were in the sex trade to have other options for making money. Her mother had also been in a position where she had to choose a similar line of work to support her family. “I wish my mom had this choice, an option for a different type of work, but she did this to support our family,” Minka shared. The women in Africa who Minka met were also doing the only work they had available to them to support their families. One woman that Minka met sold her body to pay for her sister’s breast cancer treatments. “These women are heroic, to sell the most sacred part of themselves to help their families,” Minka said. Now thanks to the vision of Barrett Ward there are other options. These women are empowered and have jobs that make them feel safe and protected.
As you can imagine this was a touching evening. It’s beautiful and admirable of Minka to open herself up and be vulnerable with the world about her personal situation in order to help many other women, children and families.
On a lighter note, when Minka was in Africa on a visit for FASHIONABLE she went to the factory where the goods for FASHIONABLE are designed. She asked Barrett if she could design a bag. He was thrilled by her idea to contribute and bring awareness in an even greater way. So she picked the gorgeous pink and navy suede fabric for the exterior, and then wanting to give the women who make the scarves an opportunity, she lined the bags with their scarves. Minka’s intentions are pure and virtuous. This is the story of the birth of the pouch called Hibret, meaning collaboration in Amharic.
These pouches are beautiful and an everyday basic. I am so proud to be carrying one and will certainly be purchasing others for gifts. I told the group that night that we were lucky to have received this gift from fashionABLE and that in gratitude we should share the mission of FASHIONABLE with as many people as possible and to let them know that they can go to the FASHIONABLE website and purchase these pouches or many other goods to help make a difference too!
Minka Kelly designed this clutch as a transition piece from day to night. Just like most women, she needs a way to keep track of essentials in a larger bag during the day, but at night it’s only about the stuff in her little clutch. Thank you Minka for this simple, yet game changing, tip for staying stylish and organized while on the go.
I know that most working women in DC are using huge totes to carry around policy talking points, legal briefs, and a change of shoes for walking from meetings to the office. Having this little gem in your bag will help you find your cell phone, lipstick, business cards and other needs on the go instead of spending minutes getting frazzled, looking foolish and burrowing in your bag – I speak from all too frequent experience.
After your busy day you can pull out your pouch and look very chic at whatever social event is on your schedule that night.
This bag is absolutely the perfect clutch!
Thank you to Barrett Ward, Minka Kelly, Judee Ann Williams, Kimball Stroud, Laurie Knight and all who attended this event for creating an inspirational evening. Thank you to everyone who reads this post and is inspired to pay it forward by purchasing a chic and “FASHIONABLE” pouch.
Photo Information: Thank you to Dan Swartz of Revamp for sharing these beautiful images taken at the reception last week. Look for more images from this event soon in his Washingtonian column “Dan About Town.”