“It is a tragedy to look back on your time and realize that you failed to engage Fully and Freely”.....Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry
This is the quote that inspired Christy to march off the beaten path and pave a new one towards inspiring women with Stories That Matter.
The day I met Christy was one of my firsts after moving from the United States to the Netherlands. As an international student studying Psychology at Webster University, I strive to break through my comfort zone and interact within a diverse community. Though young, the experiences and people I have met through my travels have given me most valuable lessons.
During my stay, Christy has given me the opportunity to meet inspiring women, partake in events, and dig deeper into finding my own passions. Before I met Christy, I never thought about stories and how impactful they are. Yet, after meeting her and learning about her work, I have come to realize that storytelling is essentially one of the most important traditions of human existence.
Stories give us the chance to create purpose out of our experiences and serve to develop a sense of character as we create the context of ones self, ones past, and ones future. Stories are important and have an intention, and that intention is to be shared.
Without stories we may never have an understanding of where we come from, our ancestors, our cultures, or the identities we all carry and express ourselves as. Our traditions and our motivations can adjust depending on the stories in which we are told. When it comes down to it, stories alter our human experiences.
This philosophy is embedded in Christy’s platform SheSustains which is co-founded with Veena Raju Joseph. SheSustains aims to promote a safe space for women to connect, support, inspire, and nourish one another with stories that matter. Christy aims to build upon this value with her upcoming event on June 15th, which offers personal storytelling, impactful workshops, a chance to connect with strong women and build a collaborative community. A mini-market of handcrafted goods made by women for women as well as a clothing swop is also part of the event.
For Christy, stories are not only presented in words, but are also captured in material creations crafted by skillful hands, which can be passed on to new owners who cherish the artistry of the items and the history imbedded within. Christy will have her UnikBlends’ trendy accessories and handbags for sale, all handmade from once-loved clothing items as well as newly tailored made blazers from indigenous fabrics.
Christy’s motivation for a zerowaste approach is the foundation for the creation of UnikBlends, an initiative that collects and recycles clothing and reinvents them into bold and colorful vintage pieces. Avoiding waste and promoting a sustainable reality is another passion Christy has come to know, but it isn’t without her own story that she would be where she is today.
Sitting down with Christy, I wondered what brought her to this type of inspirational work. Immersed in a stressful and demanding career, which ultimately sacrificed her health, it took a near death experience to bring Christy face-to-face with what it means to live an authentic and fulfilling life.
While recovering from a ruptured appendix brought upon by stress and a toxic work culture, Christy began exploring areas of sustainability and how she could partake in working towards a zerowaste environment with her fashion. Noticing the plethora of the beautiful African fabrics that occupied her closet without wear, she came across the idea to recycle and repurpose them into intricate pieces, such as the African head gears called ‘geles’. From this, individuals were able to appreciate the treasure within another's trash.
With a background in chemical engineering, Christy has an understanding of the environmental degeneration that the fashion industry has on the environment. Displeased with the toxic dyes, synthetic fibers, and microplastic particles that are most commonly found within clothes, Christy found value in avoiding as much waste as possible while telling a refreshingly new story about African fabrics.
Though to be clear, Christy’s purpose is not solely related to fashion, it is more about fusing ideas into a sustainable reality and why she refers to herself as a ‘fusionista’. Her recovery period also brought upon a chance to engage and connect with strong women whose stories of breaking barriers became the sign of hope she needed to change the course of her life.
Energy, enthusiasm, and entrepreneurship are three characteristics Christy observed of the women who shared their inspirational stories. These characteristics, however, were considered foreign in her prior sphere of activities.
Long working hours, mounts of pressure, unrealistic deadlines, with the toll of trying to balance that with motherhood as well as social engagements with little or no support are the reality for most women. Noticing the impact of this viciously dangerous circle on friends and colleague’s health and well being, as well as her own, Christy was no longer willing to affiliate herself with anything less than meaningful work, her complete “body of work”.
This shifted mindset sought new possibilities that would support her roots, values, strengths, skills and beliefs by creating a sustainable reality that is inclusive, innovative and empowering. This would become the main theme of her platforms (UnikBlends and SheSustains), which works towards gathering a diverse community, creating items with long term value for women, made by women a and sharing genuine stories that may become a source of inspiration for women, just like they were for her.
I hope to see you at UnikBlends annual event: Sharing Stories that matter in The Hague, where I will be observing and experiencing the day to create an after story - so do allow me interview you!