In this edition of Newbie in Nashville – I want to tell you about a place I recently did a story about. It’s called Fashionable – and not only is it a beautiful boutique with fashion-forward and gorgeous merchandise (bags, jewelry, clothes!) but the products are all made by women who have overcome.
At first glance, Fashionable boutique is like any other retail shop, but then you hear the story about the merchandise and where it came from. “This is our Joslyn sandal, it’s named after one of the women in Peru we work with,” says Barrett Ward, the founder and CEO of Fashionable.
That’s when your perspective on the chic boutique changes. The concept behind Fashionable was created by Barrett Ward, when he was living in Ethiopia with his wife, who is a social worker. They saw the heartbreaking reality there first-hand. “We started seeing young girls and young women waiving to us on the street and we didn’t know why. Eventually we found out they were soliciting sex,” says Ward. “The bottom line, really why we started Fashionable was we were working with women who came out of the commercial sex industry.”
Then Ward and his family moved to Nashville, where their desire to help others only grew. “We kept hearing from them, we love the rehabilitation we appreciate the charity but at the end of the day when we finish this process we still don’t have a job, we still don’t have a skill on the other side. So I said, I wanted to get active in the solution-side not the Band-Aid side, but the long term solutions to poverty,” says Ward.
That long-term solution is a job, and that’s where Fashionable comes in. “How we start the process with women is we visit the places where they come from like Hope Center, Magdalen Center and we do crafts with them, like jewelry and if we see women who are attracted to that we tell them there is an opportunity for them,” says Ward.
Everything sold by Fashionable is made by hand, by women who have overcome. They make clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags and soon, denim. They go through training and then set up shop in the back of the boutique. Barbara Pitts is one of those women.
“I primarily do soldering, but a little bit of everything,” says Pitts.
Barbara’s dream was never to make jewelry. In fact, for a while, she didn’t really have a dream at all. “I struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for many years until it got to the point it took everything I had away from me, including my daughter,” says Pitts. “I lost custody of my daughter. I just knew at that point something had to change.”
Pitts went through the program at the Nashville Rescue Mission. She turned her life around and got her daughter back. But then, like many women in her position, she needed a job. “It’s also really hard also to find a job when you have different convictions. People look at your past and judge you but Fashionable doesn’t do that,” she says.
Now Barbara is “able” to provide for her family in a safe, creative space. She’s found her home, where she turns nothing into something beautiful. Her job, much like her life story. “It really is ashes to beauty. You turn out this beautiful piece of jewelry.”
Fashionable is open for shopping at their location on Centennial Boulevard or you can shop online here. If you are a woman interested in a job, just stop by the store.
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
Barrett Ward is the type of guy you could sit and talk to for hours. He’s fascinating and super charming. His passion is contagious, and it’s almost immediately clear this guy has a heart of gold. He wants to make this world a better place, and he’s doing it by helping women all over the world. He’s surrounded himself with incredible women, of course at work, but also at home. He’s the proud husband of a social worker and the father of 4 daughters! Barrett and his wife are truly leading by example.
FASHIONABLE is located at Stocking 51, 5022 Centennial Boulevard in Nashville.