When Life Gives You Lemons
One year ago, I was staring down a personal health crisis – an autoimmune disorder – and the possibility that my professional life was forever compromised. I had to fend off the internal catastrophizing of something that, while overwhelming, could be manageable – if only I could get outside myself. Through that adversity, Fashionkind was born.
It was just an idea, to support other women in need. But how? My heart was called to be an advocate for victims of addiction. It is a family disease, to which I lost my sister (who was also my best friend). In fact, most of my friends and family have struggled with substance abuse at some point. Or lost the battle entirely.
I also knew firsthand the depth of the stigma. Addiction sufferers are rarely welcomed back into a society that fails to trust in their reform. Without this reintegration, a return to destructive habits is inevitable. But what if…
What if – once someone has cleared their body and mind of harmful substances, what if they had the opportunity to recover their relationship with the outside world. What if someone believed in them. Wouldn’t they be more likely to believe in themselves? Upon recognizing their own value, perhaps they could establish loving bonds, embrace responsibility, and contribute to a world in which they feel a sense of belonging.
I’ve always felt the transformative power of clothing. For me, it’s a mood-lifter and a means of self-expression. When returning to the workforce, it’s a necessity to look and feel polished and presentable. With nothing but a storage unit and a single volunteer (my son Daniel), I established a workspace for sorting clothing donations.
It began with pop-up shops for women in sober living residences so they could get interview clothing at no charge, along with a little encouragement. An outfit here and there, we were barely functional at first, but the real value was in the connections I was making to these women, any one of whom could have been my sister. Slowly, I felt less alone in my own struggle. Through helping them, I could feel my own healing take place.
A Lot Can Happen in a Year
Fashionkind has since blossomed into more than just an idea. We now have a store, a supportive environment for women in recovery, a stream of caring volunteers, and a movement toward never giving up hope.
I may have wished but I never could have imagined the positive reception that Fashionkind has received and the progress we have made.
I couldn’t have done this without the support of everyone in my life who believed in me. Thank you all. Never give up hope!
Johannah Warren, Founder
About the Author
Johannah Warren is a San Diego-based writer, speaker, and nonprofit founder. Areas of interest include narrative nonfiction, human potential, and addiction recovery.