Rose Harden Saving Lives Through Design with OneMama
OneMama.org wraps up another year of being the only clothing line and charity to be featured at New York Fashion Week. Unlike traditional brands whose fashion week experience is all about the clothes, the OneMama experience has a very different tone. The garments themselves are only part of the story.
It all started with Siobhan Neilland, OneMama.org founder, sending birthing kits to a rural village in Uganda. The project has branched from its humble beginnings, and grown into a multi-faceted organization with a model that funds the OneMama Clinic and birthing programs through unconventional means. The OneMama Collection–a line of clothing and accessories now produced in the Ugandan village–serves as the main revenue driver for the nonprofit. The OneMama Collection creates jobs and vocational training opportunities for rural villagers cut off from global commerce, and surviving on less than $1.25 a day. The collection also serves as a cross-cultural bridge that connects individuals from across the globe under a universal message: ensuring every baby is born into this world knowing they are loved and matter.
Rose Harden supported OneMama.org for years. Utilizing her background in dance and design, Rose devotes her talents to creating impactful art in communities throughout the Bay Area. She heard through a mutual friend that Siobhan was looking for a designer to bring the collection to life for 2015 New York Fashion Week… and it was a match made in heaven. Rose has been dedicating her artistry to The OneMama Collection ever since. “As an artist, it’s hard to find causes to contribute to. This is a way I can use my craft to contribute to something meaningful,” reflects Rose. Because 100% of proceeds from the collection go directly to OneMama programs, each of Rose’s designs represents hundreds of lives saved.
Rose also shares that the collection is a challenging process due to the constraints of reproducing the designs in such a rural area. Many materials readily available in the United States are impossible for the OneMama village to source, which means extra creativity is needed on Rose’s part. “I have to think about specifically how these garments will be produced in Uganda. I have to carefully consider the unique parameters. It’s a challenge—but I like challenges.” Despite the challenges, Rose and Siobhan brought their vision to life. When going over the new designs for 2016 New York Fashion Week a few months ago, Siobhan, and Rose knew this year’s collection would really be something special.
The new OneMama Collection that premiered at 2016 New York Fashion Week featured versatile designs for women and men on-the-go, incorporating materials, like handmade paper beads from the village, as well as “lots of care and intention.” The collection was designed to transition flawlessly from day to night, and made with all wrinkle-free fabrics that can be thrown into a suitcase for a weekend getaway. But most importantly, according to Rose, is the bigger picture of what these fashions represent: empowerment of consumers to have a direct impact on communities across the globe. “I hope people see this as a way to have a little more of an positive impact on the world. It’s a no-brainer to wear a nice, comfy dress that is flattering and supports a charity. They can take that [message] with them whenever they wear it.”