Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have been married to my husband, Steven, for 12 years and we have 2 sweet girls. Originally from Chattanooga, TN we have made Cleveland, TN our home these past 12 years. I have degree in Sociology, but as a lifelong dancer originally worked full-time out of college teaching dance lessons and running a Creative Arts Academy. It was while I was teaching that I learned how to sew due to the fact that we made a lot of our costumes and I wanted to help. After staying home with my girls for a couple of years and running a small sewing business out of my home, I felt the call to use my skill of sewing to serve other women. My husband and I have always been involved with local and global missions, so I immediately knew the type of women this idea was meant to serve. I began to dream of what the nonprofit would do, who we would serve, and ultimately how we could use sewing to reach women in our community in a fresh, unique way. To see it come to life these past 4 years has been amazing. Everything that has unfolded is beyond what I could have dreamt or imagined. I look forward to the future with much anticipation and excitement!
What exactly is Free 2 Fly?
Project Free2Fly is a nonprofit organization that serves women in our local community (Cleveland, TN area) who are transitioning out of life-altering circumstances such as addiction, crisis pregnancy, homelessness, etc. The women we serve are referred to us from other agencies that are already helping them take the first steps to better their circumstances. We teach them the skill of sewing which acts as a catalyst to life change.
What inspired you to start Free 2 Fly?
The desire to combine my love of sewing with a love for our community inspired me to start Free2Fly. I wanted to be able to start a nonprofit organization that supported other women, but also helped them build a foundation for success and sustainability in the workforce and community. Our desire is to be a bridge from the circumstances they are working to overcome to a successful future.
How did you come up with the name?
It was something that I really thought about for a while and could never settle on anything that worked or I truly loved, so I decided to stop overthinking it. Then one day while I was at my sink doing dishes I suddenly thought of Free2Fly. The name embodied everything I desired for the organization and the women we would serve, so I immediately knew that was it. It was my first lesson is just being obedient to what God is calling me to and trusting that he will give me the wisdom and knowledge. It turns out, the name could not be any more perfect for our organization and our desire for the women we serve.
You support, nurture & empower women; can you tell us about that?
SUPPORT. We support women by teaching them the skill of sewing. Our products are handmade by the women in our program- and the profits are given back to them. They are able to financially contribute to their families while working on short-term and long-term goals that will change the course of their future.
NURTURE. We nurture women by connecting them to mentors who not only teach them how to sew, but also invest in them. Working together, we establish goals for the future and take action. In addition, we connect them to resources such as personal, career and financial counseling.
EMPOWER. We empower women by equipping them with the realization that they can be successful. Upon exiting our program, women have the foundations and tools needed for long-term success and sustainability in the workforce and community.
Is there a favorite product?
Right now, my favorite product we make is the Jean Crossbody. This is a great crossbody bag that is perfect for traveling or carrying a lighter load each day. It has great storage options, including a wallet inside the actual bag, so everything I need is in one place! It’s available in fabric or genuine leather.
What is your favorite part about running Free2 Fly?
I love watching beautiful and strong women who have decided to not let their past define their future walk this new path for their lives. They’re not only working and learning to sew, but also pursuing both short-term & long-term goals that will lead to long-term success & sustainability. In addition to the women in our program, our staff is full of compassion and care for others, and it’s been an incredible thing to have other women join me in the work of this nonprofit. To have like-minded women also share your heart for others is priceless and key to running our organization.
What is your least favorite part about running Free 2 Fly?
How do you spread the word about your company?
We have a social media presence on Instagram and Facebook where we interact with our followers and supporters on a daily basis. We also participate in different handmade-forward market events in surrounding areas. We also encourage our supporters to share with others about our organization and products to help spread the word about the work we are doing.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
It’s ok to grow slow and gain wisdom and knowledge as you do so. Read, listen, and gain as much knowledge as you can from people who know what they are talking about and are successful. Be a lifelong learner and know that the advice from others who have gone before you is priceless and necessary for your own success.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
“Don’t judge a day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Whether you are building a business, investing in the lives of others, or participating in any work that will be sustainable and life-long, it just takes time. We want to see quick results, but there’s something to be said for steady plodding that’s going to sustain itself. I have to remind myself often of this. I have this quote hanging in my home to remind me that what we’re investing in the lives of these women is a daily thing. All the seeds we’re planting in their lives will ultimately bring a harvest of fulfilment, purpose, and value for their lives- it just takes a little time.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Although Free2Fly was a vision and idea that was placed in my heart, there have been many hands that have worked to get it where it is today. Having a team and a tribe of people who believe in what you’re doing and support you from day one is essential to success. I am forever grateful for those who support, work, and cheer us on daily and enable us to serve the women in our program.