Welcome to Aerial!
People have been asking me lots lately about what would make me decide to open a resale clothing and consignment store, after 15 years as a social worker. And I admit, on a very surface level, it's probably difficult to draw the lines. But I can assure you... for me... it was a natural transition.
First things first, and that is that I believe very strongly in the power behind empowering others. When I struck out as a wide-eyed college grad from small-town Kansas, I was going to 'save the world.' Very quickly, the world let me know how it felt about that. And let's just say, she was little salty about it too. But, I was fortunate enough to have some great mentors and teachers as a grew in my profession... as well as, quite frankly...many who also taught me what NOT to do. And I discovered that the best 'help' I could provide to anyone else was to empower them to do what they needed/wanted to do... on their own.
Fast forward fifteen years, and I've seen and done a lot. I've worked in sexual assault and domestic violence since I was 18-years-old, spent a lot of time being an advocate and ally for the LGBTQ community, and more specifically... those living with HIV/AIDS. I've taught classes in women's studies at WSU, I've done presentations and panels and workshops. But the most important work I've done has been one on one with individuals and families, with both survivors and perpetrators, with both women and men... to help empower them to get unstuck from whatever they were stuck in.
What empowerment means...or at least what I mean when I talk about it... is essentially giving someone the ability to access their own inner strength, will power, creativity; whatever it might be. When we talk about change in mental health, especially as it pertains to addictions, behaviors or vices, is that change can never be long-term and permanent unless it is 1st order change. This is classified as change that comes from internal motivation and inspiration. A lot of people are capable of changing short-term as 2nd order change; that which comes from an external source or motivation. And many times 1st order change might start there. But if it's going to be meaningful and enduring, then it has to become 1st order change at some point. And that is where empowerment fits in. Empowerment is the method of ensuring that people are able to access and reach 1st order change for themselves. In a very diluted version of the conversation anyway.
What all of this actually means to you as the reader, is that when I look at true style, and body positivity, and confidence in other people... what I see almost 100% of the time is empowerment. That while clothing and fashion is seen by most as very superficial, it can be incredibly profound and capable in how it affects change in people. Because what fashion and style can do is empower people. It helps them reach their inner strength and creativity and do something on a superficial level, that brings them the ability to dig deeper on a more soulful and emotional level.
Now, I know you're saying... 'I don't think it does that for all people.' And you're right, it doesn't. Because not all people take fashion and style personally. A lot of people dress how they're told to, or how they think they should, or maybe how they can with the resources they have. A lot of people dress with outside factors and influences in mind. It's not internally motivated. It's about how they think other people will see them, and not about how they see themselves. And that's where I come in.
My hope is to empower others to find their own personal style and in that...their own personal confidence, positive body image, or self-esteem. Resale is the perfect opportunity for that, because it isn't cookie cutter or necessarily what is the latest trend (although it can be!). And many times, its incredibly more affordable. To me, it's an ability to give others the color palette and tools to start with, and then go from there. If I can help start that process, that is what I'm here for. But my expectation is that once someone starts getting the hang of it, they have the confidence and ability to do it on their own.
So I invite everyone to come by the shop sometime, to... play. Mix and match patterns. Add some fun shoes to a t-shirt and jeans. Bring some of your own clothes to find compliments for. It's all about experimenting and trying and building confidence. Step one, conquer your wardrobe. Step two, conquer the world!