We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Giddens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Anyone who has watched me from the outside for the last 10 years would laugh if they heard me say “I’m not a risk-taker,” because I’m not. I like to go the the same restaurants, order the same thing, and drive there and back on the most direct and predictable route. Safe. Secure. Predictable. In the regular, every day routine of life, I’m pretty boring. Ask my kids – my husband brings the fun and spontaneity…I bring the rules and consistency. But when I decide to go big, I go really big. I get out there and chase something hard, full of conviction and no regrets. Like the time I helped launch Polished (polishedonline.org) to help connect young professional women to each other to explore faith together. No one was doing something like it, and we saw a need, so we went for it! It was a pretty big risk. Three years into that project, my husband and I decided to move to East Africa and start a social enterprise that empowered women. We risked everything and a lot of people knew about it. So when the job fell through 24 hours before we shipped our belongings, it was a very visible and heartbreaking disaster. But because we had an army of people that were watching us, we had an army of people to help us pick up the pieces. I learned the value of community and of sharing your journey – even the messy parts. This made me much less fearful of risk. And then there’s Vickery Trading Company. The biggest risk of all. Somewhere I got the idea that I’d take a group of women who didn’t speak English and didn’t know how to sew and teach them to sew (I didn’t sew at the time) then have them make cute kids clothes. Ironically, that’s where the risk made the most sense to me. I saw the struggles that refugee women were facing and I couldn’t ignore it. I saw how much they needed a friend to walk with them on their journey in their new home and I couldn’t keep going without doing something. My conviction to help overcame my fear of risk. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to keep walking the path of risk and do something that hasn’t been done in order to help people in ways that no one else was. So what is risk to me? It’s a challenge to overcome and an adventure to pursue head on. It’s what looks like a closed door to some, but I’ve found that it’s the best place to make an impact in our world.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Vickery Trading Co. equips refugee women for long-term success through vocational training, professional development and fair wages. We’re the only (known) fair wage manufacturing facility in DFW that hires and trains refugees for professional sewing careers. As a non-profit organization, VTC has leaned on the expertise and helping hands of countless volunteers to build our clothing line and educational programs from the ground up. We’ve come this far because we decided in the beginning that we weren’t going to give up. We want the world to know that an action as simple as purchasing clothes can be life-changing for the women in our program. We get to see lives change every day and we’re thrilled that our customers and donors get to be part of that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Vickery Meadow, for sure! Locally known as “the United Nations of Dallas,” it’s a cultural experience like no other. Chuy’s – because…why not?! Klyde Warren Park The Perot
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My hubby, Brad, gets the credit for me being where I am today. Vickery Trading without a doubt would not be where it is if it wasn’t for his dedication to the vision for creating VTC. He’s worked extra hard so I could work for free for years while starting VTC. In addition to that, he’s kept the kids, done dishes, laundry, cleaning, carpool, sports – often way more than his 50% share – so I could work, plan, build, network and research to launch VTC. He’s seen me as an equal working partner, even though my limited income and childcare costs were a total drain on the family budget. To this day, he’s VTC’s biggest cheerleader and I’m so thankful for him.
Alexis Marie Photography Holland Rainwater
Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.