Behind the scenes: the making of the LOVE bracelet

It’s just before 7pm as the three of us watch the larger-than-life burnt orange African sun set on the edge of the Ngong Hills. Each of us covered head to toe in the deep red dirt of the Great Rift Valley, smiling from ear to ear and drinking down an ice cold Tusker beer. It’s been one of those days when you’ve worked so hard that your brain hurts and your body aches yet your face is shining because of the deep satisfaction from the day.

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Just over a decade ago I purchased a one-way ticket to Kenya. I had no idea when I got on that plane just how much the people of Kenya would change my life and what that change would create for many others. I knew very little about Africa then and about the world of international development. I was just a kid from Texas recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a heart on fire wanting to know more about my purpose in life, who I was, and where I fit in the world.

I am so grateful that I did jump on that plane, despite the well intentioned wisdom of so many who kept telling me to go to medical school first and then go help the people in Africa. I am thankful that I was too ignorant or stubborn or whatever it was to get on that plane. As a result I quickly realized it wasn’t about my helping the people of Africa, or about the people of Africa helping me, but about us learning how to love and appreciate one another. During that year of living in Kenya my understanding of the world broke wide open and for the first time I realized how intertwined our lives are to one another, even those we may never meet. My heart was shattered in such a beautiful way that I expanded and began to see how much I had to learn from my new friends and family in Kenya. For the first time I began to know the abundance of LOVE.

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And that brings us to the present moment, drinking a few Tusker beers, watching the sun set after a long day in the Kenyan wilderness overseeing the creation of our new product, the LOVE bracelet. Jeremiah, Jim and I had just spent the day visiting the 10 Maasai community groups totaling more than 400 women who had recently been employed as artisans through our collaboration with American Eagle Outfitters (AEO). It was one of those work days that you couldn’t possibly dream up even if you tried. Three friends meeting with more than 400 Maasai artisans, talking with them about life, about what it means to them to hand-stitch LOVE each day with their friends as they sit under acacia trees near their homes.

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The LOVE bracelet was designed by my friend, Chrissie Lam, during a collaborative trip to Kenya with our fashion brand, LIFE Line. We had been in partnership for a few years and wanted to partner on a product that would continue to empower the people of Kenya through job creation. One of the key elements I have learned over the past decade is that much harm has been done in Africa under the intentions of doing good. The reason for this is that much of the Western worlds efforts to “help” Africa actually perpetuates a culture of dependency where African communities literally wait on Western aid to “help” them rather than give them opportunities to live empowered lives. I have found that the best way to do this is by creating jobs where people are able to take control of their own lives by becoming business men and women providing for their families just like any of us here in the West want for our own families.

I couldn’t be more excited about our latest partnership with American Eagle Outfitters and the launch of the LOVE bracelet. Over the last 3 months during the production of the LOVE bracelet AEO has empowered LIFE Line to create more than 400 jobs for Maasai women in the Great Rift Valley. Not only have we created jobs, but the Maasai women have made these beautiful bracelets through their ancient tradition of beading under acacia trees near their homes. These products were not made in a factory. They were literally hand-stitched under acacia trees by women community groups gathered in love to stitch LOVE for you!

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Together, we have empowered these women to earn a living, care for their children, and provide for their households. It puts a smile on their faces as they wake up, walk with their community of women to live into purpose-filled work of a quality product. Their efforts also connect us here in America to a powerful story of LOVE that we then get to share via the hashtag, #loveisproject.

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As the three of us sat there watching the sun go down we all smiled knowing that such a product handcrafted in the African wilderness would soon be front in center in the 1,000 American Eagle Outfitters stores across America. What an incredible feeling and what an amazing collaboration between The Supply ChangeLIFE Line and American Eagle Outfitters to believe in something greater than ourselves and to live that belief out loud across the world through LOVE. I hope you enjoy the LOVE bracelet and ask that you please share the love via the hashtag #loveisproject. Thanks to everyone for doing your part to open this door, including our personal TRIBE and the original #loveisproject backers, for believing in us and for seeing the opportunities created when we leverage the influence of fashion to empower lives though job creation.

Big LOVE,

Zane

More about LIFE Line: lifelinefashion.org and @lifelinefashion on Instagram

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LIVE YOUR LOVE. Be a part of the Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

I worked in Concept Design for American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) just shy of a decade. It was an incredible job, allowing me to travel the world, searching for the coolest trends. In 2008, AEO supported my efforts during a 3 month sabbatical volunteering in Rwanda. That trip inspired me to follow my passion to merge design and international development. In June of 2012, I left AEO to start The Supply Change, an initiative that connects artisan groups with brands and creates products for collaborations. Everything has come full circle with AEO’s partnership of the Love bracelet I designed for Lifeline Fashion in Kenya. I couldn’t be happier.

Love is proportional to your will. It is an axiom.” The #loveisproject is a true testament to that and the exponential power of love. The dream is now a reality.

In April of 2013, I visited LIFE Line’s Maasai mums in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley to design new products. Finding myself inspired by the vibrant colors and patterns of the tribe, we developed an idea to design a simple and bold message bracelet in their traditional beading.

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Just over a year later, with the LOVE bracelet in hand on a flight to Russia, I struck up a conversation with two perfect strangers, girls from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. On a whim, I asked them about love. Upon landing at the Moscow airport, inspired by their answers, I snapped and uploaded a photo of them wearing the LOVE Bracelet to Instagram. The #loveisproject had begun. Coincidentally, one of the girls, Shahlo (pictured below), wore American Eagle denim.

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Four months and 31 countries later, 330 people representing 75 nationalities have worn the first LOVE bracelet. Using social media to link their love stories together, what started as a personal passion project began to blossom into a global movement of love.

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On my quest across the world searching for the meaning of love, tumultuous world events have unfolded simultaneously, juxtaposing  two passionate energies, love and hate. The profiles of people from the #loveisproject give voice to positivity rather than to the minority extremists dominating headlines.

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To see more of Chrissie’s inspirational images of her journey around the world check out her instagram page @thesupplychange

I’m so thankful for American Eagle Outfitters’ support and partnership in launching the #loveisproject this Valentine’s Day.  AEO is the largest employer of Maasai in Kenya through this collaboration, creating hundred of jobs and in turn supporting thousands in the community through economic empowerment.

I’m grateful for my friend, Zane Wilemon, Founder of LIFE Line, and the LIFE Line team who ran a stellar Indiegogo campaign raising more than $33,000 with bracelets purchased in 30 countries. Love is a shared purpose – achieving things together that you never thought were possible. This is just the beginning. Let’s celebrate Love every single day. Please join us in creating the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. May the stories of love inspire you as they have inspired us. Dream on.​

To learn more about The Supply Change click here.

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Valentine’s Day 2015 Playlist

This month, we’re feeling the love at American Eagle Outiffers. So much in fact that we’ve included a special playlist featuring some of our favorite Valentine’s Day themed songs. Head to stores from 2.7-2.14 to hear our latest playlist live and be sure to follow us on Spotify to access all of our seasonal playlists. What are your favorite V-day inspired songs? Tell us in the comments below.

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  1. B.o.B – Nothin’ On You (feat. Bruno Mars)
  2. Gym Class Heroes – Cupid’s Chokehold / Breakfast In America – Radio Mix
  3. Mat Kearney – Closer To Love
  4. Paramore – Still Into You
  5. The Shins – Simple Song
  6. Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
  7. John Legend – All of Me – Tiësto’s Birthday Treatment Remix – Radio Edit
  8. Death Cab for Cutie – Soul Meets Body
  9. Donna Lewis – I Love You Always Forever
  10. Beyoncé – XO
  11. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
  12. Calvin Harris – We Found Love
  13. Donna Lewis – I Love You Always Forever
  14. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors – Radio Edit
  15. Maroon 5 – Love Somebody
  16. Mat Kearney – Heartbeat
  17. The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

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8 Printable Valentine’s Day Cards For Every Personality

Valentine’s Day is February 14. Whether you’re single, dating or trying to win someone over, we’ve got printable Valentine’s Day cards for you to give that special someone. The best part is, we’ve sorted our cards by personality… so you’re able to find the perfect one! Plus, check out our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for great gift ideas to go with your cards.

Print if you’re: The Committed. You’re all about quality over quantity. You love everything about love and you’re in it for the long haul.

tt_vday1Print if you’re: Shopping Obsessed. Food, relationships, education… no matter what the topic, you can always relate it back to shopping.

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Print if you’re: The Realist. Let’s face it. Sometimes a direct response is just better. Let’s hope you wait to give this card until after V-day, though.

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Print if you’re: The Romantic. You’re a firm believer in love at first sight. Once you’re hooked, you’re really hooked. VM_VALENTINE2

 

Print if you’re: A Snuggler. Who doesn’t love a good snuggle? Cozy, cute and straight to the point!

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Print If You’re: The Bold. During truth or dare, you always pick dare. Challenges don’t scare you and the thrill keeps you going.
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Print if you’re: The Procrastinator. Sometimes life gets in the way and you forget about important things like homework, taking out the trash and days dedicated to your special someone. Don’t worry: we’ve got a card for that.

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Print if you’re: All About Being Single. We get it. Not everyone is a fan of V-day. But you know what? Being single isn’t so bad. After all, you get to eat the entire box of chocolates without having to share!

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What card are you going to give this Valentine’s Day? Tell us in the comments below.

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How to Wear AEO Sateen X with Styled Snapshots

A girl can ever have too many pairs of leggings. Are we right? Of course, we are. Well our new AEO Sateen X Extreme Legging proves us right once again. With its innovative stretch technology, these legging keep their shape and add an extra level of comfort. Sounds like a win, win situation to us.

Our girl Kendall from Styled Snapshots shows us how she styles our favorite new legging below.

Meet Kendall:
Hi everyone! My name is Kendall and I am the voice and creator behind my blog, Styled Snapshots. I am a twenty-something year old, living in the Big Apple with my fiance and sweet cavachon puppy named Hadley. I am a Child Life Specialist by day, and Life and Style Blogger by all other hours in a day! The pages of Styled Snapshots, quite literally, are filled with snapshots of fashion and other things that inspire me and hopefully will inspire all of you to live a stylish life!

Sateen X Extreme Legging with Styled Snapshots

What Inspired Kendall’s Look:
I am always on the search for versatile pieces; ones that can easily be dressed up or down and work for numerous occasions. When the weekend rolls around, I like to be comfortably dressed, yet in an outfit that is still put-together and represents my style. These black leggings can effortlessly take me from day to night, while creating a simple, yet feminine look. They were absolutely perfect for a bite to eat with friends and exploring the town!

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Get Kendall’s Look: Sateen X Extreme Legging | Jegging Sweater (Similar) Fringe Statement Necklace  (Similar) | Cutout Slingback Bootie (Similar) | Wide Brim Fedora (Similar)

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Show us how you style the Sateen X Extreme Legging with #AEOSTYLE on Twitter and Instagram for a chance to be featured on our Style Gallery.

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Every Girl Needs Her Best T

Let’s get real. Every girl needs her Best T. Whether you’re searching for the perfect every day tee or planning a casual-glam Galentine’s Day #OOTD, basics are always better.

Bloggers and real-life besties, Britt and Whit, show us how to style our favorite basic tee. With it’s soft, silky fabric and flattering fit, it’s a must-have in every girls’ wardrobe!

Meet Britt and Whit:
Britt+Whit is a San Francisco based fashion blog run by two best friends who love to play dress up! They chronicle their daily style including what they wear to the office and out on the weekends.Every girl needs her Best T with Britt + Whit

What Inspired Their Look:
“Being besties, we find that we always end up dressing alike!  The number of times we have shown up places wearing nearly identical outfits is astounding.  So when we set out to style our Aerie Best T Tees it was no surprise that we styled them in very similar ways, though still maintaining our own unique twist! The best things about sharing a blog with your best friend is that while we like similar looks and trends, we always incorporate and style them a bit to differently, so that means double the looks and outfits!”

Every girl needs her Best T with Britt + Whit

What Inspired Britt’s Look:
“I was inspired by a more sophisticated approach to the basic jeans and t-shirt look.  The v-neck cut of the tee is not only super flattering, but also gave me an excuse to add on a gorgeous statement necklace!  I love the contrast of the casual tee and ripped denim with the high heels and jeweled necklace.  Perfect look for a more casual night out with friends.”

Every girl needs her Best T with Britt + Whit

What Inspired Whit’s Look:
“I love a classic tee like this because it’s a great piece to dress down or up. While Britt went with a statement necklace, I added some fun statement earrings. With the cut of the v-neck I prefer a bit more delicate take on my necklace jewelry. I added a monogrammed W necklace Britt actually gave me! I added some black skinny jeans and classic black pumps to finish off my look.”

Show us how you style our Best Ts with #AerieREAL on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to be featured on our Style Gallery! xo

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