Inclusion + Mutuality with Lisa Barnes

No matter who you are, what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, or the thoughts you would love to
keep secret forever- you are not alone. You are wanted, and you belong.
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Inclusion and mutuality. We are with you. You can count on us.

As January winds down to an close, and Human Trafficking Awareness Month "officially" ends, I want to encourage you to not let the momentum slow. Every month, every day, is filled with opportunities to live out the things that we've learned over this past month. Let's commit to being more aware of the opportunities that arise to share the issue of trafficking with someone. Let's commit to sharing what we know about the incredible organizations that exist to combat trafficking in our communities. Let's create a little extra space to invest in the young ladies that have been put in our lives. We can't do everything, but we can all do something...and by doing a little something, we can (collectively) change the world. 

In today's post, the last of this current series on Brave Global, we get to hear from Lisa Barnes. Lisa is the author of the BRAVE Journals, and I'm so excited to dive into what she has so graciously shared with us today. 

As of this morning, we are only ONE purchase away *cue the confetti cannons* from our goal of donating 30 of these incredible, transformative journals to 30 at-risk girls from the foster care system. Help us reach this goal by shopping HERE and receive FREE SHIPPING until Wednesday at midnight with the code 'BRAVEGLOBAL'. With every purchase you are automatically entered to WIN your very own BRAVE Journal with a personalized thank you from Brave's CEO. I'll announce the winner on Friday 2/2! 

And now, without further ado, here is Lisa Barnes!

Hi! My name is Lisa, I am an Officer with The Salvation Army, a Foster Care alumni, and the author of the Brave journals. Being a part of this amazing movement of people who care for vulnerable girls has been earth shaking in my life.  

The Brave Journals open with me writing a letter to my 12 year old self; when I was in foster care for the longest consecutive amount of time. If adult Lisa could say anything to young Lisa what would it be? I wrestled with this question for what seemed to be forever before I came to the simple and inclusive answer of...

You are not alone.

If young Lisa, caught in the system, in placement after placement could know one thing that would change her life forever it would be the profound truth found in that statement.

You are not alone.

You are not alone because you are not the only person who has been wounded by our families of origin not being who they could have been, or loving us the way we deserved to be loved. Unfortunately, others feel this pain too. You aren’t a weirdo or an outsider because this is a part of your story. We can stand together as we live this out together.

You are not alone because there are folks who want to walk alongside you as you navigate this reality. Some have walked the same path, and some just care a lot. If we let people in to the parts of our lives that are dark or scary, those negative feelings almost instantly lose power over us. Fear dissipates when unity blossoms.

And you are not alone because the creator of the universe is in your corner. The God who made all things, made you, knows you, loves you, and will never leave you. Take heart - even on the tough days, He’s already won; and because we are his daughters, we’ve won too.

These truths encapsulate the idea of inclusion and mutuality, the third pillar of the Brave movement.

No matter who you are, what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, or the thoughts you would love to keep secret forever - you are not alone. You are wanted, and you belong.

For real.

No

Matter

What.

For Brave to reach its full potential with this demographic, those of us that are the hope dealers get to shout that mantra from the mountaintops. Everyone is welcome here, and you don’t have to be someone your not to fit in. You just as you are is good enough.

Even if you aren’t a part of a Brave event or effort currently, you can get behind this pillar by living a life of inclusion and hope. You can be an ambassador of the truth that when God looks at us, His eyes are full of love, and his arms are outstretched ready to embrace us us as the Good father he is- even if we haven’t experienced that same love and acceptance in our homes.

For so many girls in Foster Care (myself totes included in this) the thought of God being a good father is far fetched at worst and bonkers at best. But we can help demystify this truth by living and loving through God’s lens and not with any of our preconceived notions, or ideas that some of us are different or separate from others.

When I first started going to church, I went for a long time before I believed in God. I went because the people there were nice to me. Even when I was a jerk. Even when I said bad words. Even when I was rough around the edges - to say the least.

I belonged before I believed.

I think our whole world would be different if we loved people as they were, just like Jesus does. Even before they say yes to our belief system. Some will come to faith through these relationships- if they are genuine and authentic. But even the ones who don’t come to faith will have richer more fulfilling lives because they have people in their corner who love and support them, even despite our differences.

This is super related to human trafficking because so many girls get sucked into that life because it may be the first time that they have ever been shown care or kindness. We are all seeking belonging and acceptance, and if you are a teenage girl and a man (even if he has sinister intentions) supplies this need in your life, you are likely to do almost anything to maintain that connection.

Let’s intercede and supply that basic human need, belonging - acceptance - and inclusion NO MATTER WHAT, before pimps, traffickers, and exploiters do - and in turn…. Change the friggen world.

There can be a lot of unanswered questions, and some may not get it… but God is in this. So our question is this - are you BRAVE enough to change this generation?

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Thank you to EVERYONE who has already gotten behind this. To every customer who has purchased this month to help us reach our goal - THANK YOU! To Miley, Noemi, Danielle, and Lisa for taking the time to share about Brave Global over the past month - THANK YOU

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Let's continue to fight the good fight, my friends. These girls - ALL girls - deserve it. 

 

 


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Stay connected with Brave Global by visiting their website and following them on Instagram!

 

 

Hope + Empowerment with Noemi Chavez

Girls will learn that THEY get to choose their future - not their abuser, not the pimp, not the absent parent.
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Hope and empowerment. We believe in you. You can do it.

Take a moment to think about what makes you feel hopeful...when do you feel the most empowered? Do you have family and friends in your corner to tell you that they believe in you and that you can do whatever you put your mind to? Even having ONE person to speak this truth over you during difficult times can alter the course of your life. 

Now take another second to imagine your life without this encouragement. Think of the last hard thing you went through...what if you had no one to push you, to cheer you on, to help you see all that you were capable of? 

We were made for community, for relationships. We are at our best when we have others to link arms with through the good and the bad. 

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I watched this past weekend as thousands of women marched together to express the desires of their hearts, and their hopes for the future (and the now). Regardless of where you fall on the myriad of issues politically, I'm willing to bet there was something inside you that felt stirred by the solidarity that was exhibited all across our country. We are better together. 

To help us dive deeper into this pillar, I got to interview Noemi Chavez. Noemi is the Brave Global Founder and Pastor of 7th Street Church in Long Beach, California, where the first Brave Conference was birthed! She is a wife, a mother, a powerful teacher, and her heart for the hurting and marginalized in our community is nothing short of inspiring. 

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Now to take us through hope and empowerment - here we go with my friend, Noemi Chavez.

Can you tell us about Pillar 2?

Hope and Empowerment says "we believe in YOU, you can do it!"  This pillar offers a foundation in the lives of girls which provides a launchpad for goals and dreams.  One of the most powerful ways that a person experiences hope is when they learn from another that their personal pain and challenges are not exclusively their own. What only makes this even more impactful is the stories of overcoming. Knowing that you are not the only person that has suffered the pain of abandonment and abuse, and that you can hear someone share a similar story, carrying similar scars and yet speaking up without a feeling of isolation and unearned shame can be transformative in the life of a young woman.  Brave Global is committed to telling these stories, to making them heard.  

What are some practical ways we can get behind this Pillar? 

Be an encourager to every girl and young woman in your world. Let her know you believe in her future and put up a personal fight for her dreams and goals.  Show them your scars, let them know that they too can be overcomers. And then, partner with us in taking Brave Global throughout the world.  We are committed to gathering girls in foster care, probation and from all backgrounds because after all, every girl is at risk.  

How does this pillar relate to the fight against trafficking?

This pillar provides keys to freedom. Some of the women on our stage have been trafficked and their stories open the eyes of awareness to the audience. Girls will learn that they get to choose their future, not their abuser, not the pimp, not the absent parent.  When a girl hears a story of a victim that has reached out for help, and is now a freedom fighter for others, has a career, or is raising a healthy family of their own, it lets her know that those responsible for her pain are not the ones who get to decide her future.  Perspective, knowledge and stories combined are powerful paradigm shifters.   

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A huge THANK YOU to Noemi for taking the time to help us understand the power behind this pillar. I'd love for you to like and share this with your community. For every purchase this month, we are donating one Brave Global journal to an at-risk girl - our goal is 30 journals, and we are just over halfway there!  To learn more about this initiative, check out THIS blog post. To start shopping, click here!

To connect with Brave Global, visit braveglobal.org and @braveglobalinc

To connect with Noemi, visit 7thstreetchurch.com and @noemichavezlbc

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STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR THE FINAL PART OF THIS SERIES, WHERE WE WILL EXPLORE BRAVE'S THIRD PILLAR!

Equality + Dignity with Danielle Strickland

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Equality and dignity. We see you. You matter.

What feelings begin to stir inside of you when you read those words? For too many, this is a foreign concept. Too many girls have never felt "seen". They have never felt "known". They have never felt like they mattered to anyone. 

We learned last week in my interview with Brave Global's CEO, Miley Waterman, that the majority of the young ladies they serve come from the foster care system. They have bounced around from home to home, and have never felt the security that allows them to put down roots, to flourish and thrive. 

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When I began this partnership with Brave Global, I knew that I wanted to do a blog post to share who they are as an organization and the incredible work that they do. However, once I started laying it out, I knew very quickly that the scope of their work could not be captured in one post. Brave has three pillars, the first of which is 'Equality and Dignity'. To help us dive deeper into what this means for Brave, how we can get behind this idea, and how it all relates to trafficking, I interviewed their Board Director Danielle Strickland.

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Danielle has led churches, started training schools, and established justice departments around the world. She spent 22 years as an officer in The Salvation Army, and is an Ambassador for Compassion International and Stop The Traffik. Danielle has a deep calling to empower people.  This includes traveling and speaking at conferences and gatherings around the globe and authoring several books including The Liberating Truth, A Beautiful Mess, and The Ultimate Exodus and most recently, The Zombie Gospel. Co-founder of Infinitum (a way of life), Brave Global and Amplify Peace, Danielle is committed to see people, neighborhoods and the world transform.

To take us through Pillar 1, here is my interview with Danielle!

Can you tell us about Pillar 1?

Equality and Dignity are a value based social justice strategy. In a culture that say people are expendable and everything and everyone has a price the Brave Campaign holds this incredible transforming truth that all people - every single person is created with purpose and value intrinsically. No matter the circumstance of one’s birth or the things that have happened or even things that people have done - nothing can ever take away this ‘sacred truth’ of people's value. To a vulnerable population group that has heard a very different message their entire life this pillar has the power to transform the way we all think about each other and the way we act. Brave holds the ground that says, ‘we see you and you matter’. That’s a powerful pillar for change. 

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What are some practical ways we can get behind this Pillar?

How we see people matters. And how we see young vulnerable girls matter. We keep saying to these young amazing vibrant and talented young girls, ‘you are not the problem - you are the solution’. And the more we see them that way the more we act that way. If you see someone’s true self you automatically treat them with dignity and respect - you don’t see them as poor or needy but as capable and strong and then your actions enforce this perspective. Start paying attention to the way you view people. How you see people matter. Expose and challenge the lenses that you’ve been used to - we’ve been handed a worldview that has commodified human beings and places a high value on external realities (how wealthy people are, or beautiful, or popular/famous etc…) but what if we saw people differently than that? What if people’s differences and difficulties were actually ways that true internal strength and beauty were acknowledged and recognized? Instead of pity or even mercy we would start to treat people with respect and dignity.  Give it a go - the best way to get started is to change the way you see and then take a risk to get to know someone so they can surprise you with their intrinsic gifts and strengths. 

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How does this pillar relate to the fight against trafficking?

The selling of human beings is built on the idea that everything and everyone has a price. This is the commodification of humanity and it is slavery. Often we attack the reality or fruit of slavery with exit strategies and awareness campaigns which are all important but the Brave campaign seeks to go a little deeper. We have been asking ourselves, 'what if we attacked THE WORLDVIEW that says everyone has a price?' What if began to celebrate this divine and sacred truth that every human, from every culture, and every background, and every color, was created fearfully and wonderfully good - and that they were meant to flourish with a purposeful life as contributors to a better world? We think that is REVOLUTIONARY. That’s how we choose to fight not just the reality of everyday trafficking but the forces behind trafficking that allow it to continue. 

A huge THANK YOU to Danielle for taking the time to educate us on this pillar. I'd love for you to like and share this with your community. For every purchase this month, we are donating one Brave Global journal to an at-risk girl - our goal is 30 journals!  To learn more about this initiative, check out our previous blog post. To start shopping, click here!

To connect with Brave Global, visit braveglobal.org and @braveglobalinc

To connect with Danielle, visit daniellestrickland.com and @daniellejstrickland

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Stay tuned for part three of this series next week, where we will explore Brave's second pillar! 

Introducing UNCVRD's Newest Partner!

Okay, guys....I'm SUPER excited about today's post. 

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As many of you already know, January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. For the past year or so, the more I learned about human trafficking and anti-trafficking efforts, I kept coming back to one thing - PREVENTION. What if we were able to reach our community's most vulnerable and at-risk girls BEFORE the pimps and traffickers? What if we were able to equip them and impart meaning and value into their lives BEFORE someone tried to exploit them?

The work that our cherished partner, Gems Uncovered, does is truly beyond incredible. They go into the darkest parts of our society and journey with ladies who have literally been through hell. The work the do is SO necessary and I believe in their staff and programming 100%. It is one of the most worthy causes that I have ever had the privilege of supporting. The spectrum, however, is greater. The big picture includes increased prevention measures - and I want to support that as well. Right now, in the current fight against modern-day slavery, prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation all go hand in hand. 

This is why I am SO excited to introduce UNCVRD Jewelry's newest partner organization, Brave Global. I have had the privilege of seeing the work that Brave does first-hand and let me tell you - it is nothing short of amazing. They are all about investing into the lives of at-risk girls (many that come from the foster care system)  to help prevent them from being exploited. I had a chance to interview Brave's CEO, Miley Waterman, and she gave us all of the info on who they are and where they are headed. 

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To celebrate Human Trafficking awareness month, UNCVRD will be donating one Brave Global Journal for every purchase. (Miley shares all about what the journal is and how it will impact the lives of the young ladies they serve!) Lastly, to celebrate this new partnership, we're offering FREE SHIPPING ALL MONTH with the code 'BRAVEGLOBAL'

I invite you to partner with us in this new endeavor to reach our goal of donating 30 Journals this month. At the end of the month, we'll randomly select one customer to win their own copy of a Brave Global Journal with a personalized thank you from Miley! 

Now, without further ado - my interview with Brave Global's CEO, Miley Waterman.

How did BRAVE Global start?

Before it was “BRAVE Global,” the BRAVE movement began 4 years ago when it was birthed out of my home church - 7th Street Church - here in Long Beach, CA. A dear friend of mine and a warrior for our City began to understand the epidemic we now know as sex trafficking. She approached our pastor and implored us to respond to this statistic: 80% of girls rescued from human trafficking are from the foster care system. Isn’t that staggering? We decided that together we would create a space to welcome these vulnerable youth to come into contact with a message of hope & empowerment that could be the preventative tool they need to survive their circumstances. Why not get to them with this type of message BEFORE the pimps and perpetrators begin preying on them and exploiting them? 

Since then, every year we have held a young women’s empowerment conference, now known as BRAVE. God allowed for this conference to gain exposure and in just a short time, we were asked by several other churches if we could coach them through what it would look like to hold their own BRAVE conference. Leaders at these pioneering churches understood what we now know to be true: Trafficking is an issue that unfortunately plagues each and every area, demographic & socioeconomic group. Trafficking does not discriminate. Neither should the response to it. I am proud to say that there has been an overwhelming response and in just the last two years alone, a BRAVE Youth Empowerment Conference has taken place in Seattle, Orange County, Phoenix & even internationally in Russia. 

So what did we do? We officially went global! Just before Christmas we became a recognized 501c3 non-profit corporation... BRAVE Global. We exist to educate and empower the local church to reach at-risk young girls in order to stop human trafficking and exploitation.

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What is your role at BRAVE Global?

My role is President/CEO of BRAVE Global. I am working with an incredible launch team of women whose hearts bleed for these youth and who seek to bring freedom and restoration to their lives, no matter what it takes.

What does a BRAVE conference look like?

A BRAVE conference is a day of hope, motivation, learning, empowerment and just plain FUN for the girls. The host team works for months ahead of time planning and preparing. The biggest part of this effort is initiating and nurturing relationships with the local foster care system, probation system, school districts and other child welfare agencies in order to get them to invite their youth.

On the big day, the girls are welcomed into an energetic, friendly and lighthearted atmosphere where they are met by loving volunteers who serve them and hang out with them all day. There is delicious food, desserts and fun activities including photo opportunities, crafts and dance parties! During the general session(s), we have a band and singers, inspiring spoken word poets & dance performances, to name a few things. Last year one of the churches had a self defense presentation, another one had Wonder Woman’s stunt double and another church had a female archery expert & exotic bird trainer! She brought a real live falcon to the event - it was amazing and the girls loved it. 

Finally, and most importantly, there is a keynote speaker who delivers a message to inspire and empower each girl to understand that they have value and purpose, and to assure them that they are not ever the problem – they are in fact the solution! They are BRAVE and they have the authority and the power to say “I don’t receive that” to anyone who ever tries to exploit, harm or disrespect them. You should see each of these young women digesting this message of freedom and well after the event, we continue to hear feedback from their caregivers about how it affected them in the most positive way. Here are a couple of quotes from caregivers who brought their girls:

“One girl that has always been a troubled child started to see her worth. She improved her grades, wanted to participate in school activities, asked for help after school. Her whole attitude changed. She truly turned her bad attitude into something good. The speakers really touched her heart. She realizes that she can do anything she puts her mind to do.”

“I thought it was just amazing. The message is so positive and uplifting. When I saw how happy the girls were, it gave me chills. I felt very empowered. Thank you so much. I would love to participate again next year.”

Tell us about the BRAVE journal and why you feel it will help girls navigate through this season of life?

The BRAVE Journal is a 12-part journal/ workbook that allows BRAVE to be a part of these girls’ lives well beyond the event day. It is full of valuable lessons, quotes from prominent figures and activities that can be done in a small group home setting or on one’s own. The journal is meant to encourage, educate and even give some practical tips that are useful while growing up as a teen (how to fry an egg, for example). Each attendee receives a journal as a takeaway gift – BRAVE Global’s way of committing to taking this journey of life alongside them. Many of these girls – especially if they are from the foster care system -  are not likely to have access to or be exposed to tools like this that they can take with them and continue learning. Some of these girls bounce from group home to group home as often as every 30-60 days. Can you imagine? It is a priority of ours to continue to encourage them and sustain a relationship with them any way we can, even through this takeaway.

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Why is BRAVE Global such a necessity in the fight against human trafficking/ modern day slavery?

First, I will say that any group or organization seeking to empower those who are most vulnerable or who have been exploited is an absolute necessity to this fight. There are so many amazing efforts taking place right now, not only rescue and rehabilitate those who have been trafficked, but to educate and empower at-risk youth as a preventative measure. This is what BRAVE Global seeks to do: Prevent. To reach young girls before they are reached by anyone who would try to exploit them or enslave them. We believe this is the key to them realizing their potential, unlocking the key to their future, and to living a life of freedom.

How can people get involved?

There are a few ways to get involved with BRAVE Global. If you pray, pray for us! For our leadership and this first launch year as we cast vision and come up with strategy to make our efforts as fruitful as possible. Pray for the youth who will be reached through these efforts.

Second, if you are an organization or church who is interested in either holding your own BRAVE Conference or partnering with another church on theirs, we would love to coach or connect you!

And finally… we cannot do what we are setting out to do without funds from generous partners. It takes time, planning, designing, creativity and a lot of manpower to accomplish what we are setting out to do. Any and all proceeds given are tax deductible and will 100% go toward the development of these conferences, the materials and the people who will leave a mark on these young girls’ lives, changing the trajectory of their journey in a huge way.

You can connect with us or give at www.braveglobal.org or on Instagram @braveglobalinc

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Stay tuned for Part Two of my interview with Brave Global next week!

We Can't Look Away

I started UNCVRD three years ago after learning about the harsh realities of human sex trafficking.

I wanted to be a part of the solution. 

Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, is the fastest growing crime in our world today. At it's core, it strips away an individual's freedom and leaves them trapped in a life of forced labor or profits off of commercial sex acts. 

There are many misconceptions about what a trafficked individual looks like, acts like, where they come from, and what their needs are. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite articles/videos that help to shed some light on the world of trafficking in the hopes that it will help us see the victims around us, many of whom we most likely encounter on a daily or weekly basis. 

Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, the exploitation of children - it's all atrocious. It's easier to look away, to pretend that it doesn't exist. I believe, however, that we are not only called to not look away, but to stare it down directly in the face. Speak up when something feels off. Share the stories and statistics. Set boundaries to keep our kids safe online. Get involved and donate to organizations that are on the front lines of this fight. 

My challenge to you?

Help spread awareness this month! Share any good tips or stories in the comments below. 

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Hearts in Action

When I started my business two and a half years ago, it was quite honestly a total leap of faith. I had zero experience in jewelry making or how to run a business - much less how to START a business from the ground up. What I did have, however, was a deep desire to be a part of the solution to human trafficking. I had made enough mistakes in my life to know that this pull on my heart was not one to ignore. 

With the help of COUNTLESS friends, I have been privileged to release seven unique collections to date. With each new collection, I've tried to be intentional about communicating our mission through the names of the pieces and through social media - but I was constantly not feeling satisfied with how our impact was coming across. 

Before releasing this NEW Summer 17 collection, I knew I had to find a way to better articulate how your purchases were making an impact. I have been so blessed to personally see your purchases and donations in action. I see the stories come to life firsthand. I hear constantly about how lives are being changed. But I knew this information wasn't being accurately relayed to my customers - the ones behind UNCVRD who were actually making everything happen! I thought long and hard about how I could better connect your purchases and hearts to the tangible things that Gems Uncovered is doing in our community, and I'm so happy to announce the four Impact Areas that are tied to this collection. 

Each piece of jewelry is linked to a program that Gems Uncovered offers - Street Outreach, Youth Awareness And Prevention Workshops, the NEW Women's Jail Ministry, and the Sexual Exploitation Diversion Program in partnership with the Long Beach Prosecutor's Office. Look for the ways that each piece in this collection can change a life and for the program that it supports to do so. #myjewelryCAN

I can say, without a doubt, that your purchase are helping to change lives. I invite you to visit our IMPACT page and learn more, and I also invite you to SHOP the NEW Summer 2017 "Freedom Falls" collection. Let me know what you think! Which pieces are on your Summer Wishlist? 

I am beyond grateful, from the bottom of my heart, for the hundreds of you who have partnered with UNCVRD in bringing about light, love, change and hope to the amazing women we have been and are going to be blessed to journey with through Gems Uncovered. Thank you. I love you!!! 

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P.S. A special, enormous THANK YOU to our stunning model Amalia, our beautiful and talented makeup artist Nichole, and my soul sister and resident photographer extraordinaire Shauna of Maple and Elm. Also thank you to Marissa at Symbology Clothing and Christina at Citizen & Darling for providing the beautiful, ethical and sustainable wardrobe for this photoshoot. 

Without you ladies, this wouldn't have happened. xx

Bad Ass Babes

I'm a history nerd. I studied Ancient Rome and Latin in college, and worked on an archaeological dig in Tuscany for a number of summers. I love looking at the past, and learning from those that came before us. 

When it came time to design #UNCVRDholiday16, I was constantly being bombarded by election stuff. Articles being pushed through my iPhone, passionate posts on Facebook - it was everywhere. So much of what I was seeing everyday on the news was making me feel like I had stepped into a time machine....taken back a solid 60 years when people were not treated as equals, due to the color of their skin, or where there family came from. Haven't we learned? Haven't we seen the irreperable damage that this view can cause? Day after day, I was reminded that the answer was a resounding "no".

I want to be on the right side of history. I don't want to look back when I'm old and grey filled with regret over times I stayed silent, times I didn't act while people were being oppressed and abused. It got me thinking about the brave women who came before us, who stood up against all odds for what they knew to be right. These female abolitionists endured ridicule and even abuse all for the sake of equality and freedom. This was during a time when women were still expected to be seen and not heard, yet they still used their voice and their resources to join together and put systems into place that would change the lives of so many. It wasn't viewed as cool, trendy, or Instagram-worthy, but they didn't care. They were rebels.

Each piece in this collection is named after a historical female freedom fighter that personally inspires me to stand up and use my voice and my talents to make a difference. I invite you to SHOP the collection and LEARN more about these incredible bad ass babes.

Let's be like them. Let's be rebels.

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#RebelRomance #lifeUNCVRD