After two years of working for myself I can proudly say that I’ve become a monster. I can think of no better way to take on my crippling control issues than emersion therapy. This will be my first fashion week presenting a collection in which I am not responsible for every stitch and brushstroke. It’s unnerving to be judged for someone else’s work. However, I know full well that as I am sending six foot tall beanpoles down the runway this September what will make me smile are the memories of these girls giggling and dancing in jumpsuits too tall for them.

We’ve been sewing for three days now and have completed four jumpsuits! The girls actually asked if we could work overnight…it only took traveling to the other side of the planet to find my people. Working with these girls reminds me of how much joy and passion I had when I started making outfits for myself before school (don’t worry, the joy still runs deep). They’re all so eager to try on the finished jumpsuits it’s like passing around a bottle of Chardonnay at book club. I won’t share the finished product with you because we have to leave some surprises for Paris Fashion Week but here’s a look at the sketches and works in progress.

Today we took the day off sewing and I spoke to a group of students at the Elimu resource center about the magic that is Tom Foolery. As a designer my comfort zone is behind the scenes, shine a light on me and I shrink up faster than an eskimo’s scrotum. Despite my profuse sweating, several students raised their hands at the end when asked if they wanted to become designers. As I sit here finishing my night with cake and beer I can assure it really is as glamorous as it sounds.

The most encouraging questions were about the use of recycled bottles for fabric. Many students expressed bottles and littering was a rampant issue in Malindi and want to be a part of changing that. I may have my first recruit for collections. Anyone have connections to recycling centers? Let’s get this ball rolling!

The students have an incredible work ethic and it was exciting to see them so inspired by the idea of turning trash into something useful.

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Shannon AshfordComment