Tell me about your primary occupation. Besides money, what talents and skills does it have to contribute to the nonprofit community? I’m a fashion designer. I work on my brand, PROVOKESTYLE, which is a ready to wear high end women’s fashion line. Within PROVOKESTYLE, I also teach fashion and sewing at my studio.When someone buys something from PROVOKESTYLE, a portion of the proceeds goes to PROVOKESTYLE FASHION CORPORATION. The two cannot be separated. If all I do is design clothes and never contribute to my community, it’s useless.
I feel like PROVOKE encompasses what I do. I get to create and contribute my ideas to the world. I also get to invest in the next generation. Artists in generations past left us books, works of arts, and creative inspirations. As an artist, I have a responsibility to do the same thing for generations to come.I want my life to be one that provokes people. Whether I am creating a new design, working with youth, or having a conversation with a stranger, I want to be provoking them to new ideas and to new actions in their community. I also want to be provoked and inspired through these interactions.
We all have crummy days when we don’t feel like giving. What motivates you at those times?For me, on bad days, it is all about going back to my foundation. My identity rests in Christ, and not in what I do. On those days where I am not feeling it, I force myself to remember that following Jesus and living with a purpose cannot be dictated by feelings. I also love the examples of people like Jesus and Mother Theresa who lived with a mission but who would always stop to love the people they met on the way.My identity is not what I do. It’s good for me to remember that. If my identity is only wrapped up in what I do, it is impossible to avoid failure. There has got to be something more than that.
Who taught you to be philanthropic and how? I went on a mission trip two years ago to Poland, and there was an organization there called PROEM. They gave a different side of Christian ministry – they went into the community and loved people and just spent time with people. It wasn’t about forcing my views on people or coercing them to buy into what I believe, rather it was about spending time with people. When we got back, the trip leader asked us how we could bring what we saw back here.
How would you encourage other Savannahians to give back? Your way is “out-of-the-box.” What other such needs or opportunities do you see? Identify your gifts and passions. What is it that you love to do? Then figure out how to give that to someone else. Whether it is drawing, cooking, sports, reading, video games, whatever your gift is, start giving! Every single one of us has a unique skill set and passion, and there are needs everywhere in our community.