There is a power in fashion that we may forget to recognize in our hectic, day-to-day schedules. It can uplift, reminding us how beautiful every body is; it can empower, a type of armor to make us feel stronger; and it can tell a story, of who each of us is. Fashion is a reminder that we are all so worth loving.
And that’s the message behind lifestyle clothing company, So Worth Loving, which opened its first brick-and-mortar store in East Atlanta earlier this month. The brand focuses on celebrating individuality, passion and, most importantly, self-worth through apparel and other goods. Though the powerful meaning of So Worth Loving is worthy of a feature itself, the background of how this brand came to be in 2011 is just as cool.
“We started as a blog on Tumblr!” says Eryn Erickson, SWL founder and owner. “I offered to anyone that followed my blog to send me their personal T-shirts to my home address and I would simply paint the phrase ‘so worth loving’ and mail it back. I simply wanted to tell others that they are worthy of love no matter what, and hope they carried this message with them so that others didn’t feel alone. Then and now, it’s our community that truly inspires So Worth Loving. We exist because of it. The stories of struggle, hardship and victory are the heartbeat of [SWL], and we wouldn’t be here if not for that.”
Eryn began stenciling and spray painting “so worth loving” across her shirts and those of her friends. Her blog was geared toward people talking about their struggles with self-worth; eventually though, everyone just wanted to be able to buy the shirts directly, instead of sending them to her to get the SWL treatment. And voila, a brand was born!
For more than four years, Eryn and her team sold their wares online … until this month, when SWL found a home in East Atlanta to show off its inspirational goods in person. The store sells T-shirts, pullovers, beanies, leather cuffs and more with different variations of the SWL message and logo. In addition to SWL’s own apparel, accessories and prints, Eryn says the East Atlanta store will also carry like-minded brands that are empowering their own communities. Those include The Giving Keys, which provides jobs to the homeless; Sseko Designs, providing jobs to women in Uganda; Public-Supply, which gives 25 percent of their profits to a high-need classroom that directs funds for a creative project; and TOMS, which started with its One for One program and now gives back to needy communities in lots of amazing ways.
SWL’s aesthetic includes simple lines; black, white and gold accents; a vintage feel with natural textiles … and, of course, a positive environment. Apparel is available for women, men and even a junior line that just started online.
I asked Eryn, who grew up in Clarksville and Alpharetta, how SWL would navigate the murky waters of the fashion industry’s unrealistic beauty standards and promotion of body types that just don’t exist in real life. She says that she “hopes to create product you can dress up or dress down. That the type of product we create will be the kind you wear out, so you may spread this message and remind others of the importance to know your worth. We want every body type to feel comfortable and stylish in our apparel! We believe that when you begin to live your life knowing you have worth, your decisions are different, the image of yourself is different and what anyone else could say against you just bounces right off.”
SWL calls itself a “lifestyle clothing company,” due to the fact that they continue to stay true to their roots beyond merchandise — letting their followers express themselves, their stories and their struggles. Visitors to the website can share their stories by emailing them to [email protected], perhaps “bringing light to someone else’s tunnel.” Those who come to the East Atlanta store can write stories, encouraging words or kind notes in a specified area that will go out to online orders.
The best way to end this article about such an inspiring brand is to let its owner/founder get in the last word:
“Our goal is to share stories from our community that will leave people never feeling alone,” Eryn says. “We want to be the ‘me too’ community — fearless in sharing and always caring. [SWL] is more than a brand, but a message of hope for those who don’t like what they see in the mirror. It’s for every young boy or girl, for every mother or father, for every lost soul who feels alone. We exist because they give us meaning. They are our source of strength. It’s very hard to not be labeled in our world today, so we want everyone to know they are labeled as ‘loved’ above all.”
So Worth Loving is located at 535 Gresham Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30316. The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. (closed on Monday and Tuesday) Make sure to visit SWL’s Tumblr page — you can hear the heartfelt, personal stories of those inspired by the message that SWL is trying to spread.
A huge thank you to Farrah Parrish for sharing her lovely photos of So Worth Loving.