Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hey there! My name is Christina, I am the owner/ co-founder of Citizen&Darling! I also work as a bartender full time, was born and raised in Southern California, and have been happily married for two years. I originally was pursuing a degree in psychology which is what I went to school for, however that started to change when my long time friend Karina exposed me to human trafficking and its connection to fashion. I had grown up with a passion to help those in need, and had thought throughout high school and college it would be in the form of both counseling, as well as mission trips and global ministry. The more we researched the epidemic of human trafficking, the more my heart broke to pursue something that would make a lasting impact in Los Angeles. Karina went to school for fashion, and wanted to find a way to intersect ethical fashion with awareness about human trafficking, and after a year of brainstorming, we finally launched Citizen&Darling in 2015.
What exactly is Citizen & Darling?
Citzen&Darling is an ethical apparel line designed to help fight human trafficking. We are a Los Angeles based small business ran by me, Christina. We help fight human trafficking by donating a small percent of our sales to our six non-profit partners, bringing awareness to human trafficking through social media, and our website, as well as provide ethical apparel that helps slow down the demand on slave labor. We always strive to choose graphics that inspire hope, identity restoration, value, and purpose, and focus on the life giving possibilities of freedom..
What inspired you to start Citizen & Darling?
Karina and I were inspired to start Citizen&Darling because we felt the market needed more affordable ethical apparel that made you feel good from the inside out. We were both deeply affected by the statistics of human trafficking in Los Angeles, and California, and wanted to connect others with what was going on in the world, through using something that also bred creativity and style in a tangible way.
How did you come up with the name?
Our name, Citizen&Darling was inspired by the idea of trafficking victims not usually having a place to call home, a solid identity of who they are- so we chose Citizen as one word to represent the identity you have in Christ. Theres this constant thread throughout scripture of belonging into the kingdom of God- as adopted sons and daughters, and we just thought it made so much sense. Darling comes from a similar place, of how God looks at his children- we are deeply loved, as His Darlings.
Where are your products sold? Are they sold in stores?
For the time being, our store is run 100% online, with the exception of pop-up shops and market places we take part in. You can find our shop at CitizenandDarling.com
What is your favorite part about running Citizen & Darling?
I think my favorite part about running C&D would be connecting with our customers/ followers. The responses we receive from our designs or the impact it can make on someone. I have met some incredible people through this company, and the heart people have has brought me a lot of joy but also hope for a future of a slave-free Los Angeles.
What is your least favorite part about running Citizen & Darling?
My least favorite part would be at times feeling limited to how much I can get done for the company in a day/ week/ month. I have so many ideas and aspirations, but sometimes it can be challenging having a full time job at the same time. I hope in the future to be able to do C&D full time, and possibly expand to having a team to make our impact even greater.
Is there a favorite product?
Thats a hard one- I of course am biased, but I really love all of our designs. I find myself wearing our Beloved Tee and Darling hat the most often, because they are just such good staples for any occasion. I wear both to the gym, but also dress them up for going out. I love products that can last throughout all seasons, and thats what we strive to accomplish with our designs.
Your clothing helps fight human trafficking, can you tell us about that?
So to go into a little further detail on how we fight trafficking- we donate 10% of each design to a different partnering non-profit. Our partners are non profits around the country who are making huge impact around the world against trafficking. Our partners are Freedom&Fashion, A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission, RestoreOne, ZoeInternational, & Saving Innocence. They each have different focuses that have either inspired a design or we felt held represent one. This year I will be focusing our blog more on prevention and aftercare, as well as go deeper into our partners and why we chose them. We also choose ethically made (sweatshop free) blanks for our T’s and hat’s, to help promote slave free products, as well as transparency in production. We use a local screen printer, and ship/ design everything ourselves.
How do you spread the word about your company?
We’ve had a good amount of success using social media, as well as taking part in collaborations with like minded brands. There are so many amazing anti-trafficking companies out there, and I feel fortunate to be in a community of those brands who are always willing to help raise each other up, and connect for our mission any way we can. Posting in each others products, hosting giveaways, and just keeping content fresh has been the best way we’ve been able to borden our audience.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
I think the best advice I can give is to have grace for yourself. If you have a product or business in mind that you want to launch or expand, be prepared to laugh off a lot of mistakes and learn a lot of lessons about yourself, but also not to give up on pursuing what you believe in. Just because your company doesn’t look like everyone elses, or take off right away that doesn’t mean you wont be successful. Its such a good life experience to operate a business, and is absolutely rewarding in so many ways.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?
Thats also a hard one haha! I have so many little things that remind me to press on. Some of the more simple but so true ones would be out of scripture- a command in the book of Micah, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?”. That to me is such a strong call to stand up for justice, and to deeply love others. I have to say, its hard to ignore something like that. I also think a lot of quotes about how its not the destination, its the journey. Its important to have vision when you have a company, but its also so important to recognize success doesn’t have to mean expanding, or becoming a big business. Of course every brand would love to grow- as would I, but the internal growth can sometimes be so much more worth it then the external. There is no “arrival” really, but a constant challenge to help others and also be transformed in the process.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I love connecting with new followers and friends, so please feel free to reach out and say hello! If you are in the greater Los Angeles area, check out any upcoming events we may have! Thank you so much!