Behind the Brand Harlem Children’s Zone

This past October our founder Erin Carpenter had the pleasure of speaking to Harlem Children’s Zone after school program to the performing arts students. Erin has compiled a blog about her experience below…

The Harlem Children’s Zone is a non profit that focuses on education reform. Their goal is to end generational poverty through education. One of my passions lately is to show other artist and creative thinkers that their art can be used in business.
As an entrepreneur, I have come to realize that creativity truly keeps your business thriving. So many inventions come out of creative thinking. Creativity is used daily in the decisions you make for your business that set you up for success from your logo design, how you communicate your mission on social media, to strategy.
We are all creative. However, I think when we are young we are often taught to think a certain way, visualize or solve math problems at certain way, but the reality is that there is no one size fits all to how we learn, create or think. Perhaps you are more of a visual learner and so on. In my life the arts have been so valuable.
So I was so excited when I was invited to speak to the students about this topic and share my story. The talk started off with curated questions:
  • How does curiosity foster a love of learning?
  • How did I transform my curiosity/love of art into a business/career?
  • What pressures led to you selling your product?
  • What transformative life experience (if any) occur for you to look to your art as a business?
  • How does art reflect the concerns and desires of society?
  • What steps did you take or are taking with your art and passion to the next level?
Later we got into a Q&A with the students and faulty. The students shy at first, but eventually they asked me so many great questions. I loved that one of the male students asked “Why your product being for women, How do men fit into your business?
I loved this question because, it seemed that he felt that because he is a male that is excluded from my business. But no. I work with men all the time from manufacturing, developing marketing material, PR, the list goes on.
This opened his eyes to not view my business as only for women in every capacity. Showing the students the possibilities was my main goal. I was asked questions about how Nude Barre affects the globally economy so we discuss my relationship with other countries and manufacturing.
My biggest take away from this talk, is that I did not want to overwhelm the students with the idea that you need to know what you want to do when you grow up. We are often pushed so hard on figuring out who you are. But as I grow older I realize that you are always evolving. I always wanted to be a performer, and I did that and loved it! But while doing that I was so drawn to this “nude” dilemma and lack or diversity in garments which led me to being the founder and CEO of Nude Barre.
While creating and growing Nude Barre I started to think a lot about how the lack of diverse skin tone options in beauty and fashion alters how we view what is beautiful and what that does to our self-esteem.
So “who I want to be when I grow up” has shifted quiet a bit. I still love all of the things that I love, but I am on a journey and that is ok. I wanted to express this to the students and to let them know that evolving, failing, having ideas, are all great! My dad often says he doesn’t believe that you retire, you just find a new project or passion.

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