While there are thousands of online fashion shops for women, the purpose of making an impact and changing the world has been largely overlooked. A Willing Spirit began with two sisters, a love for fashion and a deep yearning to plant a seed that could make a difference in the world. The sisters combined these two passions and A Willing Spirit was born.
A Willing Spirit is not just an online store where women can come and express their personalities through fashion, it goes beyond and allows your purchase to make a difference in the world by contributing 10% of the profit made on EVERY single item and donating it to a different organization every month.
“I alone can not change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”- M. Theresa.
It is said that girls with dreams become women with a vision, but a vision is not enough, you must truly believe in it, but even believing is not enough. You must take action and cast that stone across the waters so that together we are empowered to be part of the change that this world needs.
Growing up, every Sunday, the sisters would help their mom cook and then go with their dad to the homeless community and pass out food. The sisters grew up feeling that it was their duty to help others so one day the sisters decided to do something and A Willing Spirit was born. They opened an online boutique that only empowered women to express themselves through fashion, but also did something to help make this world a little bit of a better place.
What inspired you to start A Willing Spirit?
Our motive behind A Willing Spirit was instilled at young age. Our parents migrated to this country when my sisters and I were at a young age. We lived a comfortable life in South America, but my parents were able to foresee all the troubles that were coming to Venezuela and life had already become very dangerous to where we had to place barb wires and cement walls around the house in order to maintain our safety. With extreme pain in their hearts, our parents left the place they had always known as home and brought us here just so that we may have a chance at a better future.
When we arrived in the United States, we faced many struggles, we didn’t have a place a to live so a pastor offered opened the doors of his home to us. We remained there until someone offered to rent us their RV, yes, we were a family of 6 and lived in an RV for almost 6 months, but to my parents, it was all worth it because they no longer lived with fear for their daughter’s safety. Our Father went from being a well-known businessman in South America to now cleaning the streets of Broward County just so he could make $10 an hour. Our mother went from living comfortably as a stay at home mom, having cleaning ladies and nannies, to now having to work cleaning houses herself in order to make a living.
We didn’t have a place a to live so a pastor offered opened the doors of his home to us
I’m sure this is the typical story of most Immigrants, but this story is what began the passion behind A Willing Spirit. Our Father always wanted us to remember where we came from and taught us that the secret to life was in giving and in the servitude to those in need. He wanted to make sure that he instilled these principles in us so every Sunday, he’d have us help our mother cook food and we’d package it and take it downtown to pass it out to the homeless population. This is where our itch to make a difference, to help those in need, really began. Our father not only influenced us, but awakened an unsatiable yearning to meet the needs of those in poverty around the world, to be the change, to bring hope to those who feel forgotten, to give a chance for a better life and future to those who don’t have a chance and to inspire others to do the same.
My sister and I also had a passion for fashion since we were young so we decided to bring together our two greatest passions, and A Willing spirit was born. The day we launched the website we felt elated because we knew were walking our purpose. They say your passions and the what makes you come alive, are your purpose and your gifts to this world and that’s what we hope to accomplish through A Willing Spirit. It is our platform to not only empower women through fashion but to make an impact in the world by helping those in need, by helping those who have been forgotten and give them a better a chance at life the way our parents gave it to us.
What was your own first experience in the fashion industry?
Our Grandmother was a widow who never remarried and raised all three of her children on her own. She worked hard as a seamstress to make a living. Most of the dresses and bows that we were as little girls, were designed and sewn by our Grandmother. I was always fascinated by this and when I was old enough to sew, she began to teach me. At the age of 11 years old, I already had notebooks with designs that I had drawn and collections for the clothing line that I dreamt of having one day. I knew fashion was where my heart was and I had chosen it as my career until one day when I was a senior in high school, some parent’s parents friends came to visit us and they were going on and on about how their daughters were going into med school.
So when I said I was going to pursue a career in the fashion industry, they almost fell out of their chair laughing so hard. They said “sweetie, your dreams are a hobby, they will never pay your bills. Do your parents a favor and choose a real career” and those words cut through me like a double edge sword and changed the path of my life forever. All my dreams came crashing down with one sentence and steered me into a completely opposite direction. After that date, I saw fashion as a dream that was not feasible for common girls like me. I had to conform and find a career that could supply me to pay the bills. With a broken heart, I turned my back on all my designs and what used to make me come alive and began searching for a career that sustained my second passion which was helping others and what more rewarding career than nursing and so I became a registered nurse.
They said “sweetie, your dreams are a hobby, they will never pay your bills
Sometimes things happen that tend to steer us a different direction from where we were meant to go, but this is the beauty in our uniqueness. We were all equipped with different talents, gifts, passions etc. These passions that we feel inside, make us come alive, they were instilled in us because they are our purpose and no matter how many roadblocks we may face, they will always be within us like a dormant volcano waiting to erupt. Somehow, our passions will always find a way to steer us back in the right direction even if that means that we must be faced with situations that force us to dig deep and remember that passion that once made us feel alive.
This is what my blog “Awakening the Comeback Kid” is all about, pursuing your passions, pursuing what makes you come alive, no matter how many may tell you that you can’t do it, or that it won’t work. Encouraging women to pursue those gifts inside of you even if you’re the only one that believes in you because they are your purpose and this world needs our gifts and your passions. Thankfully, after I became a nurse, I remembered what it was that I once loved, what it was that made come alive, I remembered the feeling I felt when I drew my designs and how fashion can make a woman feel so empowered. The day I remembered that feeling I never looked back and A Willing spirit was born.
What do you have to keep in mind BEFORE before getting into entrepreneurship?
I always say, your “why” is the heartbeat of your business. What I mean by your “why”, I’m referring to the reason you want to start your business. What is your motivation behind it? what is pushing you to start this business? Why do it? What is the passion behind it? What is giving you that itch to take the risk and open your business? Find that “why” and you will find your blueprint to success. Your why is what becomes your alarm clock every morning. Your why is what will push you beyond your comfort zones, your “why” will lead you to find the solution when there doesn’t seem to be a solution.
Your why will make a way where there wasn’t a way
Your why will make a way where there wasn’t a way. It will be the voice in your ear telling you to keep going when things get hard and everything in you wants to give up, your why will make you rise, dust yourself off and keep moving forward when you face bumps on the road. Make your “why” the foundation of your business and you can guarantee yourself success. Yes, you will face obstacles at some point, you may fail at it many times, but if you continue to go back to your “why” and use it as your fuel, you will eventually succeed because your “whys” are usually your passions, your gifts, your talents, your purpose on this world. As Thomas Edison said “I did not fail, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
Aside from A Willing Spirit, you’re collaborating with WHOlives What is it about?
Our vision and purpose with A Willing Spirit was always to use it as a platform to make an impact and provide help to those in need around the world. “Great thoughts speak to a thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind” That’s the actual meaning behind the name. Encouraging people to have “A Willing Spirit” to take action and make a change in the world. So for many years, we have been very passionate about doing something to put a dent in the scarcity of clean water and the death tolls caused by it, we also wanted to do something to help women obtain education help in countries where they’re able to due to culture, clean water scarcity or lack of schools within their communities.
In some countries around the world, like Africa, women are unable to attend school because their daily chore is to spend hours walking miles and miles searching for clean water. Normally, if they do find water, it tends to be contaminated and not suitable for human consumption. So these women and their families become sick and most of the time end up passing away due to diseases acquired through dirty water. Every year 3.4 million people die in Africa due to contaminated water consumption. So when we launched A Willing Spirit, we knew that this was the first cause that we were going to work towards.
Our goal is to raise enough funds to install at least one water well in a village in Africa
We researched the different organizations out there that have efforts in place towards this cause and we came across the Wholives foundation. The WHOlives foundation not only installs water wells and water drills for an entire village, but they also use these wells to fund the local village schools for women. The do this by installing the well next to the school and charging a very small amount of ten cents per gallon to the villagers in order to continue funding the school. So when a water well is installed, not only does the entire village regain their right as a human to have access to clean water, but it also keeps women from having to skip school so they can go fetch water all day and it also funds the school.
So we came up with a plan to partner with this foundation and designed a bracelet that says A Willing spirit since the name itself represents encouraging others to do things like this and very time someone donates at least $10 to the WHOlives foundation through our site, we send them “A Willing Spirit” bracelet as a symbol of the contribution they made making an impact in these women’s lives. Our goal is to raise enough funds to install at least one water well in a village in Africa. Once we reach that goal, we will be going to that village ourselves and documenting exactly where the funds went and how they impacted the life’s of these women.
You have battled depression and anxiety. What is the best way for a person to open up about depression and anxiety?
A lot of times people tend to be afraid of speaking out because they are embarrassed, afraid of judgment or simply refuse to admit that something is going on and they need help. Unfortunately, both my sister and I were guilty of this. We both felt that if we ignored it, it’d just eventually go away on its own. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, it only becomes worse because you’re encasing all of those emotions inside creating a volcano waiting to erupt. It’s almost like when you leave leftovers in a container in your car. Those leftovers sit there for days and days and when you finally realize you had left it in your car, it now has mold growing inside and the smell is enough to awake the dead. The same goes for someone who is experiencing depression and anxiety, the emotions and feelings must be addressed immediately in order to fix the problem before it becomes unbearable.
You can’t change something that you won’t acknowledge is there
The first step in overcoming depression and anxiety is admitting and speaking out about it. You can’t change something that you won’t acknowledge is there. The best advice that we can give for someone to open up about depression is to realize that they are not alone. 1 out of 10 women in the United States experience depression and two-thirds of these women do not seek help. Women need to realize that the more they speak up, the more chances they have at improving and overcoming this. When you no longer feel alone and have the support of others cheering you on to overcome your mental state and mentoring you through it, the faster your healing process becomes.
Healing begins with speaking up. Sometimes something as simple as being able to vent your feelings to someone will put you halfway to recovery already. You must put aside your fear of judgment, your feelings of embarrassment, place your mental health first and ferociously fight for you, fight for your inner peace, fight for your mental well being. When you decide that you are your priority, all fears and hesitancy of opening up will digress and you will be on your way to complete healing and finding your inner peace again. Both of us can attest to this.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
A Willing Spirit was originally named Pieri Marie and it started almost 4 years ago. Back then, it was started as just a clothing store with no real vision behind it. I just loved fashion and always had a dream to own my store one day. I had saved up some money and decided to go purchase clothes from wholesalers and I thought I’d figure out the rest as I went. I had no guidance, no real plan on where to take the company, I just knew I had a passion for it, but I didn’t have enough capital to really make it what I wanted it to be. I didn’t want to take any loans because I already had student loans. I felt like was at a dead-end. Shortly after, the company was closed and I just said “God, you know my heart and my passion. You know the things I want to do with this company, If this is truly my purpose in life, somehow, someday the doors will open again and this time it will succeed” so I left it at that.
Failures are our blueprint to greatness
A few years later, my sister sent me a text saying she was quitting her job and devoting her self full time to this project. Shortly after, A Willing Spirit was born, stronger, with a set vision, with a purpose and determination to make change through fashion, empower and inspire women around the world. When Pierimarie.com failed, we refused to identify ourselves with that failure instead, we used it as our most powerful fuel to take a step back, analyze and recharge the batteries.
Failure took us from the wrong direction to the right direction. We used it as our fuel. What people don’t realize is that failure is what shapes us, Failures are our greatest professors. Failure is the stepping stone to success, failure is what drives us to excel even further beyond what we could’ve imagined. Failures are our blueprint to greatness. One must embrace it, study it and use it as ammunition to create their most powerful tools for success. Don’t be afraid of failure, fail hard, fail gracefully, smile when you see failure because it’s only redirecting you down the right path and getting you that much closer reaching success. Pursue your heart’s desires without any fear of failure for failure itself is the paradigm of perseverance.
What is the most rewarding aspect of A Willing Spirit?
A Willing Spirit was founded upon 2 sisters who decided to take a risk and follow their passions. Two sister who wanted to use these passions and make a difference in the world by giving a chance at a better life to those who don’t have many chances, lending a hand to those who seem to be out of reach and feel as though the world has forgotten them, and by hopefully igniting others to do the same. This is the most rewarding aspect of A Willing Spirit, what it represents, the impact that it was built to have, knowing that this is not just a clothing store, but rather a platform for a movement meant to influence and ignite others to also have a willing spirit. Seeing the impact our efforts have on others around the world, is what we consider the most rewarding aspect of a willing spirit. Seeing that the risk we took was worth taking because many lives are and will be impacted.
Three pieces of advice to overcome depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety is something that tends to occur in every woman at some point in their life. Regardless of what age the women may be, it is an arduous phase to overcome, but if my sister and I did it, so can any other woman. My sister and I went through it during our college years, early 20s. We are both firm believers in God so we credit our ability to overcome this without medications, fully to God, but we do believe that the person must put in the work in order to heal. You can not expect to just have fairy dust sprinkled over you and you’ll be all better and much less expect the medications to be that fairy dust. The medications may make you feel better and mask the symptoms, but they’re not the cure because the healing must come from within. When it comes to depression and anxiety, you must work on your mind because it is your thoughts and your emotions that tend to trigger the release of certain chemicals and hormones in your body triggering certain emotions, feelings, and moods.
The first piece of advice
The healing begins with you putting in the work to transform your thoughts, feelings, emotions and strengthening your mind. You must become a mind ninja, get your mind a black belt, exercise it as though you were preparing for the Olympics. Begin by dissecting your mind, rewiring your thoughts, getting to know yourself. Read books by those who have overcome this. listen to speeches, audible books and podcasts of experts in this field who teach you how to regain control of your mind in order to rewire your thinking and feelings. You must be diligent in your healing. It is your responsibility to rise and fight for you, fight for your happiness, for your right to inner peace and do not believe for one second that you’re not capable of overcoming this. You are fully equipped with all the tools you need to overcome this, but it is up to you to put in the work.
Whatever you do, do not isolate yourself. Do the complete opposite and try to be around others at all times
Second piece of advice
Stay busy, find a hobby, find a job, volunteer somewhere etc. Involve yourself in a group where you can mingle with others and build a strong support group. Get out of your comfort zones, remember what used to make you come alive, music, painting, gardening, cooking etc, pursue it again. Even if that thing that used to bring you joy, no longer does, do it anyway. Eventually, your mind will begin to remember how happy it used to make you and soon it’ll begin to awaken those feelings in you again. Whatever you do, do not isolate yourself. Do the complete opposite and try to be around others at all times.
Third piece of advice
Gratitude. No matter how bad you may feel, be grateful for your situation. Believe that everything that happens to us is for a reason. When I went through this, I couldn’t understand why. I was always so in love with life and happy until one day everything just came crashing down and I couldn’t understand how this was happening to me, someone who used to be so full of life. I decided that although I didn’t get why this was happening, I was going to give thanks for my situation because one day it would all make sense. So I did, every day I gave thanks for my situation even when it didn’t make sense to do so. Once I was healed, I began working at a clinic in an area that just so happened to be prevalent with stay at home moms who were facing depression and anxiety. It was then that it all began to make sense.
Thanks to what I went through, I now had a story to tell, I was able to inspire them by giving them hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that If I was able to overcome, so could they. You never know just how your story will be used in someone else’s life so always be grateful for every situation you face. See what there is to learn in each situation and be thankful for it because it only leads to self-evolvement. The moment you start feeling wholeness and gratitude, your healing begins. “Gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership” – Dr. Joe Dispenza.