FaithWalk Clothing by William Renae
In today's world and in times past collaboration and partnering has been an instrumental strategy. Partnering helps us to grow, learn, change and exchange ideas. Even the Bible endorses partnering based on the scripture that says, "Where two or three are gathered, I am there."
I want to introduce to you a mother/son partnership, which currently launched a new clothing line. The clothing line is called FaithWalk. The new line is created to encourage others to save themselves and to take control of their own destiny.
Renae Parker Benenson is a Mom, certified Chaplin (spiritual listener and encourager), writer and co-founder of FaithWalk. William Marshall Parker II is a Son, entrepreneur, writer and co-founder of FaithWalk. Together they compliment each other and have found support for their individual and collective growth and development.
They started FaithWalk because they get it. They have figured out that their life is to get better spiritually, emotionally, financially, intellectually and physically it will be because they have prayed to God and believe that the Creator will equip them for the journey and fill them with unfathomable power to be and to do more than they can ever imagine.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Summer of 2009
Not long ago I had an opportunity to meet William Renae. He is a young, single, African American brother who lives in the Chi (Chicago). Will is the creator of "FaithWalk Clothing and The Chatteaux." Trying to get on William Renae’s schedule is not very easy because he is always on the move: passing out flyers, promoting a piece of clothing, networking with other artists, creating ideas, and mentoring to those who would listen. His goal… to encourage others to grow in their faith, to dare to dream and to meet their heart’s longing.
The interview was conducted in a comfortable family room on a Saturday afternoon in late spring. He was leisurely dressed and wearing a pair of his favorite sunglasses. He was also wearing one of his signature T-shirts.
SC1: William Renae, we live in a world that tries its best, night and day, to make us someone else. How do you fight this battle to stay true to who you are?
WP1: I acknowledge that it is a battle to be yourself amongst others who are trying to make you someone else, instead of accepting you for who you are. Sometimes it frustrates me that people can be that way. Still I try to be as real with people as I can and to get along with them without losing myself or taking on their issues. I fake it until I can make it. Meaning I sometimes make sacrifices but not compromises in the midst of my journey. I become a chameleon. I adapt to my situation to survive on an everyday basis in order to reach my end goal. What I have to fake now is forgoing doing my craft full-time and to work a job. I have to fake it until I can make it to fulfill my passions long term.
SC2: And what is your passion?
WP2: Fashion, filmmaking and music. I also like volunteering – mentoring to kids.
SC3: What is it about fashion, filmmaking, music, and mentoring that interests you?
WP3: I was drawn to fashion, filmmaking and music because it is gives me a sense of self-expression. I want people to experience and feel my style. I like sharing myself with others. By being involved in the arts and by mentoring people, you get to learn about and to be entertained by another vision…my vision. With my vision I hope to be a driving force in connecting people to their passions, creating jobs and wealth for the community.
SC4: William Renae it seems to me your decision for self-expression is about creating what interests you. It is bringing to bear that message or that thing that gives you great satisfaction. What are you doing to fulfill your interests?
WP4: It is true…self expression is important; especially if you are not seeing things in the fashion industry or in the media that speaks to your interests. With that being said, I founded a clothing line with the help of my Mom called FaithWalk Clothing by William Renae. The clothing line was created to inspire others to save their life - to use their God given talent to better themselves, their community, their family and the universe. We also started a new Internet website called The Chatteaux, Check it out on thechatteaux.ning.com.
SC5: Very interesting. I see you are wearing a Tee from your clothing line. Could you say something about the design and the idea behind it?
WP5: Absolutely, FaithWalk Clothing specializes in vintage motivational collage T-shirts. We’re fairly new…about a year old.
The first T-shirt is called “USA.” It means “You Save Your Own A$$”….I conceived it after being laid-off work. Looking at the news and hearing about all the things going on in world - the economy, people losing their jobs and those who are suffering on the job (because they’re not living their passion) - led me to create the T-shirt. On the T-shirt is an image of the Statue of Liberty. She is a symbol that is known by all people. She was a gift to the US from France for helping them to gain their liberty. She represents freedom. An idea everyone around the world can understand and even strive for in some way. In the T-shirt, the Statute of Liberty is sitting instead of standing. She shares a powerful word of wisdom… U Save Your Own A$$ because being able to save your own ass utilizes your gifts and talents that God has blessed you with, whether you are a cook, singer, dancer, author, rapper, designer, politician or fireman. This gift is usually what makes you happy, connected to God and you don't mind going to work to do it daily. I have found that more often than not most people hate their jobs but they do it to pay the bills. I think there is more to life than just paying the bills. There is another goal too - to live our dreams. A job does not have to be our life mission but it is a resource. It goes back to being a chameleon - faking it until you can make it - gaining a cash flow that will allow you to eventually fire your boss and to become your own boss.
SC6: Hmmm…A powerful image and expression of self -determination. Cool. Are you also working on a second T-shirt?
WP6: Yeah….The second T-shirt is of the Phoenix. It is a spiritual bird that lived in the Arabian Desert for 500 or 600 years and then consumed itself by fire. It dies but it rises from the ashes to start another life. You can see it on line at FaithWalkClothing.blogspot.com. The images in the shirt are rosary beads, praying hands and it has an embroidered outline.
This T-shirt represents hope. It is a common theme you may have seen with the Obama campaign and his victory. We cannot lose hope no matter how bad our situation may get. I know you may have complaints. You may curse your situation. You may get angry or upset sometimes with yourself, your family, your friends, and even God. (Chuckling) Hey, I’m sure He gets a whole lot of people angry with Him or Her or however you interpret IT. But in the same token you got to have that 1% of hope in you. Knowing that your situation will turn around – maybe not today and not tomorrow, but your situation will turn around for the better.
SC7: We're living in an unsettling and fear-based climate. We need more positive and uplifting images that help to sustain us as we turned our situation around. Is there a third T-shirt on the horizon?
WP7: Yeah, we do have a third one in mind but I’m not ready to talk about it now. But I can say it is something dealing with foundation, family and teamwork.
SC8: You talked about another passion of yours….
WP8: Yeah for sure…volunteering for the Chicago Urban League. I participated in a program that offered scholarships for youth. I reviewed applications and interviewed youth to see if they were qualified to receive financial assistance from the Urban League. The process was very interesting. We looked at academics, family background and their volunteer experience. It’s so amazing and refreshing to see so many bright and talented young people out there. I am optimistic about the future for the young people. In order for them to continue on a path of success we have to provide a good foundation for them – starting with family, teachers and community. We need to nurture our next leaders and be good examples. We also need to listen to our young. Everybody has something to teach us…especially our youth.
SC9: Do you see yourself as a good example? What do you hope to accomplish with FaithWalk Clothing and The Chatteaux?
WP9: Yes, I do. I definitely hope to offer a remedy to help people with certain problems in the world; for instance, dealing with domestic violence. There are always going to be people who make – I'm not going to say bad choices - but unwise choices. At least if people hear about another opinion or learn another way to look at their situation, maybe they will make a better choice that is right for them. So I hope with The Chatteaux, people will see the show and hear the story of this young black male who went down some wrong paths, hung around with a few knuckleheads and is trying to make a difference. He did not make any excuses. He used his knowledge of technology, his filmmaking and writing gifts to help someone else. Due to his perseverance and hard work – just maybe he other support will find its way to him.
FaithWalk Clothing line has been an accomplishment…I have gotten great feedback from FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter. We have been reaching out to a number of different friends including some celebrity friends who come to town and those we communicate with over the Internet. They have believed in the shirt and company from the beginning. People are commenting on how they appreciate the positive spiritual messages they have received to help them get through the hard days here on Earth. I know from experience that life is bittersweet at times. It is up and down just like a rollercoaster. Everybody has some type of preferential faith or mission statement they choose to follow to inspire them. It may be Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Voodoo, metaphysics or thinking green. I believe we need to respect each other’s perspectives and to separate it from politics. People need to learn from one another and to appreciate what the other brings to the table. Democracy is about a freedom of choice. Everybody does not have to eat McDonalds or to wear FaithWalk Clothing – though (smiling) I would love for everyone to wear FaithWalk Clothing but there are choices.
In my view mutual respect and mutual understanding is about interpreting and choosing what will fit for you and what works best for you. Hopefully in the end whatever choice people make will be appropriate and in alignment with being a good citizen in society. My goal is to offer positive messages and images on my Clothing as a remedy- a way to encourage others during their ups and downs.
SC10: Right now, you are unemployed and have been for several months…the economy is jacked up, there is no visible job on the horizon and yet you stay focused on your dreams. What keeps you going?
WP10: All of what you have said is true. Life can be hard at times and you still have to find some enjoyment by living your dreams and focusing on them daily too. The things that keep me going are patience, fitness, prayer, my faith, my belief in self and others and sharing my sadness with trusted friends. Knowing that I am not alone gives me some consolation. Still there are those days when I am pained and humbled by my situation.
SC11: Is this a FaithWalk for you?
WP11: It is definitely a faith walk for me. It has been a journey not a destination. Those before me have done it. Brad Pitt wore a chicken costume. Sade was a bicycle messenger and Bernie Mac delivered bread. Tupac Shakur sold drugs and wrote poetry.
All of these people had to start from somewhere and they found help along the way. There is one thing I cannot stress enough. We cannot get to where we want to be by ourselves. Somewhere along the way there is someone - a guidance counselor, a neighbor, a teacher, a friend, a pastor, a sister, a brother - willing to help. I am grateful for those people in my life who have helped me. There is a song called Lean on Me. In adversity, during a challenge or to even win a game, we all need someone to lean on. We need someone to be there to offer a kind word and a helping hand to get us through. I have been going through some tough times since I’ve been laid off of work. I have been doing some external work and internal work to stay charged up. I have learned a lot and I am learning more. I am glad for Family - glad for my brother who has helped me. My brother and I have not always had the greatest relationship but he has been there for me. I’m sure I have done some things that he has not liked and there have been some things he has done to me that I have not liked. Still I am grateful that he has been there for me.
Michael Jordan did not get to where he is without help. He had to figure that out. He learned this lesson more when he got into the NBA and worked with the Bulls. Yes, he could win a game but he could not win a championship, or have a legacy without a great team behind him.
There are many people behind me who offer support and encouragement. I am grateful because I could not do what I do without them.
SC12: William, you offer us some good food for the soul. Thank you for allowing me to interview you and others to get to know you. It has been a pleasure.
WP12: Thank you.
A final word: William Renae is not on a work assignment that pays but he is and has been working. His assignment is both challenging and fulfilling. I appreciate his courage and curiosity to see where life takes him. It takes a great deal of ego strength, resilience and faith to go through the hard times of uncertainty. I value people like William Renae who call us out of the shadows, to step out and to expose our self and our dreams to the light. Spiritual awakening is scary.
His words are refreshing. They urge us to live… an authentic life, to carve out dreams by whatever healthy measures we can and to fake it until we can make it. He maintains that we cannot continue to blames others for our circumstance and put off looking for a remedy that works for us. William Renae reminds us, just like the stories of old, that we have the freedom to actualize our potential and a responsibility to shape the future and our next leaders. He maintains that during the process of becoming free, we have to be realistic about the past (yes I made some mistakes), expectant about the future (waiting is painful, I can do it, and I am not alone) and fully engaged in the present (I am down now but I can only go up from here). If I can help someone with health, strength and wisdom I know my life will not have been in vain.
William Renae, I pray you more patience, confidence and strength on your faith walk and as you dare to live your dream. I pray you a work assignment that will value your worth and skill. I pray you a community of friends who supports you and gets you. I pray that you will find others to challenge you to become even bigger and that you will not lose your humility. Congratulations on what you have accomplished already. For friends of FaithWalk Clothing, The Chatteaux and other seekers who understand what it means to wait for your season and to walk a path that is less travelled, please send William Renae some encouragement. Encouragers need encouragement too.
Peace for the journey!