Dear Carol. You're on to something. This isn't about peddling Capri pants or selling sweaters...although I really like my soft new poppy cardigan. -> And, I am not sure if you let anyone else in on your secret…but I am on to you.
For so long it felt wrong. Some women don't have shoes. Why should I get the luxury of beautiful clothes? I know now that it really isn't about the clothes (even though they are beautiful). It's bigger than that and if makes me love you and your business even more.
This is going to start with a big admission; it must in order for the rest of this post to make sense. During most of my life, I've cared too much about what people think of me. I wish I hadn't felt this way since I could walk, but I have. It's just a trait but I’m learning to see it in a positive way instead of a negative way. And, I'm learning to not care about what others think or see but only what God sees.
I've been journeying with God and myself for years to find peace with me and only me. I've got to be at peace with who I am and whose I am. I am more confident in this peace internally and yet (because I am a human being), I have continued to struggle externally. We all have baggage and I remember the jokes about my outward pale appearance as a kid (I'm a survivor of melanoma now, so pale comes with a victory label these days). I honestly wish I hadn't cared what others thought about me for all those years. All I ever wanted was to be comfortable in my own skin.
Anyway, one area I've not ever felt confident in (continuing into adulthood) is "dressing up." I have mastered the outdoor look (my family loves to hike, camp, etc.), I love my workout clothes (yoga is the best pastime ever), casual wear is very popular at the non-profits where I spend much of my time and I can rock pajamas until noon (freelancing from home part-time does have perks).
The mission congregation I serve puts me in an environment that doesn't allow some to buy groceries, let alone buy new clothes. In the past, it felt silly and very #firstworld to get excited about new clothes. But, I realized when journeying with many of my friends who don't have much at all that it wasn't even about looking beautiful, it was about feeling beautiful. Fortunately for me, God brought a little peace to my closet a few years ago, peace that helped me feel beautiful. I met my friend Heather who taught me all about your line, she helped me feel so much more confident in my own style. She taught me that I didn't have to lose my comfortable style to feel dressed up and presentable. She helped me realize that I could combine my love for thrift store bargains with some amazing pieces from CAbi. She even gave me permission to not stress over shoes so I began pairing my outfits with my beloved Birkenstock shoes and easy to slip-on TOMS. Up until this point in my life, I'd always thought, "oh well, I can't wear that, I don't have the right shoes."
You see, there are reasons I don't have lots of shoe choices. And, that ties back to a stroke that affected my gait in my early 30s. But, that no longer holds me back as much as it once did (I completed a half-marathon and two sprint triathlons last year to celebrate - YAY!). I think I just like to keep things simple and let's be honest - heels really intimidate me! I've never felt confident in anything that requires physical grace. But, I can now feel beautiful in my flats and my tennis shoes. Anyway, I have had so much fun getting to know CAbi and myself and coming to peace with my wardrobe. Since discovering CAbi, I've had two friends join the team, Stephanie and Mishalene. I love cheering them on and spreading my love for this great line of clothes (uh, I mean cause) that has done much more for me than add to my closet.
Anyway, back to my point of this post to you! I recently found out the night before an event I was to attend that I wouldn't just be fading into the background and helping, but would be part of the agenda and on the stage. And, no one cares what I wear nor would they remember but I panicked for a moment and then remembered I had you in my closet. Before CAbi, an absolute meltdown could have ensued. However, this time, I already knew what I'd be wearing and not because I have a huge wardrobe. I just didn't stress it, I had peace with me and peace in my own skin. That's what you're offering women - the confidence, beauty, and peace to be themselves.
I've begun cleaning out a closet full of "trying to fit in" clothes and now simply fill it up with "what's me." My spiritual journey of finding out who I am has been happening for several years. And, the physical journey is evolving as well. So, consider this what you will - a "fashion testimony" of sorts. I am thanking my friends Heather, Stephanie and Mishalene for helping other women become comfortable in their own skin, find their style, and be confident in who God made them to be. Even if doing so is while wearing a pair of canvas shoes that do more for others than they do for my arches.
After all, it isn't really what I wear, it is how I wear it (and that's your secret). CAbi has taught me that whether my clothes are hand-me-downs or top of the line fit from a designer like you, it's the lessons I've learned that are important. I am becoming comfortable in my own skin, both inside and out. And, your CAbi girls have been a part of that evolution! Keep on giving back to women please, Carol. Keep investing in them through your foundation, through your opportunity for income, success and business, for fun and fellowship with other women, but mostly for helping women like me feel like the beautiful person that God made each of us to be (no matter what we're wearing).
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC