Takara United Is On A Mission To Empower People.
Takara United empowers the poor, elevates artisans, creates opportunities, and helps preserve the practice of culturally significant handicrafts.
I happen to know both the Founder and Co-Founder, although my experience with them is very, very personal. I was a young child whose mother was facing homelessness–a lot.
But, what Kirsi didn’t mention in her brief introduction of me in their article on me was that there is more to why my mother was homeless. Kirsi didn’t know, and I didn’t know until a few years ago.
A Quick Backstory Of How Kirsi Helped Me When I Was A Vulnerable Child
My mother was raped and I did not know this until about a year after she died. That incident traumatized her in a way that I can never imagine no matter how much empathy I have.
I grew up with a mom whose outlet was hoarding. She hated taking baths and the house was straight out of an episode of Animal Hoarders.
I would often go to church to escape. Or to school or the library. Church was where I met this vibrant soul with four beautiful babies. She needed a sitter and I volunteered. Sometimes I would stay over and then one summer, the hoarding got really bad and Kirsi found out.
My mother hated Kirsi, but Kirsi just kept loving my mother in a way that actually started a road to her own healing. (That road was long, but Mom traveled and was at peace when she crossed over.) Kirsi saw the inside of our house, didn’t believe my mom when Mom said it was my fault–and Kirsi was one of the few people who didn’t believe my mom.
My mom often blamed me for her hoarding problem. So did her bosses and anyone else that would find out. In fact, that blame also came from several family members on her side who I could never understand why they hated me until learning of her rape.
I never really knew my birth family growing up. I do remember Aunt Effie screaming at me about what a bad child I was.
I had one phone conversation with my biological dad. It literally tore my mother up to even talk about him so when she found out I had a conversation with him on the phone, she went in to shock. I remember that day clearly: the tears in her eyes, the hurt mixed with hate and agony. It was like I stabbed her in the heart.
I was 17 at that time. I had no idea why my mother looked at me like that. Until 2012 when a friend of my mothers told me she confided in her that she was raped. And I was that result.
At first, I didn’t believe it because no one could confirm the story. Then I started getting to know my relatives on her side. There were many stories and two sides of a huge fight that I was always told that I was the cause of. This fight was why we moved to Louisiana where no one knew us.
The stories all came together: many thought she was on drugs and using me to make drug money. But during my life, I never saw any drugs. Only cigarettes. In fact, Mom was adamant about no drugs, no boys, and alcohol period.
One of her cousins told me a story about how when I was 2, we were in a restaurant and I was throwing food at people. Mom just sat there with a lost glazed look in her eyes. They didn’t understand why she couldn’t control me.
And every single one of the ones I did speak to all had the same story about my birth: They didn’t know about me until one day, she just appeared with a baby.
Kirsi saved me that year in a way that no one could. She even gave me a very precious gift of jewelry that had been in her family for generations.
Her children were so sweet and one little girl used to crawl in my lap when I attempted to read Finnish children’s books to them. This little girl would giggle and say, “No, it’s pronounced this way,”
That little girl grew up to start Takara United.
The Story of Takara United
Uniqua grew up to have a love for fashion. One day, she and Kirsi were watching a documentary called True Cost, which educated them about the real cost of creating the fashions of the world. Uniqua’s marketing in journalism and Kirsi’s fashion design degrees were just a few blocks of the foundation.
They began to educate themselves and then an idea was born. They got to visit Freeset Bags & Apparel, based out of Kolkata , India.
This company helps bring women out of Asia’s red light districts, teaches them to sew and helps them to overcome being victimized. It helps them take their power back one stitch at a time. Kirsi and Uniqua got to see in a hands on setting how fashion can be used a a force for change and social empowerment which showed them they were on the right track.
The idea kept growing and became an inferno when Uniqua took a business course, drafted a plan and Kirsi started working on her creativity with designing.
Uniqua chose the name, Takara, because of it’s meaning. It is Japanese for treasure.
Takara United is something that gathers together treasures from all over the globe: handwoven silk shirts from India to handmade Moroccan rugs and presents them in a way that has a positive impact that benefits everyone.
Right now they are working on networking with partners, building a building a community of like-minded women, and getting their core collection to production.
Takara Women is a segment on their website that features a woman who is an artisan.
“We’re for the women who are confident yet vulnerable, courageous yet down to earth. For her, whose definition of beauty is staying true to herself, and who’s not afraid to take a stand or go head forward towards her dreams. For the overcomers who always choose to embrace life and love; for all of the diamonds that started off as chunks of coal.”~~ Takara United.
I was their first Takara Woman and am honored to be chosen as such. You can read the article here.