Entrepreneur's Guide to work/life balance May 17, 2018 20:14Work/play balance advice by founder Hayley: how I randomly became an entrepreneur based on fate and determination to fulfill a global need + tips I've learned along the way for staying happy personally.
Staff Picks for Mother's Day May 03, 2018 11:47
Mother's Day is in just over a week and perhaps you're that last minute gifter :). Having a hard time finding the perfect gift for your queen of a mama that balances between heart warming, practical, classic and chic? We have the perfect "gifts that give" ideas that'll make mom smile ear to ear!
Pam's PicksPam the PR director of MADI Apparel and the Director of our non-profit MADI Donations. She's also a mom! Founder Hayley's mom to be exact :). In fact - she's so important that Hayley named "The Pamela" Cheeky Brazilian after her. Hayley designed the style not really based on what Pam wears necessarily, but the fun, petite, CHEEKY, free feeling of the brazilian cut reminded her of her mom when designing. Here are Pam's favorite pairs of MADI undie styles (and she prefers to buy them in ivory!):
"The Mimi" Modest Bikini (left) is the perfect style for someone who is obsessed with comfort and likes full coverage in the back but isn't a fan of a high rise brief. She's our most popular bamboo panty.
"The Kaydee" Brazilian is our most popular panty of all. Pam likes it because it's a good combo of fun and flirty but also very comfortable. The back fits like our Kyle Boyshort - so not ultra cheeky but definitely not full coverage. This is for the mom who loves comfy lace. The best thing about this panty is the wide lace laces wonderfully on mama curves. Skinny laces have the tendency to interrupt our womanly figure, but this wide lace accentuates and moves with the natural curves of our bodies!
^^Here's cutie Pam in front of #MADImobile at Fox4News KC
"My mom loves our bamboo Sleep Tank! I may have to buy one for her again this year :)."
^^Perfect pick for women of any age, any size. The loose fit is very flattering on many body types!
These are Laney's mom's favorite things about the sleep tank:
1. It's super flowy and breathable.
2. Still looks and feels brand new even after numerous washes. The fabric is sooo soft and high quality!
3. She loves how it's longer than most tanks and longer in back for more coverage.
^^ This top is particularly high rated by pregnant and/or nursing moms! Pregnant moms love the relaxed, loose fit. Amazing to bring in her hospital bag for birthing day! Nursing moms love how you can simply pull the front to the side while keeping everything else in tact. This tank feels like clouds and gives moms a little piece of heaven during hectic, busy days!
"My mom also adores the sleep tank! It's just so comfy. This year, I'm thinking of getting her a pj set - another bamboo sleep tank (since I know she loves those) and then pairing with sleep shorts since she doesnt have those yet!!"
"I hope my mom doesn't see this as she, too, has a few words at the top of this article :))! I think my mom already has one of our bamboo robes, but I'll probably get her another in a different color because they are SOOO COMFY."
Things moms love most about "The Karen" Restful Robe:
- Perfect for all ages. This full coverage robe has a little sexy and mostly modest. It hits just above the knee.
- Great for getting ready, drying hair and putting on makeup
- Self-wicking, super super soft and breezy.
We hope these help guide you in your gift giving journey for mom! Make sure to order from us before May 9th to ensure deliver before Mother's Day!!
XO, Team MADI
Upcoming mobile boutique popup events in your city! April 25, 2018 09:58
We're finalizing our list of spring and summer events and looking to add fall and winter to our calendar! Here's what we've got coming up:
= MADI Mobile popup (if no icon, we're popping up without the camper)
Stay tuned for add-ons this summer in Chicago and Denver!
KC FLAGSHIP STORE EVERY WEEKEND:
MADI Apparel flagship store
1659 Summit, Kansas City MO
Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm
Know any shopping festivals in your city this fall or winter? Please give us a holler at email@example.com!
xo, team MADI
10 Eco Friendly Wedding Ideas - for The Earth Conscious Bride April 19, 2018 19:09
Co-written by two boss babes + fair fashion enthusiasts
Friends MADI founder Hayley and mindfully sourced fashion company NOVAA co-founder Bridget each give tips for how to have the beautiful wedding of your dreams while staying true to your eco-conscious ethics!
1. Ask for Eco-Friendly Intimates...ahem :)
You knew we had to lead with this...right? :) BRIDES magazine featured MADI Apparel in their 8 Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Wedding Shower. "Being showered with sexy new lingerie is a fun part of many bridal celebrations. If intimates are in the cards for you, ask gift givers to look to MADI Apparel (Make a Difference Intimate Apparel), a gorgeous line of ecofriendly underwear, sleep tops, robes, and bralettes." Our products are made of only the most luxuriously long-lasting, sustainable fabrics we could find. If I could live forever in one item it would be our dreamy bamboo sleep top pictured in the pj set below!
For day-of under-dress attire, we recommend: The Diana Ivory Lace Thong
This wide stretchy lace lays perfectly over the natural curve of your body and will enhance your figure without getting in the way on your wedding day!
Fabric: Stretch Knit Viscose from Bamboo: 95% Bamboo 5 % Rayon + 5" Floral Lace Boyshort Fit Band / Organically sustainable, odor resistant and dries super fast!
For day-of getting ready, we recommend: The Karen Bamboo Robe
Pictured above is my girl Bridget on her wedding day wearing The Karen bamboo robe. We both wore this super soft and cloud-like robe while we were getting ready the day-of!
The Karen Restful Robe is super silky and comfy - you'll wanna wear it when you wake up, after you shower, putting on your makeup, reading a book, etc...AND YOU CAN! :). Perfect for brides and bridal parties for "day-of" getting ready!
For honeymoon attire, we recommend: Bamboo PJ Set
2. Opt for a colorful gemstone instead of a diamond for your engagement ring.
Colorful stones are unique - seriously, chances are no one will have the combination of stones you do - and true to YOUR style. "An Earth-friendly and conflict-free gemstone is less expensive and more durable than the traditional diamond," says The Knot in Green Weddings - Are Your Rings Earth-Friendly and Conflict Free?.
My husband and I went to custom design my engagement ring before we got married. It was the coolest shop ever and they brought out a big tray filled of hundreds of colorful gemstones in little dishes. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. We chose Rose Quartz and lime green Peridot for my ring!
^My husband and I went to design my engagement ring at a custom design shop in Charlotte, NC.
3. Create a wooden logo stamp!
This is an amazing little tool that you'll hold on to AND USE forever - even after the wedding! Instead of paying ridiculous printing costs for everything, use one ink stamp (swap out different colors for fun.)
Step 1. Create a timeless wedding monogram with you and your spouse's initials.
Step 2. Use the wedding monogram stamp on EVERYTHING! :)
Examples for what to use stamp for:
Thank you cards: Use recycled card stock or use a paper cutter to slice up large pieces of any thick white paper you have lying around into 4x6 size and stamp one side of the card.
Wedding Guest Gifts: Grab some eco-friendly bleach free dye free muslin bags (like we use for our product packaging) and stamp your wedding logo on them! (See gift idea below)
4. Gift plants or seeds to your wedding guests or bridal party
- GIFTING SEEDS: Buy wildflower or herb seeds (for super cheap) in bulk. Grab some eco-friendly bleach free dye free muslin bags (like we mention above) and stamp your wedding logo on them! (See stamp idea above) Then, pour seeds in each! Your guests will think of you when they plant their seeds. You'll create something "forever" in their hearts and garden :).
- GIFTING PLANTS: Another idea for small wedding guest list or bridal party...start by buying one or two succulents for your home or office right after you become engaged :). Whenever a leave falls from the succulent, re-plant in a new pot. You'll then grow a new succulent! Keep doing this until you have created a little collection.
5. Re-make family member's wedding dress or veil into your own special, timeless renovation
My sweet mama offered up her wedding dress for me to use however I wanted. I gratefully took her up on this and considered it good luck as she's been happily married for 35 years to my dad! So, I took the scalloped lace from her wedding dress and used it for the end of my very very long veil train. Her dress was off the shoulder, and I took this off-the-shoulder section and re-made that piece for my rehearsal dinner dress!
^Veil created by Munisa, designer of Munelle de Vie
6. Choose flower and plant decor that you can dry or keep alive for years
^Photos: Sarabeth Miller
^Hayley chose to repurpose the pampas grass and hand-strung flowers from her wedding in her home and in our shop!
7. Choose a color palate and ask bridesmaids to repurpose a dress in their closet or rent one! (Applies for groomsmen too!)
8. THRIFT WHAT YOU CAN'T RENT
Go antiquing for vintage plates and glassware. There are a ton of awesome vintage finds that you can decorate you tables and spaces with - mix and match candelabras, frames, vases, you name it!! Get created and keep those gems out of landfills. If you're a wild one and not into traditional china, keep the vintage plates and glassware in your home and register for other fun stuff that you prefer instead of china!
9. ECO FRIENDLY BRIDESMAIDS GIFTS
I gifted all of my maids Mata Traders Necklaces. These gorgeous jewels were handcrafted at a fair trade artisan cooperative in India using earth friendly materals. More info here:
By supporting these artisans you are helping women to progress in a stratified society by empowering them with meaningful work and economical independence.
The designs and techniques used help preserve an art form by keeping alive craft traditions that date back centuries.
Each purchase helps combat child labor by providing opportunities for women, so they can send their children to school. Found at
Can be found here:
10. Dry or donate your wedding flowers
^Example of hanging flower wall at MADI Apparel
DONATE: When it's all said and done after your special day, if you aren't sure what to do with your flowers and you don't want to keep them, this org donates wedding flowers to healthcare, hospice, senior resident and social service communities throughout Kansas city.
We hope you find these tips helpful for throwing the eco-friendly wedding of your dreams!!
Hayley and Bridget
Before and after camper renovation of MADI Apparel's new mobile boutique March 31, 2018 18:52
Founder Hayley reveals the dirty details, sweat, labor and the totally-worth-it finishing touches she and her husband put into our brand new mobile boutique, #MADImobile, from start to finish! Meet the tiniest luxury underwear boutique (with the biggest purpose) complete with a contemporary living moss wall and walnut wood display table!
Grand Opening of MADI Mobile boutique at First Fridays KC! March 28, 2018 12:14Save the Date for April 6th, 2018 and come celebrate MADI Apparel's newest storefront on wheels at First Fridays in the Kansas City Crossroads! Grand Opening of MADI Mobile: "Rolling out" the tiniest intimate apparel fashion boutique of all time!
Q&A with model Gabriella Hart: on Diversity and Women's Empowerment March 26, 2018 23:02In light of both Black History Month and Women's History Month in February and March, we interviewed power woman (MADI model and friend) Gabriella Hart, about her feelings surrounding diversity and womanhood, specifically as a black model.
NEW PRODUCT: Bamboo Sleep Shorts JUST LAUNCHED! March 19, 2018 19:46
BRAND NEW: BAMBOO SLEEP SHORTS
Hey guys, we are so excited to announce the launch of a brand new product in our Spring Summer 2018 Loungewear/Sleepwear Collection: "The Simone" Bamboo Sleep Shorts! We've nicknamed them cloud shorts because they're so light, soft and comfy that you'll hardly feel them!
3 best things about our new sleep shorts:
1. They're ECO-FRIENDLY! made from the comfiest, most luxurious viscose from bamboo sustainable fabric.
- Stretch Knit Viscose from Bamboo: 95% Bamboo 5 % Rayon
- Fabric = luxuriously soft, organically sustainable, odor resistant and dries super fast!
- What is athleisure??
- InStyle says: "We’re talking about anything from designer leggings of the Lululemon variety to cashmere sweats to layering pieces to absurdly fancy (and expensive) gym clothes. Athleisure is bigger than a trend, as evidenced by the people who wear yoga pants anywhere. The need for everyday comfort, too, plays a role, especially for anyone trying to work fitness into an already overtaxed schedule. Who wants to haul an extra outfit to work?"
3. Designed to feel like clouds on your bootay.
- Literally, founder Hayley's number one goal in designing this comfy shorts was this: MAKE THEM NON RESTRICTING.
- We don't use elastics in our panties for comfort reasons - this sets us apart. We did the same thing with these sleep shorts and instead of an elastic band, we made our own drawstrings out of the stretch viscose bamboo fabric the shorts are made of. So, they'll stay up on your hips at whatever level of tightness you prefer! The bamboo drawstring is so cute and doesn't tug!
- If you haven't yet tried our bamboo products, we'd love for you to! We double dog dare you (yeah we said it) to find another fabric so silky, flowy, soft, long-lasting AND sustainable!
Sizes: S: 4-6 / M: 6-8, L: 10-12. More sizes coming soon.
We've been working very hard to launch this product for over a year and can't wait for you to try!! Please send any feedback here: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photos in this post: Naomi Reed Photography
What is the difference between sexual assault and domestic violence? October 17, 2017 18:07
MADI Apparel and other organizations invite you to observe National Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October. This is an opportunity to learn more on how to help and support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Ironically, with the recent news surrounding sexual assault allegations of powerful men, now more than ever is the time to learn, speak up, and be there for victims and survivors.
More than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime*
According to the Office on Women’s Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sexual assault is any type of forced or coerced sexual contact or behavior that happens without consent.
Sexual assault can include the following:
- Attempted Rape
- Sexual Coercion
- Fondling or unwanted touching above or under clothes
- Any type of sexual contact with someone who cannot consent, such as someone who is underage, has an intellectual disability, or is passed out
Sexual assault is not just a physical act, it can also be verbal or visual. This includes:
- Voyeurism, or peeping (when someone watches private sexual acts without consent)
- Exhibitionism (when someone exposes himself or herself in public)
- Sexual harassment or threats
- Forcing someone to pose for sexual pictures
Young Women between the ages of
16 and 24
Experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence and sexual assault
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control).
Since domestic violence can include sexual assault, the two definitions can overlap. Meanwhile, legal definitions for the two vary by state, but you can check out http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?statelaw_name=Crimes&state_code=GE to view your states definition and explanation.
Regardless of the crime, it is not the victims fault. Below are some great resources to learn more and where you can find help.
Last Chance 40% off Sale on ALL Coral Items! Also Introducing Black Robes! September 29, 2017 12:14
Looking for something new instead? Check out the latest Karen Robe in Black! Perfect for those brisk Fall mornings or for reading a book on a Sunday afternoon - or really anything with a go-to color like black. Pair it with our Molly Bralette and Diana in black or wear with one of our sleep tops and some leggings.
We have some exciting things coming up so be sure to check back soon!
- Team MADI
Cheers to 3 Years! September 07, 2017 17:20
Over the past 3 years, MADI Apparel and Donations has:
TONIGHT - Sept. 7th from 6-8 pm, We are saying thank you to Kansas City with a happy hour! All of the fun takes place at MADI Apparel at 1659 Summit Street, Kansas City, Missouri. We'll be serving up apps + drinks (to those who are 21 and over) to visitors and up to 40% off on select items for shoppers.
- THIS WEEKEND - Sept. 7th-10th, Shop our store online and save on select items. Up to 40% off! Shop here: https://madiapparel.com/collections/sale
- For every intimate purchased, we donate a pair of underwear
- Your purchase helps employ women in Kansas City
- Your purchase is made of viscose from bamboo and/or long-lasting laces; Eco-friendly fabrics that lower your end waste and can be washed, dried and worn for years!
Thank you for helping us Make a Difference over the last three years!
We Are Summer Lovin' Our Pop-Ups! August 13, 2017 18:40
This summer MADI Apparel has hosted two pop-up shops in our beautiful Kansas City flagship store and will be hosting a third later this month! These pop-up shops are Noble Native by Sarah Hicks, By Grace Designs by Emily Moon, and Modern Mija by Emily Sharp. Each one is socially conscious through sustainable and slow-fashion. Although two of the pop-up shops have officially moved out of MADI (Noble Native and By Grace Designs), we still want to tell you about these awesome boss babe-run companies!
Modern Mija - Sarah Sharp
Modern Mija is a new brand that focuses on modern and trendy clothing for children. Sharp’s mission is to provide children with clothing that is just as fashionable as the clothing worn by the adults who surround them. The brand carries multiple designers and has an impressive Instagram feed! Modern Mija will be in MADI Apparel August 17 - September 17!
Noble Native - Sarah Hicks
Noble Native was founded in 2016 by Sarah Hicks. The company believes in sustainable fashion and fair working conditions and wages for factory workers. The pieces sold by Noble Native are fashion forward and trendy. Each piece is sure to make you stand out from the crowd! Check out a few of their pieces below:
By Grace Designs - Emily Moon
By Grace Designs is an organization that believes in educating, employing, empowering, and elevating. All of the pieces in this shop are made by at-risk women and are sweatshop free. The main value in this company is empowering women. Emily Moon is doing an amazing thing by creating these pieces with women empowerment in mind. Check out a few pieces from By Grace Designs below:
Be sure to come back to MADI Apparel August 17 - September 17 for Modern Mija and to check out Noble Native and By Grace Designs online! Every Saturday, stop by MADI Apparel for complimentary lemonade, a look at Modern Mija, and exclusive deals at our next-door-neighbor, Westside Local!
MADI Apparel Has Been Featured in Startland News! June 29, 2017 00:03
We are so excited to have been featured in Kansas City's innovation news source, Startland News! Startland News reporter Meghan LeVota writes about MADI's mission of helping at-risk women by donating a pair of underwear to a woman in need for every MADI item sold. The article also discusses MADI's new program launching this summer called MADI Makes - a program developed by our non-profit MADI Donations to train and employ at-risk women in Kansas City to sew our products. Click here to read the entire article!
This photo was taken by story reporter Meghan LeVota.
MADI AT VON MAUR May 11, 2017 17:38
Yep, you read that right, you can now find MADI's amazing products at Von Maur! We are SO excited to announce this HUGE secret we have been keeping! (& we know you've been waiting to hear and are just as excited as we are!) We are so proud to announce that we are being sold in our FIRST partnered department store!
You can find our undies in 3 of their store locations: Chicago (Lombard), Omaha, and Minneapolis (Eden Prairie).
Von Maur is a department store based out of Davenport, Iowa with locations throughout the Midwest and Southern United States. They offer a wide selection of brand-name clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty items accompanied by excellent customer service. We couldn't be more excited to have our products featured in their stores!
Partnered Donation Organizations:
The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) provides leadership and resources for sexual assault programs and allies to prevent sexual violence while promoting a comprehensive, socially just response for all victims/survivors. We support, convene, and collaborate with sexual assault programs, advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement officers to promote a more victim-centered response to sexual violence, and increase effective criminal justice. Our prevention programs take action before someone is harmed, and we work with policy makers and elected officials for laws and programs that fight sexual violence.
We are SO excited for this opportunity to expand our efforts in empowering women everywhere! For EVERY pair sold at these locations we will donate a pair to a woman in need in that city.
We truly could not have gotten to this point without you all who have supported us throughout this journey.
Cheers to another exciting adventure!
Kind Bride Collection May 09, 2017 08:00
Wedding season is in full swing and that means our brides need day-of-wedding attire and maybe something special for the honeymoon! We've got the perfect mix of romantic & classic lingerie ranging from panties, sleepwear and robes. These are perfect for a bride who loves quality, luxurious garments and has a giving heart! Our robes are great for the whole bridal party too! We offer special pricing packages for several combo packs too!
As always, for every intimate sold, we donate a pair of underwear to a woman in need. Made in Kansas City from luxurious long-lasting fabrics.
To order more than one robe for a bridal party, email our team for discount pricing : email@example.com
Mother's Day (Specials) Gift Guide! May 04, 2017 22:25
Outfit of the Week: Spring Has Sprung! April 10, 2017 19:07
Forbes names MADI Apparel one of 25 Valentine's Day Gifts That Give Back! February 11, 2017 18:48
This is so cool! We were so excited to see Forbes and contributing writer Vanessa McGrady named MADI in their "Vday Gifts That Give Back" Guide! In the article, McGrady writes about how Love Wins in 2017 (and how giving gifts that give are the coolest current trend), "What's sexier than knowing that the above comes from a source that gives back to people and organizations who need it most?"
The Forbes article also includes give-back brands: Moustache Tie Bar, Awe jewelry, the Shine Project, Violet Wears, Bravely, Health 2 Humanity soap, Crane & Canopy luxury bedding, Vessel and a few other cool brands that make giving an essential element of their business mission!
Click here to read the whole gift guide!
ReBlog: "Confessions of a Ladyshark" - the story of how the world’s most misunderstood predator revived a deeply broken soul February 10, 2017 19:41
MADI Apparel began with a desire to make a difference in lives of survivors of domestic violence, rape and natural disasters, then, that desire evolved into an idea for a brand that could make a difference through underwear, a brand that could also cut and sew garments domestically creating jobs and ensuring fair labor conditions, and a brand that could use high quality fabrics-not only for the women purchasing them, but particularly the women receiving the donations. From there, MADI Apparel was born with a mission to be America's most impactful intimates. And to this day, we have never wavered in our desire or our mission. We continue to strive to give as many of these heroic women underwear as we can, but we also strive for more than that, we strive to bring them a little more comfort, and mostly, a little more confidence.
In the words of our founder, "I came up with MADI Apparel because MADI is a common woman's name. Anytime I meet a survivor and she thanks us for donating underwear, I picture my family member telling me her story, years ago. I wanted other women who buy MADI undies to picture a woman - with a name, who matters - and know that her purchase of underwear will help a woman in need."
We are so honored to team up with Kori Garza as she's telling her story for the first time...about how sharks saved her life from the real predator - her own husband. Kori is the reason we do what we do, Kori is the ladyshark that we hope all of the women who receive our underwear become.
Kori says she teamed up with us "not only to support their cause, but to support the women that rely on them. Because I was once one of those women. There is a ladyshark within you, waiting to be awoken."
To donate a pair of underwear - the most intimate, dignity-filled article of clothing - to a woman like Kori on a journey to safety, empowerment and recovery, simply buy any MADI intimate for yourself. Read Kori's story and find discount code for web orders <3 #ladyshark
To see the original story and pictures, click HERE.
Exposed and vulnerable but not weak; baring all in broad daylight to represent the many women who remain silent fighting their battles in the dark. Stay strong; we are fighting with you. FEATURING MADI APPAREL, AMERICA'S MOST IMPACTFUL INTIMATES LINE. For every pair of intimates sold a pair is donated to women in need at domestic violence shelters, during disaster relief, and at hospital rape crisis centers.
/Image by Amber Boutot/
Please help support MADI in their efforts.
Visit www.madiapparel.com and use promo code "ladyshark" at checkout.
When we were young our mothers prepared us for the monsters of this world. As children we peeked beneath our beds. As adolescents we learned to lock our doors. As developing women we learned to walk in well lit areas. Our fathers taught us the importance of the way a man should treat a woman.
However; what went untold is that not all monsters come equipped with seemingly endless rows of teeth. Sometimes, the most dangerous monsters enter our lives unnoticed. Sometimes, they are the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. Disguised beneath illusions of a love so unfathomably deep and beneath a mirage of good intention we welcome them into our hearts and homes.
I was twenty two years young when I met my monster.
And in the beginning, if even for what only feels like a moment, I truly loved him. Every word he spoke I accepted as truth. My clouded mind and heart smothered out the instinctual warning felt resonating throughout my bones.
He was handsome. He was compassionate. He was the most charismatic person I had ever met. I was mesmerized. I was hopeful.
I was naive.
Within two weeks he had convinced me to leave the solitude of my home. Within three weeks he had convinced me to leave my work. It took four weeks to become completely dependent upon him for survival without realizing.
And then suddenly this perfect man began to shift into a slightly less recognizable form each day until nothing but a stranger stood before me.
He was condescending. He was manipulative. He was untrustworthy. I was isolated. I was unemployed. I was homeless.
I had given him every ounce of control over my life and I was now playing by his rules.
Survival in Hawaii is difficult. Cost of living is borderline unreasonable. Decent employment opportunities are few and far between. Affordable housing is nonexistent. Survival in Hawaii is difficult; unless you are a member of the armed forces. And he was. It was easy for him to convince me to stay. It was easy for me to justify his actions and the reasons I should have left.
What I knew is that he had been married before.
What I had thought that I didn’t know was that he hadn’t told the military of his divorce and was now fraudulently using married pay to provide for us. And that he had been caught. And my only way out of being homeless, jobless, and alone in Hawaii was immediate nuptials.
What I actually didn’t know is that he was still married.
And that he had perfectly timed this fabricated situation to have a second marriage aligned just days after the finalization of his divorce in order to keep the pay and benefits so desperately needed for survival.
By the time I had discovered the truth it was too late. I had told my mother I had met the man I intended to spend the rest of my life with. I had told my father I had met a good man just like I promised I would. They had already scrambled to arrange my “spontaneous and intimate” beach ceremony and were on the way to Hawaii. I was too ashamed of myself to tell the truth. I was too ashamed at what my family would think of their weak, naive daughter. I remained silent.
I was twenty two years young when I married my monster.
I put on the dress. I wore the haku. I carried the flowers. I walked down the aisle barefoot in the sand.
Shaking from fear I made a vow that day. A vow to myself. That if I were to become a wife, I would not do it half heartedly. I would forgive. I would love.
Ku'u aloha no na kau a kau.
He made a vow too that day too. And although I heard the words, they held no weight.
Three days. That’s all I had with my husband before he was sent away for training. I had two months of solitude. Two much needed months where I reflected, healed, and learned to forgive and begin anew. I was ready to build a life and I was ready to be a wife. I wanted to start our lives hand in hand, embarking on an adventure.
When he finally returned we hiked the ridge lines of the Na Pali Coast. We swam beneath the lush waterfalls of Kalalau. We slept in sea caves shared with rock crabs and bullfrogs. We counted the stars each night and felt invincible. We flew across the country and explored his home town. We laughed with old friends. We ate hushpuppies until we couldn’t breathe. We giggled and held hands as we watched manatees play in shallow mangroves.
And then one night everything changed.
I was 22 years young when my husband almost took my life.
I saw the eyes of the man I loved go cold as he stared right through me while he wrapped his hands around my throat. I fought for my life against the man that vowed to protect and cherish me until the end of time.
And then I watched the world turn dark.
When I woke I was laying in a ditch on the side of a New Smyrna Beach backroad. Within moments an officer was asking my name. He asked if I could breathe. He asked if I had known who did this to me. A local resident had heard my screams and called for help. My mind couldn’t grasp whether this was my reality or some strange nightmare as I whispered the words, “my husband”. They took pictures of my body. I had never felt so alone and exposed. I couldn’t explain it, but even in that moment I felt fear overtake me as I suddenly felt the need to protect him.
They called him. He answered. I listened as the officer told my husband that I had been attacked. I listened as my husband told the officer he hoped I was dead just before hanging up the phone. In that moment, I wish I had died too.
The next morning my husband woke and wondered where his wife was.
The only person I wanted to console me was the very person that had done this to me. It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now. The moment the door opened his eyes immediately locked onto the black bruises wrapping around my neck, only made distinguishable into the shape of hands by torn skin and blood vessels broken in between them. I watched his eyes fill with tears as he broke down. I frantically watched as he began to talk his way out of it.
"This has never happened before."
"This must be PTSD from Afghanistan.”
“I love you so much. I would never hurt you on purpose.”
And then I watched the conversation turn.
“If the army hears about this I will lose my job.”
"We will lose our home.”
"You will end up back in Missouri.”
"Is that what you want?”
Because of the severity of the situation, the state of Florida was pressing charges on my behalf. Suddenly I went from the victim to the person destroying our lives should I tell the truth. And so I went to the court and made a written testimony that I didn’t remember what had happened to me.
He was free. And the moment that he knew that he would no longer be held liable for his actions, he was no longer liable to experience the guilt and responsibility of his actions either. And compassion was no longer welcome in his mind.
And so we went home.
I just kept thinking that everything would be fixed, we just needed to get back to Hawaii. But part of me never left the side of Saxon Road that night. And it didn’t matter where I was, nothing was fixed and nothing was okay. Night terrors haunted me incessantly. I couldn’t stand to be touched, which only made him more frustrated and angry with me. Sharing a bed with him made me feel like a thousand insects were trying to eat their way out from underneath my skin. I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks. I wouldn’t speak for days. I would lay in bed and play that night over and over in my head, wishing I hadn’t fought back.
Until finally I had found within me a reason to live, and I could breathe again. And the air didn’t feel so heavy anymore. I felt a purpose and love so deep that I felt saved. Until it left me. And I experienced a loss deeper than I could have ever imagined. And I entered a new depth of darkness I never knew was possible.
And it only got worse.
I was no longer allowed to be sad. I was no longer allowed to feel pain. I was no longer allowed to grieve. I couldn’t talk about it with him. But I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone else either. I was shamed for my emotions and told I needed to get over it. I was told I didn’t know what broken was until I’ve had my best friends die in my arms at the hands of explosives. I was mocked. I was ignored. The emotional and verbal abuse hurt worse than any of the physical. Those wounds healed. Scars formed and my body recovered. It was the mind and heart that suffered most.
After four months of internal terror and the loss of all will to live, fate brought me back to sharks.
I had always loved sharks and I had always known my life would be surrounded by them one way or another. I had studied them in my undergrad and planned on focusing my career path towards sharks before everything happened. I had done the SharkWeek episode earlier that year and it had opened the door for this new opportunity I was suddenly presented with to study shark behavior.
And so I decided to leave that godforsaken bed and fight for my life once more.
I threw myself entirely into my work and made the sharks my life. For the first time in months I had found the one place I felt at peace. When you are underwater with the sharks you are unable to think about anything going on above the surface. You become entirely focused on your interactions in that exact moment. How many sharks are surrounding you? Which sharks are dominant? Which shark is currently the alpha? Where do I need to place myself within the pack? Observe. Read their behavior. Remain dominant.
The thing about throwing yourself into a pack of 20-40 sharks every single day is that you can’t be weak. You can’t be uncomfortable. You can’t be uncertain in your movements and you can’t be complacent. You have to be an alpha. And so after hours that turned into days that turned into weeks that turned into months of observing shark behavior and interacting within the pack, I transformed. I was no longer this broken, fragile thing. I was an alpha. I was a ladyshark. And it reached a point where it translated to life above the surface as well. I had learned my own strengths and worth because the sharks had taught them to me.
After dedicating my life’s purpose to saving sharks, in the end it was the sharks that had saved me.
And the battle to protect them became more personal than I could have ever imagined. Because I owe my life to them. And no matter how much I try to do for them it will never be enough.
/Image by Juan Oliphant/
I became so focused on work that life outside of it didn’t exist. There was nothing but sharks. For a long time. And everything else in my life got set aside and ignored. I shoved all the dark, broken bits of my life into a corner and left them there as if they didn’t exist. And we pretended everything was fine. We put on the show and everyone admired us for it. We became #relationshipgoals and people envied our life together. But it was just that, only a show. While we praised and worshiped each other on social media we slept in separate bedrooms and hardly spoke in real life.
Eventually I sought help. We went to therapy both together and individually. My heart still ached for him and what he went through on deployment. I truly believed he was sick and broken and I had made a vow to be there for him in sickness and health. It wasn’t an excuse for the continually toxic environment he insisted on keeping me in, but I felt obligated to stay. So I did. He talked about his deployments. I vaguely talked about what I could without discussing any physical violence that could get him in trouble. But that wasn’t helping. It was just another person I wasn’t allowed to tell. I still wasn’t allowed to heal the way I needed. He was ordered to remain sober to prevent any dangerous circumstances. I told him I was willing to try to save the marriage if he gave me a reason to. He continually gave me reasons not to.
Finally I fought up the courage and asked for a divorce. Even then a bit of my heart held hope that there was a part of him in there capable of being saved. Even then he could have convinced me to stay just once more.
He under no circumstance wanted the divorce. He made that very clear. Months went by. He made it nearly impossible for me to leave. All of my finances were his. I had been supporting his every need and want to the point where I had nothing for myself. He fought hard for me to stay. He promised it would be different. He swore I was his life and that he will never let me go. Those words eventually turned into threats and promises of never letting me go. He began to sabotage my career every way he could imagine. And so he tried to take my life from me again; this time in the form of my passions. Ripping them from me and using them as a tool of revenge.
And that was the breaking point.
I packed a single backpack and bought a single ticket to Southeast Asia and told him I wasn’t coming home to him afterwards.
When I finally returned months later with divorce papers in hand; my nightmare was over. He had finally agreed to sign.
I was 24 years young when I rid my life of my monster.
It wasn’t until after the paperwork was signed and I felt uncomfortable enough to file a restraining order that I discovered that my monster was not my own. My monster belonged to many girls before me. This was not the first time anything like this had happened. In fact I was not even the second, third, or fourth girl. The girls before me stretched back as far as 11 years ago. Well before any time spent in the military and overseas. However, deployment PTSD as an excuse was just another fabrication. His staff sergeant confirmed that not only had he never been to Afghanistan, he had never been deployed on a single mission throughout his entire military career. He was not even affiliated to the unit he was claiming.
I remember the exact moment that I realized what I had done. I had given my life and heart to a complete stranger. Every memory, every last happy moment I had held on to was instantly torn from my mind. And I was left numb.
Even still, I remained silent.
I picked up the pieces. I carried on. I removed all access he could possibly have to my life. But he made sure I couldn’t forget. He tarnished my name and began a mission to break me in every indirect way he could think of. And even when I watched our friends turn their back on me; I remained silent. I would have rather played the monster in his world than welcome them into the shame I felt within mine. At least in his world I was the tormentor. At least in his world I had the upper hand. And although his world wasn’t real, somehow it soothed me.
For I wished so deeply that his world was truth. I would have gladly traded my truths for his fabrications; because in his world he was the weak one. And I was the monster.
And so I remained silent. And I chose to leave the island that once felt like home.
It has been some time now since then. And I have learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined through the journey. And I have rebuilt the broken bits of myself and have cherished them deeply for the lessons they provided. And there are moments where my monster haunts me even still, and I struggle to recognize just how far I’ve come and just how beautiful the journey can be.
But I am not that fragile, broken girl.
I am a ladyshark.
I am silent no more.
I will no longer be ashamed.
And I will continue to fight for my life.
I have decided to bare all not only as a form of healing for myself, but to help any other women who may relate to my story. Because this isn't about me. Or him. This is about inspiring you to conquer your monsters; whatever or whoever they may be.
Because falling victim to domestic violence does not make you weak.
Because “loving you too much” is never an acceptable excuse.
Because there is no acceptable excuse.
Because there is a ladyshark within you, waiting to be awoken.
Because I believe in you. And you are not alone.
/Image by Amber Boutot/
Introducing....Robes! (& Coral!) February 08, 2017 12:55
Check Out The Newest Boutiques We Sell In!! January 23, 2017 17:17
Revival 119-Iowa City, Iowa
Revival is a boutique located in Iowa City, Iowa opened in 2003 offering new, used and vintage women's clothing and accessories and are a mid-western style destination! Since opening they have outgrown their first space and re-opened in historic downtown's pedestrian mall in a space twice as large. While they have grown and evolved, they remain true to themselves and currently stock new clothes and accessories from brands like Dear Creatures, Tulle, and Knot Sisters. They also stock handmade and locally sourced jewelry and gifts, as well as vintage and resale items. MADI's donation partnered organization in Iowa is DVIP in Iowa City.
Clique Boutique- Prairie Village, KS
Clique is a boutique in Prairie Village, Kansas opened in 2011 bringing all the latest women's fashion trends to it's customers. Clique carries merchandise from categories like women's clothes, accessories, shoes and home goods. Their brands range from Vince, J Brand and Milly to local brands like Mer Sea, Jenesko and now, MADI! MADI's donation partnered organization with Clique will vary at the time and go to one of our 12 KC partnered organizations!
Thrive Pilates and Movement Studio- Kansas City, MO
Thrive is a pilates and movement studio located in Kansas City, Missouri. MADI has partnered with Thrive in the past for pop-up pilates sessions where all proceeds were used by MADI to create donation underwear! MADI's donation partnered organization with Thrive will be MOCSA/The Assistance League of Kansas City.
Hermosa Lingerie- British Columbia
Hermosa is a lingerie boutique located in British Columbia that carries lingerie for every day, as well as special occasions! Their selection includes bras and underwear, sleepwear, shapewear, loungewear, pajamas, hosiery and accessories. They also offer bra fittings, corsets, swimwear, jewelry and custom orders. And, we are very excited to share that Hermosa has recently reordered with us! MADI's donation partnered organization with Hermosa is Campbell River and North Island Transition Society in BC.
Lillie Boutique- Portland, Oregon
Lillie Boutique is a lingerie boutique located in Portland, Oregon started in 2007. They offer unique and hard to find brands from all over the world. Lillie strives to find brands that reflect their passion for quality construction, vintage inspiration, and garments made with modern women in mind. Their product selection ranges from bras and underwear to cozy loungewear, exquisitely crafted shoes and locally-made jewelry. They also cater to customers looking for natural shapes, organic fibers, and independent lines with ethically-sourced manufacturing. We are so excited that Lillie Boutique has recently places a reorder with us! MADI's donation partenered organization with Lillie is Jean's Place in Portland.
Calligramme Boutique-Pittsburgh, PA
Calligramme is a lingerie and loungewear boutique located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that opened their doors in 2014. Calligramme sources only USA made products ranging from lacey bralettes to crotchless panties. The boutique offers a unique feel adorned with mid-century-style furniture and vintage vinyls. Calligramme operates under a anti-consumerism and female empowerment motto and places great emphasis on knowing exactly where her garments are coming from. MADI's partnered donation organization with Calligramme is Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
Pipe and Row-Seattle, WA
Pipe and Row is a Seattle based boutique started in 2014 that offers women's clothing and accessories as well as home goods. Pipe and Row carries products sourced from Seattle to Los Angeles to Australia to Denmark. Pipe and Row was started by Seattle native, Kayla Boehme, with an apparel design background and the store was named after her twin niece and nephew Piper and Rowin! We love when people use family names as inspiration, just like MADI! MADI's donation partnered organization with Pipe and Row is Mary's Place in Washington.
Outfit of the Week: Cozying Up! December 08, 2016 17:28
Outfit of the Week: Holiday Party December 01, 2016 17:27
Outfit of the Week: Friendsgiving Dinner November 15, 2016 00:01
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