"A Dress Experience for Girls, Inspired by Girls, Helping Girls"
Helping Girls. As you might imagine, there’s a story here, and I’d like to share it.
From the very moment the fire was lit and the iSparkle journey began, there was no doubt that giving back would be a foundational aspect of the brand. If you’ve read Our Story, you know that the love for a little girl inspired the iSparkle dress experience. What the story doesn’t reveal, however, is how inspirational that little girl was long before the idea that would become iSparkle.
Before Kylie and Kensley came along, I was probably like most when it comes to processing the many heartbreaking events that occur in the world; specifically, stories of children. I’d see a terrible headline, or article, or the ticker at the bottom of a news channel, and while I knew it was awful, I didn’t truly feel it. Regardless of the story, where it happened, or who it happened to, moments later I’d go on with my day, just like so many others. Its certainly not that people don’t care, but daily life eventually takes over.
Well, that all changed drastically for me when I became a father. Once I experienced the ever-growing love I have for my little girls, and felt that love returned, it became impossible for me to continue to shrug off the tragedies happening to children all over the world. It's hard to fully explain, but these stories started to affect me differently, somewhat like feeling the pain myself as if I was the child or parent involved. Yeah, weird, I know.
I’d often find myself tearing up while reading articles about children being abused, or those who were starving, abandoned, or even worse. More often than not, I wouldn’t be able to shake the emotion for hours, or even days. I started to see these stories through the lens of my own girls, and it was, of course, heartbreaking.
After a while, my emotion morphed into anger. I just couldn’t fathom how anyone could ever deliberately hurt a child. I’m sure everyone thinks that same thing, but again, for me it had turned into more of a feeling. At that time, it wasn’t uncommon for me to dart out of my home office ranting about an enraging article I had just read.
Even worse, I became one of those political Facebook warriors, arguing with anyone and everyone who attempted to make a case for why people shouldn’t help children in need. It didn’t matter what the issue was; whether it was children in poverty, or refugee girls or boys, or any other topic relating to helpless children, I had zero tolerance for excuses as to why people shouldn’t—or couldn’t—help them.
I knew I needed to do something. I couldn’t keep yelling at the walls in my house and arguing with strangers on Facebook. I simply felt that we, as adults, have a duty to protect and help children, without exception. No excuses.
So, I decided to start channeling my emotion into something positive. I needed to start giving back. I needed to act. After months and months of research, I decided to give back in many different ways, most of which focus on helping children in need.
Without going into everything that I am now involved with, the cause I put the most into is with a local community organization known as She Has A Name (SHAN).
SHAN is on a mission to fight human trafficking through education, collaboration, and survivor care. Of all the things I am currently involved in, SHAN is—without a doubt—the closest to my heart.
Years ago, I came across a photo similar to the one below.
photo courtesy of The Birmingham Times
I have to admit—at the time, I knew virtually nothing about human trafficking. Of what little I did know, I certainly had no idea that young girls like this were being trafficked. I’m sure you can imagine that at this stage in my life, a photo like this just tears me apart inside. I imagine it would tear anyone apart.
Even now, as I look at that young girl’s face, I feel my chest start to ache with grief for her and other children like her. That girl is someone’s Kylie. That girl is someone’s Kensley. The thought of something so horrific happening to one of my girls is indescribably painful, and something that no one of any age should be subjected to it.
The work I have done with SHAN has made me feel like I’m making a difference when it comes to the issue of human trafficking, but I believe iSparkle can be a vehicle for me to do even more.
iSparkle will donating a portion of every dress purchase to the She Has A Name organization. SHAN is committed to engaging the community, strengthening partner organizations, and equipping survivors through workforce development. Survivors of human trafficking have a name, nobility, and a narrative. My heart goes out to them all.
A dress experience for girls, inspired by girls, and most importantly, helping girls.