Vulnerability, Braveness and Starting an Empowerment Company

Hi friends, Kimberly here. I am one half of Brookes Collective. A company named after both my sister (and partners) maiden name of Middlebrooks.

For years I was a missionary. I ran a counter-human trafficking NGO. I have lived all over the world and for a long time I loved it. The last few years though, I struggled.


I have seen every form of human trafficking in person and my heart was so heavy all the time. I can no longer watch sad movies. Every time I left our house and headed to the grocery store I was met with my ladies that walked the streets selling themselves because their gangster boyfriends needed their next fix. Although we did projects and empowered police officers, lawyers, entire church’s to be a part of the solution I kept thinking that this use of slavery is a systemic issue and fighting the issue won’t create long-term change!

 We need a system change!

We are a globalized economy and if we want to change the very way our systems function we need to reconsider how our systems function. Right now, our systems are propped up on the backs of slaves.

That should not happen?

Do you agree?

So enter in a year ago…my sister and I are on the phone. I am whining to her (as only a little sister can whine to one’s big sister) about how expensive fair trade was, but how I can no longer feel good about buying anything else. Also….why is fair trade usually just baggy dresses in mud colors?

She said back (Kate doesn’t whine) that she agreed that she wanted a fair trade closet and household but it was SO challenging to find any level of on-trend styles or even classic looks.


That was the beginning of the Brookes Collective story.


It was so scary. All I have ever known was the NGO-organization world! I’ve applied to UN grants and spoken at a million community groups, but never have I ever run a company! Kate and I both knew in theory what kind of company we wanted to be. We wanted to empower people at every level.

We had no idea the implications of that.

When Kate and I first posted on social media about Brookes Collective it was a collaborated effort because we were both SO nervous. What would people think? What happens if we fail? Is this thing we are trying to do even possible? What if everyone hated the collection we created and nothing sold?


I have never google “how to…..” so many time in my life as I have the last 11 months. The last year was a constant “putting ourselves out there” moment. Although we were cheered on by our people, there were plenty of voices saying what we wanted to do was impossible.


Between Kate and I we have 5 girls we are raising and something we have repeated to ourselves is “even if we fail, our girls will see their mama’s doing something brave”. I can’t tell you how many times a week I tell my girls: “bravery isn’t lack of fear, it’s doing something worthwhile anyway”.  This last year I have said that to myself just as much if not more.


We are still a small start-up and Kate and I are learning every single day through things that work and don’t work. However, this is absolutely true, it has been worth doing.

We are so thankful for each of you who have been a part of the journey and we look forward to changing the way we do fashion together!


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