November 21, 2013

SoulMakes + StillBrave

You may have already seen this amazing collaboration we are doing with our good friends at StillBrave Childhood Cancer Foundation, but I wanted to take a moment and tell you all a little more about StillBrave and how this amazing project came about...

In January 2009,'Tattoo Tom' (President and Executive Director of StillBrave) lost his daughter, Shayla, to childhood cancer. After Shayla lost her battle with Hodgkin's disease, Tattoo Tom founded the non-profit organization, StillBrave.

"When the doctors gave me the news that my daughter had stage 4 Hodgkin’s disease I had to dig really deep within my soul. I had to become braver than I ever thought possible... I had to have a really tough conversation with a very scared 16 year old girl. I wound up purchasing two sterling silver “feather” bracelets from an American Indian art store near the hospital, a small feminine bracelet for Shayla and a larger one for myself...
I gave her the bracelet I had bought for her and I put mine on at the same time, again I talked about the wind and about feathers and how fate had blown the two of us together.

I promised her 3 things:
1.That I would wear my bracelet until the day she was cancer free.
2.That for every single night she had to stay in the hospital I would stay with her.
3.That as long as she stayed brave, so would I.

“Am I still brave Dad?” she whispered softly in my ear.

I placed my hands on her face and looked deep into her eyes; my baby was tired and she had fought so bravely for so long...but she was so very tired... she was still brave alright but as I looked into her eyes I began to realize something: this whole time she hadn’t been staying brave for herself, she had been staying brave for ME!! 

A few days later my daughter Shayla lost her battle with childhood cancer. She fought hard and she fought bravely."
-Tattoo Tom

Tattoo Tom has been a good friend of mine for several years now. I watched Tom go through the loss of his daughter, Shayla. I watched him mourn and share his grief with friends, I watched him grow through this experience and I watched as he became a warrior, fighting childhood cancer in any way he could. I was amazed and so proud when Tom started StillBrave. StillBrave’s mission is to provide non-medical, supportive care to children with cancer, and their families in the Washington, DC Metro area. StillBrave is committed to supporting the families of children battling cancer in any way they can. They are helping with the simple day to day needs that are often overlooked during hard times. They provide gas cards, grocery cards and similar items, as well as working to educate, counsel and bring joy to those afflicted and their families. I am beyond honored to be working with such a wonderful foundation. 

A while back, when SoulMakes was just getting started, Tom asked me about a custom bracelet for himself. He wanted something very unique and suited to him. For whatever reason, we didn't reconvene on this until recently. We ran into each other and he noticed a braided leather bracelet, full of charms on my wrist. He asked if I could make him one just like that, but with only two feathers. What a brilliant idea, inspired just at the right moment.

Tom and I share a very kindred appreciation for feathers and all the beautiful meanings they hold. For thousands of years, feathers have been awarded by many as a sign of respect for great accomplishments. Often those of bravery, like conquering an enemy at war. They are a symbol of strength and wisdom. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the StillBrave logo is two feathers, and the SoulMakes logo is two feathers. I made the custom bracelet for Tom and something magical happened. We hadn't planned on it being anything other than a one time design, but we got such a reaction from our friends and supporters when we shared pictures of it in our respective circles. So the StillBrave bracelet was born. SoulMakes is donating 50% of all purchases from the StillBrave collection. I couldn’t think a more perfect design to represent the StillBrave cause and I could not be more excited to lend a helping hand. 

We saw an overwhelming response within minutes of announcing our new partnership a few days ago.  We had orders from all around the East Coast, as well as international! It was really quite heart warming and awe inspiring. 
Stop by the shop and check out the StillBrave collection!
Find out more about how you can involved: here
MacK Mars

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