For about a year, I have been working on a special project. You know how sometimes an idea pops into your head, and you wonder “Could I really do that?” This is one of those.
I am frequently asked to donate dresses to charities, mostly for silent auction fundraisers. My customers have causes that they care deeply about, and they ask, so I give. It’s easy.
But sometimes we want to do meaningful things that are not so easy, that require thought, investment, time and risk. And sometimes a cause or an organization strikes our heart in a different, more persistent way. The Canada Mathare Education Trust felt like that to me. It’s a secular, volunteer-run, registered Canadian charity that provides high school scholarships for children living in the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi. Mathare is one of the largest and most impoverished slums in Kenya, and most of its 800,000 residents live on less than a dollar a day. Thanks to the opportunities CMETrust provides, kids who would otherwise not have access to a high school education are thriving, and several graduates are now starting university. The students are seizing these opportunities, working hard, and taking on leadership roles in their community to make life better for others. You can read profiles of the students at CMETrust.org.
When I first met CMETrust founder Victoria Sheppard at the One of a Kind Show in 2008, she bought a little top for a friend’s baby and asked if I would be interested in supporting her charity. In the years that followed she continued to come to me every year for a dress, we got to know each other a little better, and I started to feel more and more moved by what she was doing in Mathare, so thoughtfully and responsibly and with such incredible results. I wondered if I could design a dress that would express the idea of being connected to others, with a collective human responsibility to help support each other, as a fundraising project. I called Victoria and pitched the idea to her. Of course she said yes.
Several months and many conversations later, I am very happy to release The Love Dress, and to share the story of this amazing charity with you. The dress features a simple A-line cut in a deep blue floral print, with two vibrant intersecting red lines. The design echoes a Chinese proverb about the interconnectedness of all humans, even across oceans, a proverb that also inspired my business name: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break.”
I’ve also created a short video to spread the word about this project. You can watch it at http://youtu.be/gL4V1mxRBMg. If you like it, I hope you’ll share the video so that more people can learn about the project.
The dress is available in sizes 2-8, and $5 from the sale of every dress will directly fund scholarships for children in Mathare. You can find it online at http://redthreaddesign.ca, and it ships free across Canada. You can also pick one up at a few great shops in Toronto: Planet Kid, Kid Culture, and 100 Mile Child.
I look forward to reporting back to you about how this project develops over the next few months. I hope you’ll help me spread the word so that we can raise as much money as possible and send more kids to school!
Red Thread Design