When I was in the 7th grade I found a jacket that made me feel like I might actually grow out of the 7th grade. It was a motorcycle style denim jacket, black with big silver snaps. The collar stood up, but not too much and the pockets were perfectly positioned over my bottom rib and upper stomach. To me it looked like what my older beer-drinking Germany cousins had been wearing, or wanted to be wearing that summer. I seized it. I loved that jacket. I wore it all through college, when I moved out of home and in the winter with a giant sweatshirt under it. I wore it until it got shabby and wasn’t quite black anymore. In the end I lost it to a basement flood in a crappy apartment. The landlady threw it out. It was my velveteen rabbit. I never found another coat that was quite like it. (Don’t worry, I’ve found many other great coats, great shoes are a specialty of mine, and a few great handbags.)
At it’s core Volante Design is about giving people the feeling that coat gave me, of holy shit… I’m as cool as my cool cousins who I don’t want to admit I think are cool. I remember looking at that 90s euro version of myself and it helped me imagine myself as who I wanted to be, not the zitty, brace-faced reality that I was living with. Those teen years are a pretty intense time of figuring yourself out. Most of the time they sucked. I can only imagine that it’s a lot harder to get through them if you don’t get the stabilizing elements of a “normal” home life.
We have not always been in a position to give things away at Volante Design. We’ve been a start up scrappily making it work. But let me tell you it’s not always been enough to make it work comfortably. All small businesses who function without investors sometimes have what I call a squeeze. It’s not unusual. Even famous people like Amanda Palmer sometimes struggle to get their band paid. She said so, go read her book, it’s epic. (“The Art of Asking”)
This year we gave the last 14 Eagles to teens in foster care. I know the point of charitable giving is that you do it, and ideally you don’t go around talking about doing it. We gave something that might help another human stay warm and hopefully feel good. It’s not so much that we should be really proud of ourselves. So why am I telling you all this? Maybe I hoped you’d smiled at teen aged “euro chic” me or maybe you got a rest from your mother-in-law, while you read this on the can, best case scenario you felt that you are part of the story because you help us make it happen. I could talk a lot about slow fashion and how you’ve supported American manufacturing (for a very long time), but that’s for another day.
The charity we chose was NCYF, the Northeast Center for Youth and Families. Their motto is that everyone deserves a chance. We are profoundly grateful for the chance you’ve helped give us. If you feel that you have more than you need, maybe you could help Jamie get the manicure set that she’s wishing for, or Tom the Target gift card that I hope he will get to spend on Nerf guns and not on groceries.
Thank you to each and every one of you who helped give us a chance. Pass it on.
Happy Holidays. Merry Xmas. Happy Hanukkah. Stay bright at this darkest time of the year. Peace be with you.
This is the only photo of the jacket that I've got. David and I don't think we look great, but we do look happy so that has to count for something.