Producer Spotlight: Miriam Designs
We are so excited to be speaking with Gracie Moakler of Miriam Designs! Miriam Designs is a group of women in Nashville, Tennessee who have incredible stories of survival, restoration, and hope. They help to train and employ women who have survived years on the streets and are working their way to a better life. They are Lydali's first producer based in the United States, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Lydali family. What's your background, and how did you first get started with Miriam Designs?
My background is in fashion merchandising and marketing. I was working for a t-shirt company when I met Ronza, the inspiration behind the whole line. She is a woman who went through the Magdalene program here in Nashville (the program that's associated with Thistle Farms) and we became fast friends. The first ever piece of jewelry was a gift for Ronza and then I realized how fun jewelry making is. As the year/year 1/2 has progressed, I felt like the Lord gave me this idea to use it to help make jobs here in Nashville for women with pasts that might deter them from finding work otherwise.
In May 2012, I met a woman named Ronza at the grocery store, and left incredibly inspired by her story that began with drugs and addiction and now exudes restoration and redemption. I went home, bought copper discs and a hammering kit, and stamped the word “hope” on a necklace to give to her. This was the beginning of a passion that hadn’t quite found its purpose yet.
As the year went on, I met other amazing women in Nashville, like Ronza, who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, and addiction, and wanted to learn to make jewelry. So, I started teaching them. Little did I know how much I would learn from working alongside them... like how to laugh until it hurts, to allow hope to conquer my fear, and to experience the healing that comes through a community that loves unconditionally.
What are some of the goals of Miriam Designs?
Our goal is to help provide work for women here in Nashville who have survived lives of prostitution, drug abuse, trafficking, or homelessness. We teach them a new skill and create a fun community for them to thrive in. I LOVE spending time with them- so it just feels like a WIN-WIN every time we get together. The current goal is to get enough work coming in that we can bring at least 1-2 women full time and hire others with steady part time work! (we have 3-4 women who work part time as of now)
What do you love about working with the women of Thistle Farms?
Oh man... They laugh SO hard. I LOVE IT. And they have taught me a lot about just loving people unconditionally and what real determination looks like. These women truly have changed my life for the better.
What have been some of the biggest challenges for Miriam Designs since your launch in April 2012?
Biggest challenge- spreading the word and getting enough work to give them some consistency. I think I'm a "Why" and a "What" person when it comes to dreaming- but the "how" is a bit more tricky for me! I want to have enough work to give the ladies consistent schedules, but they are so patient and excited as we grow this business.
Where do you see Miriam Designs going in the future?
Hmmm ... I wish I knew! We are teaching jewelry making at the Nashville Rescue Mission tomorrow- and I just keep dreaming of being able to hire those women as well. I love the thought of bringing people together to create. So as the work rolls in, we will keep expanding our community. We are about to launch our catalog in the next few weeks and start seeking to gain retail accounts- and we will just see what God has in store for us.
What are your favorite products on Lydali by another artisan group?
THE AFRICAN VIOLET EARRINGS. I wear mine every day. (And I think they match PERFECTLY with Miriam necklaces). seriously haven't taken them off. But I am so inspired by the entire website.
I also have my eyes on the Secret Favorite Scarf. =)
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