Masthead header

DSC_8738

Baraka.

Her name means blessing, and a blessing she is.  Baraka never liked her name, but once her pastor father told her the meaning, she wouldn’t dare change it. Her name gave her identity, it brought freedom and empowered her, as she says, to bless people and be a blessing. 

Baraka is the client care team leader for the IJM field office in Kigali, Rwanda and she is my hero. As we sat around the table, leaned in, and sipped our coffee this week we learned about the ridiculously hard but worthy work that IJM is doing around the world to transform lives and entire justice systems.  My friend Jen wrote a fantastic post yesterday explaining the importance of the work that IJM does in developing countries, and I urge you to go read her post (LINK!).  Can we go back to my friend Baraka?  Good, because I like talking about her.  Baraka is the woman who makes IJM’s clients feel safe.  She accompanies them to their interviews, facilitates counseling for them and more than that she gets to know them.  It’s all about relationship with Baraka, and once she establishes that trust, her clients feel safe with her.  Her goal, as a client care worker is to help her clients reach a level where they can freely share.  

DSC_8681

Rwanda has a young justice system, and counselors + client care for abused girls is still a developing program, yall.  Baraka is paving the way and going before so many.  I’m confident she’ll watch this country continue to raise from the ashes.  In her words, “When God creates you with a purpose, he gives you the energy and passion you will need.  Knowing God and knowing it’s not my work but Gods work through me.”  If that doesn’t make you want to pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with her, then well.  

Baraka is the new face of advocacy in this country.  She is rising up, building relationships and giving her life away for others.  

fighter.  campaigner.  promoter.  spokeswoman.  ADVOCATE

IMG_1579

photo cred: Kelle Hampton

the same words could be used to describe every single one of our 600+ Noonday ambassadors around the country, and most definitely our leader + founder, and my good friend Jessica Honegger.  

jessgroup

We too are advocates!  We too are all about building relationships.  This is a new way – and while it’s an idea that might be hard to grasp at first, please hear me out on this.  

The reason why we advocate for and are able to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable in 10 countries around the world?  

It’s our artisans.  

solange

eringroup

The passion in our hearts is to empower them to create their own sustainable business.  We aren’t giving them a hand out, but a hand up.  We don’t believe giving these artisans a “hand out “is a sustainable long-term solution to poverty.  Instead, we come alongside of them.  We cheer for them, we are spokeswomen for them, we promote their work by creating a marketplace for them.  We are creating dignified work for them.  

annie

ambcoop1

Our desire is not only to advocate and empower them, but to watch them grow.  We are delighted in the beauty of their work, and when they grow, we grow.  We work together, the artisans and us.  We are women, and they are women.  Neither is better.  We are growing and learning from each other along the way.  

esperanze

handsup

I learned so much this week from our seamstresses about hard work.  I watched as Grace + Esperanze designed their first item all by themselves.  I watched as they kept their cool working with material they hadn’t worked with much before.  I watched their strength to press forward, to not give up, and to be proud of their work. 

clap

With all the #StyleForJustice team, 25 Noonday ambassadors and 13 seamstresses gathered today, Charlotte declared that our ambassadors give them more zeal to work knowing that their are women in America representing them.  

dance

dancebw

With tears in her yes, Jessica told our group today that together we are “singing a song of empowerment, a song of justice” and I love the picture that we are each singing our notes and together creating a more beautiful world.  

erin

For me personally, becoming a part of our ambassador family has allowed me to be an advocate and voice for our artisans in vulnerable places all over world.  The relationships I’ve built within the ambassador family and several of our artisan groups in east Africa are irreplaceable.  These are my people, and I’m honored to use my voice and advocate for our artisans alongside of the ambassador family.  

IMG_1801

photo cred: Kelle Hampton

Join CTA
I’d love it if you would think about how you could use your voice and advocate as a Noonday ambassador.  Why not?

because of you

grace

grace

because of you I am empowered.  because of you I have purpose and passion in my work.  because of you I can help support my family.

because of you I have the courage to travel half way across the world to tell you how proud I am of you, and how much I delight in your work.

you, sweet Grace, have changed my life. 

grace2

from the outside this scenario might appear backwards.  but don’t be fooled.  When you sat next to me at lunch today, and told me that you have the skills you have because of me, I cried.  

I cried because you have no idea what your strength, my friend has done for me.  

your story is one of deep loss, and heartache, but you have overcome.

when the world would have told you to give up after you lost your father, aunts, and older brother in the genocide and were forced to flee your village at 5 years old holding tightly your mothers hand…you didn’t give up .

you overcame.  

you believed in yourself, and you had hope.  

even when the world laughed and mocked you for not being able to your education, you instead pursued an opportunity to go to sewing school.

(42 of 75)

When I came to Rwanda 3 years ago as a new ambassador, and heard of the opportunity to partner with Grace to send her to sewing school, I had no idea that all these years later I would actually be getting to design and sew with her!  I couldn’t have imagined on a Sunday afternoon in October that a friendship would be formed between 22 year old Grace and I.  Her’s is the story I will be telling at all of my trunk shows this fall.

rwanda 2 099

I meant it when I said today that you (and all of our Noonday artisans!) give me purpose.  you give me something to believe in, a way to spend my life for the poor and the oppressed from my small town in west Texas.  

It’s not just me, I know I speak for the group of 600+ ambassadors who are back at home right now advocating on your behalf.  We are championing you in living rooms all across America and are so proud to have the opportunity to share your stories with the world.  

You inspire us, bring us hope, and encourage us with your joy and courage.  You all are my heros! [ and I can't wait to show off the amazing #styleforjustice line to my friends on August 7th!!]

IMG_0022

we work together, you and I.  

like a cord that is not easily broken, we need each other, to stand back-to-back and conquer. 

we can’t do it on our own.  two are better than one. 

strand

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm.  But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 

IMG_0025

Today I sat on the floor at the co-op and watched Kelle and Esperanza braid a 3 cord strand of fabric and as Kelle held one end, and Esperanza held the other I got this great picture of the importance of partnership.  That fabric would not have been completed had one of those women been braiding alone.  It took both of them, working together, harnessing their gifts and in the end creating something beautiful together.

Noonday Collection is committed to partnering with artisan groups all over the world, not just with our sewing co-op in Rwanda, but also with our growing artisan group in Uganda, our new partnership  in Haiti and fabulous groups in 7 other countries!

Noonday is bringing hope, dignity and economic opportunity to vunerable people all over the world, and it makes my heart so giddy to know that we are a part of that movement.  the great and amazing thing is – YOU can be a part too!  Sign up to be an ambassador – or if you want to get your feet wet, concider being a part of our first ever #nationwidetrunkshow on August 7th by connecting with a local ambassador and opening up your home to host!

Be sure you visit our #styleforjustice trip page to get more information on IJM + Noonday Collection and sign up for exclusive updates from our trip!

Host CTA

     photos by Kelle Hampton + Paige Knusden 

continued from “humbled“//part 2 [some of this I posted in my original announcement post of the #StyleForJustice trip, but here's the full post]  [I had to post because TODAY, TODAY these dreams really are coming true!  I'm headed to Austin to get on a flight tomorrow morning for Rwanda!]

Let me just back up, and remind you that I am a dreamer.  Let me remind you of what I posted on 12.3.13 here.

“If you know me, you know that I like to dream.  I’ve never been much of a dreamer before the past few years, but now I can’t stop.  You see, I think dreams are like stories.  Everyone has one, sometimes we are just afraid to say them out loud.  That’s been on my heart a few months, yall.  If you aren’t dreaming, are you pursuing?  Dreaming doesn’t mean everything you dream about is going to happen, but if you don’t dare to dream, will you ever know?  That’s why I’ve made it a habit to speak my dreams out loud.  To really go for it.  [even though it is scary!]”

_(93-of-134)

My habit of “dreaming out loud” has taken me some pretty amazing places.  On a mission trip with our church in spring of 2011 to El Salvador to tell stories with pictures, on a trip to Rwanda with Jessica to photograph Jack going from orphan to son in 2011, in March it took me to Uganda with Sole Hope as I led my very first blogger trip.

Another dream I’ve been dreaming for awhile, VERY OUT LOUD, has been to be able to go on a storytelling or ambassador trip with Noonday.  While getting to travel with Jessica to visit out artisans + also visiting our artisans on other trips alone should have been enough..I wanted to do it with our Noonday family.  Jessica had been dropping hints to me about a big storytelling trip this summer and my mind and heart couldn’t help but dream!  What if!?!?!  It seemed [and is] way out of my leauge.  a total long shot that I would even be concidered to be a participant on this dream trip.

well, friends i’m here to tell you that dreams really do come true!  Something that I had literally dreamed out loud with a friend HAPPENED TO ME!  Something that in my words was “the craziest thing in the history of the world that would never ever happen” happened!  y’all!  a true “oprah moment!”

saturday morning at the Noonday Ambassador conference after Jen Hatmaker + Jennie Allen had spoken to our crew, Jessica got up and started to announce this big story telling trip that Noonday would be taking to Rwanda this summer in collaboration with International Justice Mission [what?!?!!!]  She goes through every name + short bio of each of the 5 big time bloggers that were invited on this trip, and then she proceeds to say something to the effect of…there are a few blogger ambassadors who bring a good amount of traffic to our Noonday website, and it wouldn’t be fair for them to not get the opportunity to go, would it?  She says she has 2 names on the list, and then she asks me and Paige to come to the front.  I hope I get to see the video of that one day.

Knees shaking, heart pounding, tears streaming….I walked to the front hand in hand with my good friend Paige, as we stood in front of our Noonday sisters and through tears, told them what this trip meant to each of us.  I was praying short prayers as Paige talked for the Spirit to speak through me when it would be my turn to get the microphone – and the words that flowed?  DREAM YOUR DREAMS OUT LOUD!  I spoke of how God had completely humbled me the night before.  “I started to believe that there was something more, that there was a bigger story“.  my final encouragement?

photo-(15)-copy-3
photo-(15)-copy-5

[me + Paige!]

dream. dream big. say your dreams out loud.  you have NO IDEA what God is up to.  

Y’all, it is SUCH AN HONOR to be featured on Kelli+Vanessa’s everyday mom series today!  Their vision is to find the beautiful mess among the styled perfection online.  They interview inspiring moms in a series they call #myeverydaymoms!  I seriously have been following this all year, and there have been more than a few late nights I’ve stayed up reading all the REAL, RAW, AUTHENTIC talk from moms that inspire me.  It’s an amazing group of women, and I am SO SO HONORED to be featured this week!

my everyday logo

 

One of the questions they asked me…

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?

I think the challenges I’ve faced in balancing motherhood and my passion for creativity is mostly TIME!  Before I was a mom, I ran my own photography business full time and now that I’m a stay at home and working mom, it’s hard to just find time to have a decent thought, ya know what I’m saying?  I’ve had to be really intentional about making that time for myself to be creative.  I have time at least once a week that I go to a coffee shop or the library by myself and write.  Writing is my therapy and while I could totally say I don’t have time for it now while my kids are little {sorta like I’ve done with photography biz} I can’t do that with writing.  I need it, and I will make time even if it’s only 1 hour a week.  The time of day I get to be creative as a mom has changed, and there have been some late nights ;)  But it’s worth it, and I think my kids only give me the inspiration I need to let my creativity out.  They push me to want to be better, create more, and inspire others.  My sweet Asher girl is quite the artist, and I look forward to getting to explore that more as they grow!

click here to read the rest of the interview, and make sure to follow them on instgram to follow the rest of the series!  I know you will be introduced to some amazing amazing women!!!

kelli

oh….and they have these AMAZING shirts they are selling in their everyday goods shop – and if you BUY THIS “love writes a beautiful story” tee before Friday you get free shipping AND $5 will be donated to The A21 Campaign who’s mission is to abolish the injustice of human trafficking.

 

2014FallInvite-SFJ-web

I really cannot believe that in just a few days, I will be back in beautiful Kigali, Rwanda sitting around the sewing room with some of the women I had the opportunity to meet alongside Jessica in 2011!  When I met the women for the first time, it was still a big dream for them to go to sewing school, design products and have those products go into production to be sold in the US, and now that dream is a REALITY!  I can’t wait to see how much our Rwandan artisan group has grown over the past few years! Not only will we get to watch these beautiful women sew and create, but we’ll be partnered with them side by side creating WITH them.  That’s right yall, we will be doing a “project runway”-esqe design challenge with the seamstress [you can go ahead and pray for me to get supernatural sewing skills now] I’m excited to get to create with them, side by side.  It’s the reason why I love Noonday: we truly are creating a partnership with the artisans and us, the consumers.  It’s not “oh let’s buy this necklace to help those impoverished women in Africa..” but rather let’s gather our friends, share stories of these hard working people who create the most beautiful pieces, and empower each other!  Yall, this is my heartbeat.

Last time I was in Uganda, I had a whole new vantage point for what I get the opportunity to do with Noonday.  I got to see all of those women with their babies, and a lightbulb went off.  They are creating these beautiful pieces to support their family, and to have purpose and that’s exactly why I’m selling their products, to support my family and give me purpose.  It truly is a partnership and I can’t wait to be side by side with Grace [who we sponsored to go to sewing school] and have this moment really come full circle.

so where do you come in?

I’m glad you asked!  there is such an amazing opportunity to open your home and host a Noonday Collection trunk show!  When you host a show, you are a part of this big empowerment circle!  You are opening your home, but more than that you are touching women near and far to empower one another, and create economic opportunity, which transform their families and communities.  I’ve been doing this for 3 years now, and have watched hostesses continue to throw trunk shows season after season.

why?  in their words….

(3 of 3)

“Noonday trunk shows are one of my most FAVORITE kinds of trunks shows! I’ve hosted 3 and actually did one for Wynne when she was in Africa bringing home her babies. Just by opening my door, providing a few little sips and snacks, I’ve been able to help fund 2 different  adoptions in my community while also helping create pathways out of poverty for families all over the world. What’s not to love about that! There’s something so special about tears being shed and hearts being stirred when the story of Noonday and adoptions are shared, and hearing the “oohs and ahhhs” over Noonday’s beautiful pieces. This is what keeps me saying yes again and again to host. It’s fun, easy and it helps change the world for so many one purchase at a time!”Jenna Knight, Midland Texas

(7 of 8)

“What I love about Noonday is that, by simply hosting a trunk show and shopping with my friends, I’m supporting artisans all over the world who are then able to earn fair living wages, get an education, and provide for their families. I may not be able to change the whole world, but by supporting Noonday I’m able to help change someone’s world while simultaneously helping precious friends here in the states fund their own adoptions. Hosting a Noonday show is super fun, easy, and the impact of those purchases is priceless!” - Anna Reed, Midland Texas

(3 of 5)

this is my friend Sarah, her family is one of the adoptions both Jenna + Anna’s trunk shows helped support!  she says,

“The way people have come around us and supported us has been so evident through the trunk shows. Our sweet hosts and their families open up their homes and offer their time and hospitality- a total act of love in my book. The part that’s overwhelmed and humbled me is when people I’ve never met came out in support of our boy and his adoption. It wrecks me every time I think about it. Some of the most encouraging words spoken to me about our adoption have happened at these shows.   Noonday shows create a connection for me that’s hard to describe and is such a sweet reminder of the ties the body of Christ share.” 

that is why I love noonday.  It’s about people!  Gathering people, telling stories, and wearing stories.  Over the years I’ve had probably around 50 opportunities to gather in living rooms, kitchens, churches, back patios, and boutiques all over Texas {and beyond} and there is one common theme: women supporting women.  Pretty amazing that simply gathering your friends, snacking and trying on the latest on trend pieces could result in being a part of a global movement.  That my friends is the opportunity for you!

728x90-Aug7 v2

are you excited yet?  clear off your dining table, get some snacks + your favorite beverage and HOST A SHOW! Have a fun evening [or morning] with your girlfriends catching up on all things summer while building up your fall accessories!  If you don’t know who the ambassador is in your area, fill out this form here and home office will connect you with someone!

August 7th is the DAY!  This is an amazing opportunity for your community to rally around Noonday, be the first to purchase from our new fall line, enjoy an exclusive sneak peak from our #StyleForJustice trip and have the opportunity to VOTE on which items from our design challenge in Rwanda will go into production!  I am getting giddy just thinking about it!

(114 of 134)

Paige + I are excited to represent the Noonday ambassadors on this trip!

**don’t forget to submit your email to follow our trip + have a chance to WIN some amazing goodies from some of our storytellers!