VIDEO

Susie Crippen & Trickle Up in Guatemala I: The Introductions

In the fall of 2012, Trickle Up had the pleasure of welcoming fashion designer Susie Crippen to Guatemala to see our program first-hand. This three part series is of Susie’s journey to the Central American country to learn more about what it means to live in ultrapoverty and how Trickle Up betters the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable every day. In Susie’s own words: “Starting a business changes you. It opens a world of accomplishment, curiosity and confidence like nothing else. I know this first hand from having done so at J Brand. The most rewarding part of my trip was to see that familiar glow on the more than 40 woman who had participated in the Trickle Up program and were continuing to grow their businesses and work their way out of poverty.”
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Susie Crippen: I’m Susie Crippen, and I was the co-founder and director of J Brand. We sold that company 2 and a half years ago and I’m here in New York showing my solo collection, and it’s the culmination of 2 and a half years of thought and work and experimentation. I was a waitress for ten years, until I was 34, and then I was a wardrobe stylist for 6 years, and when I was 40 I started J Brand.

I had to teach myself how to be a business person, and that took something of me. I had to scrape off the cobwebs of who I believed I was, nothing was ever gonna happen for me, that I was gonna live in an apartment for the rest of my life in a dirty bathrobe with my dogs and ugly slippers and I absolutely believed that about myself.

When this opportunity came along for me, something shifted; something changed. What I discovered about myself is that I was really really good at something, and that gave me a certain sense of purpose. When you do something that you really really love and you feel driven to do it and you feel like it has a purpose, I can’t ever imagine not working. I love work.

It’s interesting to me to be involved with charities like Trickle Up that teach people something. It’s the giving people who don’t have the opportunity, opportunity. When I first met Penny from Trickle Up she told me all about the organization and it was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for and I said to her ‘Penny, I wanna be able to go to these places. I wanna see it, understand it.’ I wanted the experience of being able to go and visit people. I wanted to understand how it works, because that’s that human connection that’s really important to me.

We’re going with Trickle Up to visit some of the villages they work with. And it’s in a very remote part of Guatemala. We’re gonna go see some of the people who have received micro-grants from Trickle Up, and find out what they’ve done with them.
I’ve never been to Guatemala, I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s gonna be an extraordinary experience but I literally have no idea what to expect. I have no idea where we’re going.

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