In the summer of 2017, Derick and I were sitting in a church meeting when we were asked to share a significant moment with the group. We had just got married about 7 days prior so naturally that was what I chose to talk about. After all, it is pretty significant.
This question kept ringing in my head for days. It occurred to me that there was another significant event that happened in my life. This was one of those moments that you look back on and realize it completely changed the trajectory of your life.
It was a cold winter day in the beginning of February in Westford, a small town about 30 miles from Boston. It was a Wednesday; I carpooled with my neighbors. We drove half a mile to the high school and I talked with my friends in the front lobby. The first bell rang and all 1,600 students shuffled into their first period class. All of these things were normal, but there was something about that morning that felt off.
Our principal came over the intercom half way through first period, “Olivia Marchand was shot in her home last night and has passed away as of early this morning.” Those words rung like a bell in my head. My heart sank into my stomach. I was in disbelief. Olivia’s story came to a crashing halt due to an act of domestic violence by her father.
Something was born in me on February 2, 2010. I couldn’t shake this feeling of needing to take some kind of action after what happened. This desire to serve, help, encourage, and raise awareness for domestic violence became my passion. After years of research and planning community events in my hometown, I decided to take my awareness work to my college campus. Hands for Hope was born on February 14, 2014. We sought to be an awareness and advocacy organization for domestic and sexual violence on college campuses. We offered assistance and resources to survivors, as well as awareness to the greater community. Our seemingly small platform became bigger and bigger as more campuses were modeling what we were doing at Belmont.
Derick and I first met when I was in the thick of running Hands for Hope. We were gaining recognition on a state-wide level, I was speaking at universities and events throughout Tennessee, and we won two awards that spring for the awareness work we accomplished. While I am no longer involved with Hands for Hope, my passion and drive to make a difference has never gone away.
The idea for Inspire Line initially came from a dream instilled in Derick in 2013. As his final project in college, he had to complete a business plan for a company that he wanted to create. He was inspired by Toms, a one for one shoe company, and thought it would be fun to create a lifestyle apparel brand with some sort of similar charitable component. When Derick first told me about this, I immediately jumped onboard with the concept. The goal with Inspire Line has always been to combine our two passions: Derick’s for creating apparel and mine for serving and helping people.
We have tried to start Inspire Line quite a few times now. We kept getting things ready to launch, but every time there was something inside of us that told us it wasn’t time. It’s clear now why that was. In the years since the idea was originally born, quite a bit has changed with Derick and I in terms of our careers. In 2016, I was hired by an artist management company where I became heavily involved in the e-commerce and merchandise worlds which eventually led me to overseeing all artist merchandise efforts for the company. Meanwhile, Derick’s first job was working for an artist merchandising company that designed and produced apparel. This was where he taught himself graphic design and learned a lot about apparel design and manufacturing. He eventually left that job and now has his own company, Inspire Line Creative, which offers graphic design and merchandise consulting services. Reflecting back on our journey, it honestly amazes me how both of our experiences and careers prepped us for Inspire Line.
For me, I think what excites me the most is seeing how these shirts connect with people and start a conversation. What I learned the most during my time running a non-profit is that awareness is one of the most important aspects — not only for the organization, but for the cause they represent. In order to raise awareness, you have to start a conversation. I love that we have an opportunity to bridge that gap and be a voice for these world changing organizations. And it doesn’t stop with apparel. We feel like there is so much more that is born inside of us and have more dreams for what we want Inspire Line to be.
For now, you can find us over here counting our blessings… and let’s be honest…counting some t-shirts. But seriously, we are so amazed and honored that God has entrusted us with this vision to serve. We truly could not have done this without all of our friends, family, and supporters like YOU. Thank you for being a part of the fam. Here’s to creating, inspiring, and changing the world one t-shirt at a time.