Reality is Different for All
College was one of the best times of my life. I was a member of student government, a student orientation leader and even organized concerts with acts such as Destiny’s Child. These happy occasions gave me the leadership skills I needed to be who I am today. But college is not an entirely positive experience for everyone, especially not for the one in four women who are sexually assaulted in college. I recently met two women who did experience this. Both were raped as students. But their stories aren’t about despair. They’re about being fearless in order to empower others.
Karen Hansen and Laura Rachlin both attended Florida State University in the 90s. And while they didn’t know each other at the time, both had experienced rape and were carrying that secret with them. The experience radically changed their lives—one became pregnant and the other was left questioning whether she would ever trust friends again.
Fast forward to years later when both Karen and Laura were working in the field of interior design. They met at an industry party and became fast friends. It turned out they had a lot in common.
Launching a Business, Creating a Family
Just months prior to 9/11, the best friends decided to launch their own interior design company focused on making hospitals a more comforting place to stay. They found great success and quickly, but when the twin towers fell so did their accelerated rise to the top.
They scrambled to find new clients. One worked as a waitress to make ends meet and both worried about how they would feed their young children. But they were survivors and knew they would find a way. They ultimately bounced back and were more successful than ever but heartbreak hit again for both women. One experienced domestic violence while the other discovered her beloved child was sexually abused by her husband. Instead of closing their thriving business or giving up on life, they felt it was time to end their silence, speak up and speak out. They also decided they would use fashion to express their power with the hope of leading to inspire change.
Karen and Laura launched Wren and Roch (pronounced Ren and Rock–a play off their names), a luxury handbag company, in 2016. They went from carrying the shame of their past to carrying their courage in their hands. Their handbags are not only stunning, but they are tangible, physical proof that they can overcome anything. In thanksgiving for their blessings, Wren and Roch contributes a portion of all sales to organizations that help victims of sexual assault.
But they didn’t stop there. They created their own foundation. The Wren & Roch Foundation’s goal is to raise funds to educate high school and college students about abuse. They also provide speaking engagements and resources for those who want to learn more about preventing physical and sexual violence.
Join Their Cause
You can give to their foundation by clicking here or you might want to wear one of their products in their honor. I love their fearless cuff as a beautiful reminder that anything is possible. They’ve graciously given all members of the #MovementMakerTribe a 25% discount; use the code movementmaker when you check out!
I left my interview with Karen and Laura wanting to spend more time with these women. They are first-class human beings, fighters, and successful businesswomen. As I continue on this path of becoming an entrepreneur, I know that I can turn to them for inspiration. Thank you, Karen and Laura, for sharing with me your wisdom about life, power and starting a business. You have encouraged me to be confident, bold and strong and to carry my courage.
PS. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country. Please share this with someone who might need the courage to speak up.
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