A Heartfelt Story

from our founder, Carlie Rioux

Unconventional Founder. Accidental Designer. Intentional Survivor

Major life moments happen in 5-minute pieces. You can fall in love, quit your job, sell your house, buy a plane ticket; a concept could click, a feeling can make sense. You can make or break someone’s day.
You can experience Nirvana… and you can experience Hell.

This Is What Drives Me:

In my early twenties, I was sexually attacked 4 times by 4 separate men: a friend, a boss, a date, and a massage therapist.  Different races and different ages, different dynamics in different places. The only thing they had in common was that in 5-minute pieces they were brutally altering my life.

That fourth one occurred when I was 24 and was the one that caused the most damage.

Why?

Because it was the FOURTH TIME someone had seriously set out to harm me. I had also done everything right – I went through therapy to process the previous trauma. I was traveling solo but I had told my mom where I was, I was armed, and I had even researched the spa.

 

When asked if I was okay with a male therapist, I proudly said yes because despite the men who had hurt me, I had chosen to move forward with trust. I had chosen to not punish all for the actions of a few. You can imagine how soul crushing it was when that trust was betrayed in yet another hellish 5-minutes.

What the hell was happening?
 

Was there something wrong with men? (Yeah, some of them.)

Was there something wrong with me? Kind of, let me explain.

 

There is a silent conversation that takes place between victims and perpetrators. It’s an energy exchange. The prey emanates fear, the predator senses it. The victim throws up defenses, the perpetrator sees right through them. 

I was unintentionally speaking fluent victim which was attracting more abuse. I had no idea I was conversing with the world in this way.

 

I had been walking through a world of hyenas covered in the blood of old wounds.  

This is when everything changed: 

This is my Truth:

One morning while I was back home healing, my mom came into the kitchen and exclaimed “I f***ing hate them!” I laughed, inquiring into what had caused such consternation so early. 
 

“Beach bags! They’re just big holes of SUCK!”

Being a serial entrepreneur, I made a joke that I would start a company to fix them just for her. Out of sheer curiosity, I started asking the women in my life if they too hated their bags and it was a resounding YES.

Damn, I thought, maybe I should look into fixing this

 

I didn’t know a thing about the world of fashion. If I had a superpower though, it’s figuring shit out.
 

Turns out, new expertise can emerge from the darkness you’ve endured - baptized in lived experience and cauterized under pressure. In a 5-minute moment after lunch with a friend, I decided I was going to do it. 
 

Alongside learning about the difference between polyester and cotton, I discovered just how horrendous the abuse was in the fashion industry; both to humans and to the planet. It was impossible to ignore the theme of exploitation running through my life.

I discovered we have more slaves today than at any point in human history and I’d had enough of people treating others like property.

I knew I had to do something to support the people who were spending their days being exploited and abused. My trauma created a bridge to understanding the tragic reality of many human beings.

I understand just how unbelievable Truth can feel. 
 

Like the Truth that 80% of survivors will be re-victimized because they are shunned from their communities and can’t find safe work.
 

Or the Truth that out of the estimated 40.3 million enslaved people (more than the entire population of Canada), one in four are children. 
 

I came to realize not only could we fix beach bags, we could stand for something much bigger.
 

If you want to heal yourself, help someone else heal. With that as our understanding and our mission, this company has personally become my greatest healing journey of all.

Survivors of exploitation (including human trafficking) and marginalization have safe work, fair wages, and life training through our partner manufacturer. We are partnered with them to provide scholarships to the children of the survivors to help break the cycle of violence. We support the Drop-In center in Nepal so that present-day trafficking victims have somewhere to go. We are helping to create jobs in poverty-stricken areas by removing ocean plastics.

This is our home, and it deserves to be taken care of.

It feels good to break the rules and challenge the status quo, knowing there is a better way to do things.

Sometimes, we need to start an entire business aimed at breaking those rules and sometimes all we need to do is support those businesses.


So, what are you going to do with your next 5-minutes?

Yours in fighting for a kinder world,

 

Carlie