Hope for 2018

The moment you insult your fellow citizen, your fellow human being,
is the moment you silence yourself.

Snowflakes

Deplorables

Bigot

Libtard

Ignorant

Misogynist

Redneck

Hippie

Intolerant

Repugnican

Elitist

Racist

 

We all do it.  We insult each other.  We disrespect each other.  We do not value each other.  

I’ve done it.  The events leading up to the 2016 election made me more angry than I can ever remember being, on almost a daily basis.  I was so blinded by anger and fear and sometimes hatred that I could hardly have a rational argument.  Let alone, one in which I would actually listen to the other side.  I was guilty of being fueled by headlines, sharing news on Facebook and completely jumping to conclusions.  I’m pretty certain we are all guilty of these things.  

The saddest part for me has been reading the comments in the Facebook threads.  The insults.  The hate.  The blame.  It not only made me sad, but angry.  Most of the comments and conversations were fueled by hatred for the people from the opposing party.  Most of the arguments involved name calling with not much substance to back up WHY they believed what they believed.  Why?  Maybe everyone seems to be so attached to their party, that they’re willing to excuse behaviors affiliated with it.  A lot of this had to do with, I imagine, the lack of choices.  If you don’t have good choices, of course you are going to side with the party you are in general agreement with.  I get it.  But we need more REAL options than this 2 party system has offered.  We are a melting pot, and to lump us into two categories makes no logical sense.  

What baffles me, is that we don’t try to change this.  I do not EVER want to say, I’m a Republican or I’m a Democrat.  Because, I’m not.  I refuse to be attached to a party in which my morals are compromised because I am so loyal to it.  I’m a human being.  An American citizen.  I want the best for the PEOPLE in this country.  I want the best for HUMANITY.  

I digress…  Most of what I want to say is in reference to our respect and compassion for each other.  Or, perhaps, lack there of.  I've noticed, some people are getting upset that everyone has to be so politically correct.  Asking, why you can't just speak your mind without someone being offended?  It saddens me, because I feel that you can always speak your mind without devaluing someone.  We are all capable of making our point in a way that doesn’t insult someone, but shows dignity and respect.  And why shouldn’t we respect our fellow citizen?  Our fellow human being?  

Don’t we all want to live a happy and healthy life in which we have everything we need?  

Don’t we all want to avoid a financial struggle?

Don’t we all want equal opportunities?

Don’t we all want to be valued and respected?

Don’t we all go on the defense when we are called names?  

It is impossible to have a rational conversation when you have been devalued.  You can’t get your point across when you’re insulting someone, and they can’t get their point across when you’ve been insulted.  So I ask all of you, if you have a point to make, do it with kindness.  Talk to your neighbor and figure out how the opposing side thinks.  Why have they come to that conclusion?  Do either of you REALLY have the facts?  Why ARE you on opposing sides?  Maybe you really aren’t…  Have a real conversation with an OPEN MIND and a kind heart.  

Lately, news has been popping up, and out of nowhere, I was no longer angry when an issue arose that did not align with my values.  My immediate reaction was not to protest or get angry, but to research.  I think, what do people from opposing sides think?  What do the local people think that are truly affected?  What is really happening with this change and how will it affect the locals, businesses, the economy, the state and the country?  

As we all know, “Fake News” is the new hip thing to say and blame.  And in certain cases, rightfully so.  But how do we find honest sources?  How do we know what is real?  Digging deep takes time and energy.  I find that reading news from all sides is a good way to figure things out.  The only thing I know for sure...opinion pieces ARE NOT NEWS.  They are NOT FACTS.  Please don’t just find a headline or an article you agree with and believe it to be true.  

I’m sure there are specific things we all think we know and understand.  But do we understand these topics enough to actually have an opinion?  There were times when I would be having a conversation with my husband, I would say something and then think...is that the truth or is it just something I’ve heard or been told and now I believe it to be a fact?  Taxes, healthcare, the economy in general, these are complicated topics I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand, no matter how much research I do.  Because, I simply don’t have the education, I was educated, but not on economics.  To fully understand something that is so complicated is a bit rare.  Being involved in those subjects because of your work, and having studied what as happened historically would give you a great base knowledge to form an opinion.  

I simply ask you to have some humility.  None of us are all-knowing.  

Know that...

It’s ok not to have an opinion on a topic you don’t fully understand.  

It’s ok to debate with someone with different opinions.  

It’s ok not to know the answer.  

It’s ok to agree with someone whom you don’t usually agree with.

It’s ok to not agree and move on.

It’s ok to be wrong.

It’s ok to admit you’re wrong.

It’s ok to be embarrassed to find out you were wrong.

It’s ok to change your opinion as you learn.

It’s ok to not agree with your party.

It’s ok to hold someone accountable for their actions.

When I went to college and started to form my own opinions, I began doing my own research and asked a million questions.  That is when the trouble started for me.  I usually had different opinions from my closest family members that I loved and admired so dearly.  There were many times in in my younger years when I was ready for a debate, a conversation, so I could learn.  I wasn’t treated very nicely for challenging them.  I was told I was too young, too naive, I just wasn’t credible because I hadn’t lived long enough, I just didn’t understand.  It was an eye opener.  This is when I realized, you don’t talk about politics or religion.  A sad day indeed.  How else can we learn and grow if we don’t talk to each other?  Yes, my family members were older, had more life experiences and of course lots of reasons why they believed what they believed and I respect that.  But unfortunately, my opinion usually wasn’t valued.  And, I wasn't trying to debate to be RIGHT, I wanted to debate to LEARN.  Being valued for talking through things you can't always understand is one of the most productive learning experiences in life.  No one has to be RIGHT.  Just having that conversation and being taken seriously would have empowered me to keep asking questions.   In my experience, one of the most beautiful things in life, is having conversations with people who believe differently and are of a different generation.  You never know what you will learn from someone 20 years older or younger or living a completely different life from yours.  

I’ve learned that as I grow, I am of course, more opinionated, as I think we all are.  There are certain things I know I probably won’t change my mind about.  And sometimes I have to tell myself that I need to keep an open mind, and not settle on an opinion.  I hope I can maintain this!  To be set in my ways would be counter productive.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  We don’t stop learning after school ends.  The world is constantly learning, changing and evolving.  Shouldn’t we do the same?  

So, I wanted to write this, not only to reach out to my family, friends and peers, but to get it off my chest.  

For myself.  

I’ve been silent about a lot of things lately because my opinions differ from people I love.

I’ve been silent because I don’t want to damage my relationships with those people.  

I’ve been silent because I don’t want to jeopardize my business.  

I’ve been silent because I’m scared.  

I’ve been silent because I don’t always know the facts.  

I’ve been silent because I’m tired.  Tired of fighting.  Tired of that nervous knot in my stomach.  Tired of the hate.  Tired of being devalued for my opinion. 
 

I no longer want to be silent.  
 

I’ve learned so much, just in the past 2 years.  I’ve grown and am starting to step back and observe, rather than getting caught up in the argument that will just remain an argument because everyone is insulting each other.  This is a big deal for me, because I’m a fighter.  I always have been.  I will scream until I’m blue in the face to fight for what is right.  

But I’m not going to scream anymore.  

I’m going to do better.  

I’m going to try to forgive people that demean and devalue human beings.  

I’m going to try to see through my fellow citizen’s eyes and understand why they have their beliefs.  

I’m going to fight for what I believe is morally right.

I’m going to do better.

I’m going to do better, even if you don’t try to do better.

I’m going to value your opinion, even if you don’t value mine.

I’m going to fight for my fellow citizens, even if they don’t fight for me.

I’m going to love you, even if you don’t love me.  

 

I challenge all of you to approach 2018 with kindness and love for your neighbors.

I challenge you to LISTEN.  Not to just listen to respond, so you can voice your opinion.

I challenge all of us to work together so everyone can enjoy a happy, healthy life.  

I challenge you to be a better neighbor and to have empathy.  

I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone with an open mind.

I challenge all of us to be better people.  

 

Happy New Year!
xo
-Rachelle

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The Path to Sustainability

Here in Laramie, I've met some of the most incredible women I've even known.  Growing up, I always gravitated towards men.  I've always had more guy friends.  I just felt like I always had more fun with them.  No drama, he said, she said bullshit, no jealousy and competition...they just got me.  But, I always had about 2-3 close girlfriends in my life.  That was about my limit.  And now, everything has changed!  I don't know what it is about the women that have planted themselves here in Laramie, but I LOVE THEM!  

Everywhere I've lived, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Italy, South Carolina...I felt like I didn't really belong.  Sure, I had some friends (some amazing ones too) and always tried to make the best of the relationships and what was happening in my life.  But I never felt like I was meant to be there for the long haul.  I also felt like there were these clicks or groups that I didn't quite fit in with.  And if I was invited to hang out with them, it was sometimes made clear that I was at the bottom of the totem pole.  And I never understood it.  I've had incredible life experiences that I'm really proud of, I'm an artist, I've traveled the world, but I never felt like I was enough.  And I'm usually pretty easy to connect with, and of course hilarious ;)  

I know I'm rambling, but bare with me!  Back to Laramie!  So I landed here because, I fell in love with Wyoming the first time I crossed the border and I fell in love with my husband (who is a native).  I am a small town girl and Laramie seemed pretty perfect right off the bat.  I began developing my business and before I knew it, I was "in".  I would meet someone and they would say, "oh wow, you're a designer!  That's so great, we are so happy to have a Fashion Designer in Laramie!  Have you met (insert incredible person's name here)?"  This happened over and over and is STILL happening.  For the first time in my life. I felt like I belonged.  And not just fit in, but was welcomed with open arms.  Instead of, "oh you're an artist....well you aren't quite cool enough to play with us."  It was, "YES! You are here, come play with us immediately!"  

Back to the incredible women... This is the first time I've not felt the need to be competitive or jealous.  I know, I know...why would I ever feel that way in the first place?  Because our culture breeds us to be this way and it's one of the worst things about being a woman in America.  Especially when you are immersed in the fashion industry in NYC... we are trained to believe perfection is achievable, that thin is the only way to be beautiful and the way to lift yourself up is to put someone down.  In Laramie, I've meet an incredible amount of women entrepreneurs or women who are just totally kicking ass in every way.  The best part is, they reach out, they show up to support you, and no matter what you are going through, they are there to tell you you are worth it, amazing, and that you can do it.  Whether it is in our Facebook group, Uplift & Inspire, or at our monthly gatherings, whoever can show up, shows up and we motivate each other.  

So, through the group, we decided to celebrate on International Women's Day with a TedTalk style event.  We had 6 women speak with the theme, Behind the Facade:  The Real Story of My Business.  It was SO. AMAZING.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered.  It was an emotional roller coaster, and so nice to know that other business owners have had struggles too.  That they weren't afraid to share, they owned it and are still moving forward.  We can all deceive and be deceived with a lovely photo and whimsical quote through social media, leading us to believe that the life of a women in business is all butterflies and rainbows.  That's bullshit.  Yeah, we put our best face forward and show the best of what we have to offer.  But the journey is never glamorous and that is just fine.  

So I was one of the speakers and I wanted to share my talk here.  Because it tells a brief history and the road to sustainability for my business.  

"I’m going to tell you a story that I’m not entirely proud of…

Throughout my life I’ve always had an inner struggle with the Fashion Industry.  I have a passion for fashion, creating it & using it to express myself and my values.  However, during my time in FIT I started to disagree and dislike some of the superficial qualities of the industry.  The resentment set in and it led to my rebellion.  My hippie phase.

I began only buying 2nd hand, I wore long skirts and unflattering tops with no bra, ever.  I bought organic and natural cosmetics, ate local foods, burned nag champa and danced barefoot to folk music.  After years of preaching to friends and family about using better products, recycling, and in general, just giving a shit about the planet, my enthusiasm faded with their lack of interest in switching up their routine.  So, I set aside my long flowing skirts, put on my big girl pants and started to conform.  I still kept a lot of my old habits, but I stopped preaching. My life took a number of turns and I eventually found my soulmate here in Laramie.  He told me he wanted me to pursue my dream...to be a Fashion Designer.  FULL TIME!  So, I started developing my business and before i knew it, I was in the midst of creating my  FW15 collection.  I was finally proud of what I was doing. That first year, I was thrilled that my business made a profit!  With 2015’s motivation, and a new year on the horizon,  I was finally ready to execute a collection I’d dreamed about for the past 5 years, inspired by my first road trip out west.  In the meantime I applied and was accepted to the Western Design Conference in Jackson.  I was going to debut my FW16 collection at the fashion show there!  That summer I worked my ass off, 12 hrs a day.  I became a manufacturer.  I cut design after design and began throwing the scraps in a pile on the floor.  All along I’d been reusing scraps or donating them,  but it was nagging away at me.  And in the midst of living my dream, I had a breakdown.  I stared at the pile of waste I’d created and cried.  What had I done?  I was so busy pursuing my dream of being a designer that I had selfishly forgotten the inspiration that led me to this dream collection, Mother Earth.  At that point, I barely wanted to even finish the collection or go to the show.  How can I promote myself and my business if I’m only contributing to this incredible problem?  Danial found me distraught and calmed me down, pushed me to move forward, reassuring me that I would find a way to make use of what felt like a 100ft pile of waste.  So I kept going.  The show in Jackson was a flop.  I barely held myself together and I came home wanting to dig myself into a hole with my debt of over $5000.  I knew then, it’s time to change.  So I began focusing on building a sustainable business plan. I didn’t know how or what I would do, but that fate would have it’s way.  

This story may not seem to be that bad, so you have a pile of wasted textiles?  So what?  Well… I’ll give you some facts...

The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world ... second only to oil.  Thanks to the Fast Fashion Movement (think H&M, Forever 21…)  The average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste per year. That’s about 11 million tons a year, in our country alone.  Not to mention the harsh chemicals used to produce textiles. Did you know it takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton & to produce 1 pair of jeans?  Then there are harmful dyes being used, and you are wearing them against your skin, the biggest organ in your body.  And of course, synthetic fibers that take 100s if not 1000s of years to biodegrade.  I’m not even scratching the surface of slave labor, who is sewing the clothing? Who is producing the fabric?  How much do they get paid and what are the working conditions like for them?  It’s all overwhelming!

Now you are all thinking, oh no what do I do?!  Don’t panic!  Yes, we do need to be responsible consumers, but take it one day, one purchase at a time.  Here are some helpful hints.  

  1. Do take some time to research local and sustainable brands.  It’s imperative that we support small businesses that are making a huge impact.  This is how we can force high fashion brands to change their practices.   

  2. Know your style and buy accordingly.  Forget the damn trends, they are developed by people drawing you into consumerism.  Dress for your lifestyle and own it!  Buy something you will wear for the next 10 years.  

  3. Buy the best quality you can afford.  Know that sustainable fashion is a privilege, it is not cheap, so save up to buy something you can be proud to wear.  Think of every garment as an investment.  Buy a story that is aligned with your values.  

And as Vivienne Westwood says, "Buy less, Choose well and Make it last."

So, I read a book written by a dear friend of mine. In it he says, "I realized that there would be times in our lives when there would be higher causes to pursue than our own individual goals.  I think that in order to live according to our ideals and values, sometimes we do have to sacrifice our own self-interests and defer to the greater good and well-being of our families and our country."  -Martin Bravo  

I have carried this with me in developing a new direction for Rachelle Rose Designs.  

With that, I ask you to become an active citizen through your wardrobe and ask yourself, what do I value?"

Getting this off of my chest and owning my mistakes and failures was so good for me.  And, incredible to feel so supported by my piers.  It was an emotional experience to say the least.  Not to mention that they are thinking about what I said and are trying to be more mindful of their clothing purchases.  My heart is full!  

At the end I announced my new path to a sustainable fashion business.  My husband, Danial and I are going to start raising alpacas for fiber this spring!  I'll be using all natural (sustainable) fibers, implementing zero waste design & natural dyes.  And I'm going to take my time this year to experiment and develop clothing I love that is aligned with my values.  Something I can be truly be proud to put my name on.  Instead of following all of the rules of the fashion industry, I'm going to produce what I want, how I want, and in whatever time frame that fits with my lifestyle.  I've never been one for rules, so I'm rebelling against the industry yet again. 

I'm in the process of experimenting with Wyoming wool and I wanted to create something that made me happy.  That makes people laugh and smile, because, well, it's just silly.  So here is my first fun piece for a spring art show I did here in Laramie.  It's wet felted and needle felted.  I call it, "Wacky Alpacy".  

Stay connected during my journey to a sustainable Rachelle Rose Designs!

Progressions of the Earth

Fall/Winter 2016 Collection

Progressions of the Earth

This collection is truly from my heart.  I've been dreaming about this collection for 5 years.  

Grand Teton Top, Black Sand Basin Pants, Biscuit Basin Top, Granite Pants

I was inspired to create these pieces when I first traveled to the West.  I left Charleston, SC after selling almost everything I owned, packed up my Xterra and traveled the country alone.

 It was then, when I first fell in love with Wyoming.  Each drive I took, from Wyoming westward was magical.  The dreamy landscapes and textures from nature kept me thinking about fabrics.  I eventually found a way to turn the photos I took on that journey, into the fabrics you see here. 

Yellowstone Dress

Each garment is named from a place I visited on my journey.  

Yosemite Jumpsuit

New Orleans Dress

Adobe Tower Fall Dress

Biscuit Basin Top, Granite Pants

Grand Teton Top, Black Sand Basin Pants

Encampment Jacket

Tower Fall Dress

Painted Hills Jacket & Wamsutter Skirt

San Francisco Pants & Biscuit Basin Tee

Adobetown

Denver

Charleston Gown

Spring/Summer 2016 Collection

Spring is finally here!  We are happy to introduce the SS16 Collection!  

I'd like to thank BHP Imaging for the beautiful photos.

I'd also like to thank my intern, Alex Nelson for styling the shoot and for working for me this year.  This was her last day working with me and I'll be sad not to have her around anymore.  Best wishes Alex, you have a bright future ahead!

Lastly, thanks to Brenna for her modeling skills! 

These last two dresses are made from vintage polyester.  Mixing new styles with old fabrics.

View the full collection HERE

The Curiosity Shoppe

We are so happy to introduce, the official place to buy Rachelle Rose Designs in Laramie, Wyoming;  The Curiosity Shoppe!

The Curiosity Shoppe has been part of Historic Downtown Laramie for 35 years.  They offer a wide variety of products from local artists and national brands.  You can find the perfect gift for a loved one and will most always walk away with something for yourself too! 

They call it a shopping adventure, and it truly is one!  I've spent quite a few hours in this store shopping for gifts and not even realized it.  It's an experience, not just a store.  

Laramie prides itself on its community and encourages shopping small with local businesses.  The Curiosity Shoppe makes it so easy!  I bought many Christmas presents last year, and came back for more.  

The owner, Alec has a talent for creating a beautiful store and has impeccable taste to create a unique, memorable shopping experience.  When he spoke of incorporating clothing into the mix, we were thrilled that he picked us!  

Alec not only wants to have women's clothing, but handmade, one-of-a-kind looks that you can't buy anywhere else in town.  He sets a high standard for his store, and Rachelle Rose Designs is thrilled to parter with The Curiosity Shoppe!

Shop the Fall/Winter Collection today!  Check back often to find new, must-have pieces that your closet needs.  

Did we mention that all pieces are one-of-a-kind?  Get your favorite piece now before it's gone!

They have one, perfect University of Wyoming game day dress that no one else will have!

The Curiosity Shoppe is located at 206 South 2nd Street (between Grand & Ivinson)  They are open, Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm.  Contact them: 307-745-4401 or on Facebook.  Follow their Instagram @thecuriosityshoppe

Homestead Collection in the Laramie Plains

Rachelle Rose Designs did another photoshoot with BHP Imaging!   I really wanted to get photos of this collection out in the Wyoming landscape.  I had tons of ideas for locations, however the weather didn't cooperate and we got a ton of snow!  After some scouting we decided to take it to the plains.  Thus, furthering my tribute to Laramie this year! 

I had 3 beautiful, brave models: Dee, Kade & Alex!  They changed in the truck and endured the wind chill.  So thankful they were up for an adventure!

We had an awesome group that all contributed to making these images beautiful, Brian taking rad photos, Nadia from Big Hollow Designs styling with earrings, Dan taking us to these sweet locations, Alex, my intern, styling and modeling along with Dee & Kade. 

Kade, Rachelle, Dee & Alex

Brian, Rachelle, Kade, Dee, Alex & Nadia...Dan is missing!

Check out the full collection HERE and Shop!

Homestead Collection, Fall 2015

My tribute to Laramie, Wyoming!  The Homestead Collection for Fall 2015.  

Settling in Wyoming was like a pipe dream, mostly because I had no idea how I could make a living here doing what I love.  After meeting Danial (my love), long story short, I decided to stay!  He gave me the opportunity to grow my business and do what I love.  He gave me an amazing studio in our house, built me gorgeous wooden tables to work on, and provided me with anything I needed to make my dream come true.  So I went for it!  I have finally made Rachelle Rose Designs my top priority, my career!

Shortly after I started settling in Laramie, I met people.  Told them what I was doing, and each person told me who to talk to & connect with to help me achieve what I wanted for my business. This is part of the reason I love Wyoming so much.  They have the strongest sense of community.  I've never experienced people like this and I'm so grateful to be a part of the Laramie community.  

Here I am, only 10 months later with my first collection!  I've already surpassed all of my goals, I had no idea I would get this far so soon, and I have even bigger goals for next year.  I hope you enjoy the collection and will Shop Small with me this Fall!  

Shop with me!  

11/28 - Small Business Saturday, Downtown Laramie, Main Street Alliance Office, 10am - 5pm

12/4 - UW Holiday Bazaar, Wyoming Union Ballroom, 2nd Floor, 9am-5pm

I want to say a big thank you to my biggest supporters!  Matthew Nichols of Warren FCU, Trey Sherwood of Main Street Alliance, Kim Vincent of Wyoming Women's Business Center, my intern Alex Nelson, Danial Barkhurst and all of my family and friends that cheer me on! 

Photos by Megan Lee Photography

Hair by Bows + Fringe

Earrings by Big Hollow Designs

Corsets Inspired by Menswear

A corset, originally known as stays beginning in the 16th century, is an undergarment constructed with whalebone or metal (now mostly plastic) tightened by lacing, used to constrict or hold a desired shape.  

Throughout the centuries the style of the corset has changed many times.  Originally worn as an undergarment, it is now, mostly worn as a top or bustier.  I could go through the timeline of the corset and what it has morphed into but I’m guessing most of you don’t need the history and I’m sure Wiki would word it much better and I would!

Another project during my studies at Polimoda in Florence, Italy.  We learned how to make Corsets.  This project was inspired by menswear - and then wore them in the Polimoda fashion show!

Me in my Tuxedo inspired corset =)