Real Talk With Erin Drischler Of The Garment Project

Erin Drischler founded The Garment Project, a non-profit that aims to empower women recovering from eating disorders by providing them with new, size-less clothing, individualized for their healthy bodies and lifestyles. We got to know Erin and the story behind her incredible non-profit—read on for more.

Real Talk With Erin Drischler Of The Garment Project

 

What inspired you to start The Garment Project?

I wanted to start telling a different story. There were so many years where I felt stuck in a loop as the ‘sick girl’. I decided that I want to be a voice for those who feel that same hopelessness. For me, clothing and sizing was a huge part of my eating disorder recovery. Returning home from treatment to a closet full of clothes that didn’t fit my body or soul is a struggle that not many in recovery think of prior to it staring them in the face for the first time. Between my fiancé, Jordan, and myself, our careers, hobbies, and talents seemed to give us the expertise needed to try to make a difference.

We recognized that there needed to be a way for someone to maintain their focus on recovery and not their size, even when finding new clothes. We decided that partnering directly with treatment facilities would give us the information we needed about each candidate Garment works with in a private and healthy way. From there, we needed to give each individual a unique shopping experience. Garment created an online tool that allows us to make a new, personalized shopping page for each candidate containing only items in our inventory that we believe matches both their needs and lifestyle. With the help of hard-working and talented people, we believe Garment will change the recovery process and a lot of lives along the way.

Can you tell us a bit more about the power sizing in clothing can have over women and what they can do to overcome it?

Each time I went through treatment, I would learn new skills or bits of information that would improve some of my behaviors and way of thinking. I would usually leave with a feeling of confidence and that I had worked hard to make important changes in my lifestyle. Yet I would find myself in the same place: back at home, day one of no longer having the security of an inpatient treatment team, trying to get ready for class. I was alone in my room staring at a closet full of clothes that no longer fit my body or recovered lifestyle. It was a terrible feeling.

For a long time I used clothes to fuel my eating disorder. It isn’t uncommon to use clothing sizes as benchmarks. I kept and used my old clothes as a means of body checking, or seeing if weight had been gained or not. After several cycles through the treatment loop, I had been convinced to throw away my scale. My eating disorder didn’t need a scale anymore because I had my ‘sick clothes’. I remember one dress in particular that would reveal my current weight based on how it fit. I didn’t have the financial stability or even the courage to box everything up and start over.

Clothing and fashion are personal and powerful ways to express yourself. It is exciting and the easiest way to express your individuality. I was missing the thing I used to love about getting dressed each day. I wanted to be able to pick my outfit based on my mood or whatever side of my personality was stronger that morning, but I was stuck with a wardrobe that had so many negative associations attached to it that I couldn’t feel confident about anything that I had to choose from.

What’s next for The Garment Project?

We are focused on bettering our service and expanding our reach. This year, we are going to be working hard to spread our message and let people know that we’re a resource for people who have done amazing work for themselves and are learning how to lead a healthier life. Of course, Garment is always learning and growing too. It’s a priority for us to be able to expand our service to men and hopefully we’ll make significant progress on that this year as well.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

It took a few years of practice and slips, but I have a completely new relationship with food, my body, and myself. My eating disordered thoughts once consumed my life, paralyzing me from living a life I was proud of. I am three years into recovery and I still feel pride and excitement when I catch myself in control. I eat when I’m hungry and until I am full, and I always order exactly what I want. When I look at a photo of myself, I no longer examine every dimple or imperfection. I am able to see the happiness on my face because that’s what is most important to me now. I learned how to be more patient with people I care about, and forgive others when they might not have met my expectations. The food finally came second to the relationships, which was one of the most important steps in accepting my recovery.

Living this recovered life had not only led me to accept my body and soul, but truly love and embrace what I have to offer. I’m proud of my recovery and the messy, motivating experiences I went through. It is important to us that we be champions of recovery and show those that are struggling how beautiful recovered life can be.

 

Want to learn more about The Garment Project? Check out their website here.

 

 

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#RealWishes Recap: How We Gave Back

This December has been all about #RealWishes. We’ve been giving back in our community and encouraging our girls to join in and help make a difference, no matter how big or small.

We kicked off our project by asking our girls to share their #RealWishes with us, and Iskra surprised our winners with a PJ party. Congrats again to the Sigma Kappa Theta Theta chapter at Albright College! These girls give back to their community all year with monthly visits to their local senior living home, and we were so excited to celebrate them.

Check out more of our #RealWishes below!

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1. #RealWishes & REAL dogs!

We collected pet toy and supply donations for Animal Friends, then hosted a puppy break with adoptable and therapy dogs.

2. Sweet break at the University of Pittsburgh 

We surprised Pitt students with a much-needed coffee and sweets break during finals week.

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3. Mini Christmas trees at the Ronald McDonald House

Families stay at the Ronald McDonald House while their kids receive treatment at Children’s Hospital, and many will still be there over the holidays. We brought dinner and mini Christmas trees for them to decorate so they could feel a little piece of home while they’re away during tough times.

4. Local women’s shelters

We visited two Pittsburgh women’s shelters this month. We brought cozy accessories and sweet treats to the first group of women, and treated the next group to care packages and manicures.

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It’s been a big month! Thank you for joining in, and keep sharing your #RealWishes with us.

 

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Real Talk With Heather Durcho

Ready for some serious inspiration? Get REAL with Heather Durcho, AEO’s Front Desk Receptionist. She fearlessly volunteered to share her story with us as we honor breast cancer awareness this month, and we can’t thank her enough! Read on to learn more about the shining face we see every day in our Pittsburgh office.

Real Talk With Heather Durcho

Hi, Heather! Thanks for chatting with us. Can you give us a brief intro to what you do here at AEO? 
I am the front desk Receptionist. I do a little bit of everything. Answer phones, check in guests, and help out with some HR responsibilities. I think I may have one of the best positions in the office because I get to chat with so many different people during the day. There is never a dull moment up here at the front desk. I have been working here since March of this year and absolutely LOVE it!

Do you have a favorite Aerie item? 
My favorite go-to Aerie items are definitely the cardigans and dusters. They are so comfy! I love that they are so versatile. I can wear one when I’m just lounging around the house. I can throw one on with a pair of jeans and head out to run some errands. Or I can even dress one up by adding a statement necklace and a cute pair of boots. Confession, I wore my favorite duster to work the other day and then slept in it that night! They are that cozy!

Real Talk With Heather Durcho

If girls want to see more of your style…where should they find you on Instagram?
My Instagram handle is @heddadurka.

What makes you #AerieREAL?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer (Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) in March of this year. The first question I had for my doctor was, “Am I going to lose my hair?” Within just a couple weeks after my first chemotherapy treatment, it was falling out in clumps. I remember one day I went to readjust my ponytail, and when I took out my hair tie, I was literally holding my entire ponytail in my hand. I decided enough was enough and shaved my head that same day. I was just coming to a point in my life where I was really starting to love and appreciate my body, flaws and all. Then cancer swooped in changed everything. My hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes fell out. I became bloated and puffy from some of the chemotherapy drugs they gave me. I didn’t look like myself at all. Literally the only thing that did not change was who I was inside, and that is what I decided to hold on to. I was still the same person I have always been, it was just the outside that was different. It took me a little while but once I finally came to that realization, I felt so much better about everything that was going on. Learning that I am just as beautiful on the outside as I am on the inside is what makes me #AerieREAL.

Amazing. Thank you SO much for sharing. Now onto a lighter note. What book did you least read?
I am addicted to reading! My kindle goes with me everywhere. The last book I read was “Who Do You Love” by Jennifer Weiner. If you haven’t read it yet then go do it right now!

Real Talk With Heather Durcho

Shop Heather’s Look: Duster Cardigan | Tank (similar here) | Girls Rule Notebook (in store!)

Do you have any favorite fall recipes
One of my favorite things to do in the fall is cook on our charcoal grill. I don’t have any specific recipes, per se. I just love being outside in the crisp fall air, watching the leaves change and enjoying a delicious home cooked meal. However, this would not be a proper interview without me expressing my deep and undying love for a large, steaming bowl of mac and cheese!

Describe your personal style in 3 words: 
Classic, comfortable, girly.

Real Talk With Heather Durcho

What does #AerieREAL mean to you?
I’m sure being #AerieREAL means something different to everyone. To me, being #AerieREAL is taking what I have learned about myself over the past few months and helping others feel the exact same way. We are all beautiful!

Thank you Heather!

Tune in to our Snapchat today (handle: aerie) as Heather gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her day at Aerie!

Learn more about our partnership with Bright Pink®, a non-profit dedicated to prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer.

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#AerieSupports Bright Pink

We’re so excited to celebrate our our sixth year partnering with Bright Pink®, a non-profit dedicated to prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer. This year, we’re partnering with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a two-story breast cancer ribbon covered with more than 1500 Aerie bras!

Yesterday, more than 50 Aerie volunteers helped to build the massive structure, designed by local Pittsburgh artist Steve Ford, at Stage AE next to Heinz Field. After our campaign, Aerie will launder and donate bras from the sculpture to local women’s shelters in Pittsburgh.

Along with raising funds for Bright Pink’s life-saving education and support programs, we hope this ribbon encourages women to understand their family’s health histories and their own potential risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

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“Our work with Bright Pink allows us to educate and empower our consumer about their health as well as share our commitment to #AerieREAL and body positivity!” – Jennifer Foyle, Global Brand President of Aerie #AerieSupports Bright Pink #AerieSupports Bright Pink

The ribbon sculpture was raised in front of Stage AE, where thousands of people will be able to view it from Heinz Field during Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh football games during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. It will make its debut at the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens primetime game on October 1. (Go Steelers!)

#AerieSupports Bright Pink

#AerieSupports Bright Pink

Visit your local Aerie store or Aerie.com to shop our limited-edition Bright Pink Bralette. 100% of proceeds will go to Bright Pink. Check back soon to learn more about Bright Pink and tips for being breast aware. Support your girls!

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Wiz Khalifa and AEO Team Up to Help Kids in Need

For those of you that don’t know, our headquarters is in Pittsburgh, PA, home of the Black and Yellow and one and only, Wiz Khalifa. Since we share the same hometown roots as Wiz, we were super excited to team up with him and be a part of giving back to the local community.

On September 15th, Wiz surprised students at his alma mater, Allderdice High School, along with Pittsburgh Sterrett 6-8 and Pittsburgh Obama to deliver the message that working hard will help you to achieve great things.

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“I’m really happy to give back to the kids in my city.  It’s really important to support Pittsburgh as much as they support me,” said Wiz Khalifa.

In addition to his visit, Wiz donated 1,700 book bags from American Eagle Outfitters to be divided amongst the 30 District schools that serve middle and secondary students.

“We are honored to be partnering with Wiz to make a positive impact in the lives of these students and to help them get the school supplies they need to be successful in the classroom,” said Chad Kessler, American Eagle Outfitters global brand president.

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In response to the donation and visit, Pittsburgh Allderdice Principal Melissa Friez stated, “We are proud to welcome Wiz back to Allderdice.  He is an accomplished artist who is known worldwide, but he has not forgotten his hometown of Pittsburgh.   His donation will be used to help students across the District understand the value of being prepared for school and his commitment to their success.”

 

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Movie We Love: The Fault in Our Stars

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Image Source: thefaultinourstarsmovie.com

Back in April, the bestselling book, The Fault in Our Stars was one of the 7 things we loved… and we were anxiously awaiting the premiere of the movie. The tearjerker about teen cancer sufferers Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters was released on June 6 and, suffice it to say, we were definitely not disappointed. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort were utterly adorable and inspirational on screen, and we have to admit, brought tears to our eyes more than once. Above all, we were inspired by the message of positivity and living every day to the fullest.

We also loved Gus and Hazel’s laidback style throughout the film. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite AEO pieces to help you recreate their looks.

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Shop Now: 1. Slouchy T-Shirt | 2. Slouchy Long Sleeve T-Shirt | 3. Faded Denim Jacket | 4. Super Skinny Jeans | 5. Boyfriend Cardigan | 6. Full Zip Hoodie | 7. Kate Dress | 8. Soft Pant | 9. Scrunched Ballet Flat |

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Shop Now: 1. Solid Oxford Button Down | 2. Contrast Placket Polo | 3. Signature Graphic T-Shirt | 4. Slim Jean | 5. Loose Jean | 6. Vintage Global Print Tank | 7. Graphic Hoodie T-Shirt | 8. Field Jacket | 9. New Balance 515 Sneaker |

Another reason we love this film is because it was shot in our very own hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, here are the must-stop locations where some of the scenes were filmed.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon: This is where they filmed the support group scenes and where Hazel and Gus first meet.

Oakmont: While we don’t know exactly where the crew filmed in Oakmont, this was the location of Hazel’s house. Take a drive towards the iconic Oakmont Country Club and you’re likely to see some familiar surroundings from the movie.

Allegheny General Hospital Suburban Campus: All of the hospital scenes were shot here.

Did you see The Fault in Our Stars? If so, tell us your favorite scene in the comments below.

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