The Warrior Mother and Charity Fashionista Sista.

I was a fashion mad kid growing up in the Midlands in the 1970’s – a great year for flamboyancy and creativity as long as you didn’t mind the acres of static fabric and itchy glitter.  Top Of The Pops was the weekly highlight and I’d gage the latest trends via Pans People, and by the time I hit my teens I was a punk/mod/rude girl depending on what pieces I’d picked up at the local jumble sale and hand sewn into something far away from the maker’s original intention.  My mates loved the music scene which offered us an alternative to our small town life, and re-creating the fashions gave me a distraction from a home life that would probably best be described as troubled.

 

Cut (pin and sew) to the 90s and the jumbles have been replaced by a top London retailer that teaches me about textiles, styling, merchandising, and how to work every hour of living daylight.  10 years fashion forward and I’m expecting my first child – alone.

Overnight, motherhood changed me. I grew a conscience and no more would I be a designer sample sale wearing hedonist tripping around the capital.  I was a warrior mother in survival mode and the future and safety of the world mattered.

I headed to Devon for sanctuary by the sea.  But five years on, floundering for work in a small town, I had to heartfully consider what I could do to earn a crust which would fit in with my new surroundings, and add some benefit to my new community.  Charity shops?

I thought back through my career and knew that as long as I was surrounded by fabric and friends I would be happy.  Turning 50 this year, I reflect with gratitude for this love of fashion that has served me, giving me the opportunity to help a forward thinking trustee board of a local charity raise their profile and increase revenue streams by opening boutique style charity shops for them, the first of their kind in North Devon.

I’m back in fashion and re-cycling again, only now I’m at a kind of jumble every day, and I find the most rewarding part of the job is not sorting through the impulse buys, the bobbly primarks from the occasional Prada, the Tu PJs and the faded vintage wedding dresses that make you coo, but working with the volunteers that gift their time and love to help run the shops.  Kind, generous people, who make up our band of merry up-cyclers from all walks of life, connected by the threads of our stories, bringing and sharing the fabric of our lives and in so doing, supporting our community.

Love will never be out of fashion.

Alessia

Alessia works for North Devon Against Domestic Abuse – a charity dedicated to keeping families safe and relationships healthy.

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