Over the past month our apprenticeship program was postponed for 3 consecutive weeks due to Covid quarantines. I found myself at home in my creativity room trying to catch up to some imagined schedule, spending hours cutting and sewing up blouse samples, painstakingly working through each sleeve, collar and cuff while I fretted about how we would ever make progress while we keep having to postpone our sessions due to Covid. I would be lying if I said that my work was embodying the love and devotion that motivates it. Instead the long hours were accompanied by frustration and intense impatience.
And then one afternoon I was reading about a chef, Bryant Terry who wrote a cook book, “Black Food: Stories, Art & Recipes From Across the African Diaspora.” The article shared a passage from the book: “Black food is a communal shrine to the shared culinary histories of the African diaspora. These pages offer up gratitude to the great chain of Black lives, and to all the sustaining ingredients and nourishing traditions they carried and remembered, through time and space, to deliver their kin into the future.” Mr. Terry had articulated the soul of his work and was moving people with it.
And that was the lightbulb that helped me see – that no matter the obstacles, no matter the tedious, lonely climbs, it is paramount that I carry with me the soul of my work. Why am I here? Why do I keep showing up through all of it? Because I want women to feel suited up, beautiful, powerful and free to create in their garments so that they can go out there and do their best work to make this world a better place. I want the creating of our garments to be a meditation on the unique beauty and gifts of each woman. I want our clients to feel that liberating feeling when you wear something that breaths, that is comfortable, that fits and flatters you just the way you are. And I want to build a workshop that celebrates the art of fine sewing and custom fitting apparel where we can share our art with women to wear on their wildest work adventures, while creating abundance in our community.
And a friend reminded me a few days later that I can take that work – those long hours of cutting, of stitching, of marking and ironing and I can stay with the meditation. For women, for work and for love. The work itself is the reward. And the rest will come.
Go, fight, win.
P.S. Send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a letter from Princeton on how you can be an early supporter for the 100 Blouses Project to make custom fitting blouses that create jobs in Princeton, West Virginia and to support our Apparel Tailoring and Manufacturing Apprenticeship program. For those who have already been in touch, it will be a few more weeks before we get the letters out, but it will be worth the wait!