Every day we are inspired by beautiful things we see, and the beautiful people we are surrounded with. Today, we are especially inspired by Jessica Hendricks, an enterprising go-getter, an ambitious philanthropist, and the founder of The Brave Collection
. Words can't describe how amazing she is, so we'll let her words do all the explaining. Read below for our one-on-one Q&A with Jessica.
1.What career path did you have in mind before your first trip to Cambodia?
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I was studying Acting at NYU Tisch - my heart was set on being an actress when I was a kid. I think I fell in love with acting because I loved storytelling, and when I went to Cambodia, I found a story that needed to be told.
2.Did you ever imagine you'd be a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist at such a young age?
I've always had the entrepreneurial bug! When I was in 7th grade I had a line of headbands that I hot-glued together in my bedroom. I had a look book and everything! Likewise, I've always wanted to give back, but until Brave I think I just wasn't quite sure how. That's one of our goals with Brave, to give people an approachable way to give back and make a difference.
3.When was the moment you felt Brave was making a difference?
I received a note from one of our artisans who makes our bracelet pouches telling me how our business is helping her to put her daughter through school. It's quite powerful ? in a country like Cambodia, a small opportunity can go a long way.
4.Did you have any background in fashion before starting Brave?
I took some classes at FIT, but I've learned most of what I know through my mother who has two beautiful jewelry boutiques. She taught me to value handmade artistry, and fashion that comes with a history and meaningful story behind it.
5.Are the Cambodian artisans the sole designers of the bracelets and bags? Or is there a team of designers?
It's definitely a team effort between New York and Cambodia. I wanted to create a line that spoke to the unique culture of Cambodia and celebrated its beautiful language, while remaining compelling to a Western audience. We work hand in hand to integrate traditional Eastern craftsmanship with modern Western design, creating a truly global product.
6.Name one short term and long term goal you have for Brave
Short term, I'm looking forward to getting our Spring/Summer styles off the ground in time to celebrate our one year anniversary this February! Long term, I want to grow, grow, grow! New colors, new styles, everything's on the table and there's lots of dreaming happening!
7.Do you have any advice for young aspiring philanthropists?
Believe in your own power and be patient with yourself. Starting something new is terrifying and it takes time, but if you really hone into what it is you want to do, the universe will work its magic to help make it happen. Don't be discouraged by the gravity or enormity of the cause you're fighting for because the tiniest efforts can make an enormous difference.
8.Which is your favorite piece from the Brave collection, and why?
I love the True Red Brass Bracelet (link to product). Cambodia is a largely Buddhist country, so many people there have a red string tied around their wrists from the temples for protection and good luck. Red has a certain power to it, a certain Bravery even, so a red Brave bracelet is a double whammie of courage and strength!
9.What does bravery mean to you?
I always thought Bravery was for first dates and tribal-patterned pants. And it is! But going to Cambodia and meeting a country full of survivors of a terrible genocide in the 1970s, and witnessing how the aftermath affects so many young people, many of whom have fallen victim to human trafficking, the word Brave took on new meaning for me. Bravery is so universal, and yet it resonates with each of us in a different way.
10.What kind of woman do you have in mind when you are designing the collections?
Strong, free and empowered women, "pioneers of the possible" as writer Angela Nazarian would say.