This statement stuck with me after I left the Fashionable flagship store. My original intention was to simply take photographs of their recently opened retail space, but as I interviewed Fashionable’s marketing director, Marisa Pardo, I found that Fashionable is more than a store, it’s a story of hope.
Living in Ethiopia, Fashionable founders, Rachel and Barrett Ward saw firsthand the desperation of the women in their local communities. With little-to-no resources, women often turned to prostitution. It was all they could do to survive and provide for their children.
Moved by their hopelessness, Rachel and Barrett were inspired to to do something about it.
Knowing that charity would only meet immediate needs and create dependency, they focused their efforts on developing real opportunities. These women needed more than provision, these women needed jobs — Jobs that would redefine their existence, shift their environments and infuse their communities with hope.
Research has shown that investing in women affects the surrounding culture by increasing economic growth because women spend their money on their families. Investing in the home not only impacts their current lifestyle, but their children’s future.
Fashionable was birthed out of a hope for women, and continues to shape and grow their business with the mission of changing the world through women.
Today, they not only employ women in multiple developing countries, but also locally by working with the Nashville Rescue Mission to provide jobs. When I asked what it was like to work among women who have endured so much, Marisa replied with, “We ALL have a story, and we have all overcome.”
Their mission to help women doesn’t just stop at employing them, it continues through a culture and community driven by hope.
As I photographed their stunning new shop, I was no longer capturing aesthetics, I was framing stories — The beautiful, message-stamped rings are reminders of courage, each leather bag carries the tale of someone who has overcome, and the scarves are woven with pure love and grateful hands.
We all have a story, no matter what our paths have looked like and no matter what mountains we have climbed. This isn’t just about employment, it’s about creating a connected culture that rallies around women and infuses one another with hope to carry on and purpose to change the world.