Laverne Delgado-Small Uses Fashion as a Vehicle to Combat Injustice

laverne delgado-small headshot

My time in the fashion industry has been well spent. Not only has it helped in molding me into the woman that I am today, but I have also witnessed how this wearable form of art serves as a therapeutic, creative outlet for others who work in the industry behind the seams.

The coolest thing about fashion is the ability to express yourself. I’ve always been on this mission to scout brands, retailers, and non-profit organizations using this vehicle for a great cause. From TOMS to The Giving Keys, I’ve had a little bit of success. But Freedom & Fashion was the breath of fresh air that I had always been looking for.

For those of you who have never heard of this groundbreaking initiative, Freedom & Fashion is a non-profit organization using fashion as a way to help and heal sex trafficking, homeless, and victims dealing with injustice, providing them with that perfect outlet to tell their stories through fashion.

Laverne Delgado-Small is the Executive Director of the organization. She also happens to be a fellow FIDM Alumna! Laverne talks about her time in the industry, her calling to serve with Freedom & Fashion, and the ways you can get involved in our interview with her.

At what point in your life did you realize that fashion was your passion and calling? 

When I saw the undeniable power it has to help, heal, and communicate with others. I learned that fashion was created by God and that He used it to express forgiveness and compassion. When I realized how much truth and power was behind that, I had to step into it.

What inspired you to launch Fashion and Freedom? 

Being in the fashion industry taught me a lot, although I always knew there was more to it than creating beautiful clothing. When Freedom and Fashion approached me to join the team, I figured that the opportunity would at least get me one step closer to the more I was searching for. I have discovered more than I have ever imagined [since joining the organization], and I haven’t looked back since.

What accomplishments have you and your team achieved towards your mission?

We have served nearly 100 young people this year—each with a specific calling and strength. We are fortunate to have to the opportunity to walk with them on their journey, and trust me when I say that every step is a success.

In what way do you hope to influence the world with fashion? 

The fashion industry needs to make our ears awake to the roar of young leaders like those we serve. They are not only creative and innovative—they are warriors. Their talents come out of that strength. Their stories are transforming the lives of those around them. It’s foolish not to listen. If I can inspire others the pay attention to these young, overcoming designers, then I’m doing my job.

How can others join the cause? 

Our website is a great tool with more information about our cause. We are also always accepting donations for our youth and their programs. Every dollar has a tremendous impact and is always appreciated.

If you want to volunteer, feel free to email us. Time is valuable. Our youth know that more than anyone and like us, are very thankful!

MORE ABOUT LAVERNE DELGADO-SMALL

Laverne Delgado-Small is a passionate activist, philanthropist, speaker, artist, and Executive Director of Freedom and Fashion. She is an alumna of The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and has spent many years working in the fashion industry, with her experience encompassing everything from mass production to couture for the runway. Beyond fashion, Laverne has a love for at-risk young women and has built her life around serving them with her talents and resources. She has led many teams and served as a women’s pastor at Mosaic, a community of faith that has been named one of the most influential churches in America. Throughout the years, Laverne has activated generosity in thousands of people, which has led to providing resources to people in need around the world. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband Smallz, and cat Graceland.

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Johnaé Elease

Founder

Johnaé Elease is the founder of The Happy Joy. As someone whose personality is often described as bright & bubbly, her love for writing and sharing meaningful advice sparked the idea for this online community. Johnaé is also a humble servant of Christ who credits God, and her mother, as the primary reasons for her happiness.

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