NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nations is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Nashville. New homes are popping up and new construction is just about everywhere you look.
But it’s also a booming business district, where shops like Fashionable are moving in and finding major success.
But this boutique is doing much more than just making money. They’re changing lives.
At first glance, Fashionable is like any other retail shop, but then you hear the story about the merchandise and where it came from.
“This is our Joslyn sandal. It’s named after one of the women in Peru we work with,” says Barrett Ward, the founder and CEO.
That’s when your perspective on the chic boutique changes. The concept behind Fashionable was created by Ward when he was living in Ethiopia with his wife, who is a social worker.
They saw the heartbreaking reality there first-hand.
“We started seeing young girls and young women waiving to us on the street and we didn’t know why. Eventually we found out they were soliciting sex,” says Ward.
He told News 2, “The bottom line, really why we started Fashionable, was we were working with women who came out of the commercial sex industry.”
Then Ward and his family moved to Nashville, where their desire to help others only grew.
“We kept hearing from them. We love the rehabilitation, we appreciate the charity, but at the end of the day when we finish this process, we still don’t have a job, we still don’t have a skill on the other side. So I said I wanted to get active in the solution-side not the Band-Aid side, but the long-term solutions to poverty,” says Ward.
That long-term solution is a job, and that’s where Fashionable comes in.
“How we start the process with women is we visit the places where they come from like Hope Center, Magdalen Center, and we do crafts with them, like jewelry, and if we see women who are attracted to that we tell them there is an opportunity for them,” explained Ward.
Everything sold by Fashionable is made by hand, by women who have overcome life’s struggle.
They make clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags and, soon, denim.
They go through training and then set up shop in the back of the boutique. Barbara Pitts is one of those women.
“I primarily do soldering but a little bit of everything,” says Pitts.
Her dream was never to make jewelry. In fact, for a while, she didn’t really have a dream at all.
“I struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for many years until it got to the point it took everything I had away from me, including my daughter,” says Pitts. “I lost custody of my daughter. I just knew at that point something had to change.”
Pitts went through the program at the Nashville Rescue Mission. She turned her life around and got her daughter back. But then, like many women in her position, she needed a job.
“It’s also really hard also to find a job when you have different convictions. People look at your past and judge you but Fashionable doesn’t do that,” she says.
Now Pitts is able to provide for her family in a safe, creative space. She’s found her home, where she turns nothing into something beautiful–her job much like her life story.
“It really is ashes to beauty. You turn out this beautiful piece of jewelry,” she told News 2.
Fashionable is open for shopping at their location on Centennial Boulevard or you can shop online. Click here to check it out.
If you are a woman interested in a job, just stop by the store.