When Sarah Butala, the artist and creator behind Strey Designs emailed about a month ago, I thought I was being pranked. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in her #RealWomen campaign, a photoshoot advertising her 6-way Rove bag. She, a woman I had never met in real life, wanted to take my picture for her store at Mall of America and in return, she would give me a bag. I’m sorry, what? What’s the catch? Is there a fee? Did she lose a bet? Did I somehow misrepresent myself into implying that I was a model? I accepted of course, because I’ve been wanting one of her pieces since I was first introduced to her brand at the Local Coterie fashion show that was part of last fall’s Minnesota Fashion Week. And yes, I want my photo taken constantly, and she’s just going to give me both of those things? It sounded too good to be true, but I went for it anyway.
I entered the studio a nervous wreck. I was about 65% sure that she had emailed the wrong Madelyne, that there was some other woman out there with my name who just so happened to be a professional purse model, and that this was some huge mixup. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be what she wanted, that the photoshoot wouldn’t work out because of me, and that I would be wasting her time.
As it turns out, there was no mixup. I was supposed to be there, as were the six other woman who I had the privilege of spending that morning with. We ate bagels, we sipped mimosas, we had ourselves a super fun photoshoot, and we all went home with a gorgeous hand-made Sashay bag. I feel like a million bucks every time someone compliments me on it. It connects me to this beautiful and exciting local fashion community, and for that I am truly grateful.
The photo from that shoot is now hanging in the Strey Designs shoot at Mall of America. I pass it everyday on my morning laps, and it reminds me to stop selling myself short. I am good enough. If someone wants to work with me, it’s not a mistake (necessarily, anyway). I have something to add, I have something to offer, and although I am far from perfect, I am worthy.
The Mall of America location will end its lease soon, and everything in the store is 25% off until April 30th! Head over there and get yourself a little something, I promise you’ll love it.