A Passion for People
From Issue: Volume XVI - Number 5
Bryon L. Richards
Merry Colvín, a onetime New York runway model, always knew she “wanted to change the world.”
Being a member of the fashion industry for years turned out to be a godsend as she was fortunate enough to travel all over the world, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures where she eventually found her true calling. She witnessed world poverty first hand but also in the same instant found how amazingly beautiful these same people were.
After living in Italy for a time, she moved back to the states and entered into the political arena by joining the city council of Portland, Ore. She found out quickly that this was not how she was going to change the world at least according to her standards.
She did her share of political things like standing in front of bulldozers and tying herself to trees to help at least change something. Upon moving to Long Beach, she was a regular on 2nd St. protesting the war when it began. She started to realize that telling people not to do something didn’t work as well as telling them what does work.
“Government itself doesn’t change the world because real change doesn’t start at the top, it starts at the bottom with the people,” said Colvín. “Understanding of individuals and their cultures is what will bring about change and I feel in this way, if I can help change these people’s lives then I am doing what I was meant to do.”
Merry’s Fashion with Passion brings her knowledge of fashion and experience in other cultures together in a fun and exciting way. Colvín states that the store is what she would like the world to be and when you walk in you know the chances of you getting in an argument with someone else are slim. If the mirrored ornament hanging outside the door doesn’t stop negative thoughts, like it is rumored to, Colvín will by her warm and caring personality.
Music from many different countries plays as you experience a new culture on every rack from clothing to jewelry to art. Much of the proceeds from the store go to the people that make the products, all handmade and made with heart. She shows excitement over beaded papyrus bowls made by HIV infected women in Kenya because she knows that the money she paid for them to sell in her store goes back to them.
Customers have been fascinated by necklaces made out of recycled Oprah magazine pages. The pages are refined so thin and then lacquered that they look and feel like beads.
She relates a story of trading a pair of Nike’s for a handcrafted ring from a family of the Kuchi Indian tribe.
“How can you demonize a people when you get to know them?”
Unlike most shops or large department stores, she doesn’t even know what could be coming in on any given day. She is always surprised as she opens a box, a plastic bag or an old beat-up suitcase containing everything from saris, dolls, jewelry or furniture.
She tells of her vendors that bring in mother of pearl Egyptian tables in old suitcases and handcrafted belts in a multi-used plastic bag. In this way it cuts out the middleman and saves on shipping materials. What she likes best about this is that she knows it came directly from the person that made it.
The shop’s slogan is “A world of wearable art for her, for him, for the soul” and Colvín guarantees it is made with passion by someone a world away like Morocco, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Nepal, Turkey and Africa.
Everything in the store has a personal touch and tells a story. A wedding dress from the Bedouin, a Middle Eastern nomadic tribe, adorned with coins tells the story of a bride’s dowry, meaning she is wearing all that she owns.
Also, vintage saris and belly dancing costumes that are made out of coins are said to have been evolved from dancers embroidering the patron-thrown coins on them and that the dancing was meant to strengthen muscles for childbirth.
Colvín learns new things all the time as some of her customers relay that a particular item like the lapis stones from some necklaces that she sells are only found in Afghanistan and Chile.
Colvín has a love for dancing and if you don’t believe it, ask to look at “Let’s Dance” tattooed on the top of her feet. She hosts belly dancing classes in the back of her store and on Sunday, Mar. 2, she is introducing “Tribal Sundays” which will include tribal dancing, music and henna artists.
“When people are dancing, no one is fighting,” said Colvín.
Colvín invites everyone to come in and experience a different culture but leave any preconceptions at the door. She means it too as a basket that reads, “Before entering, please dispose of any prejudice, bias or preconceived notions of any type. They will be available upon your departure,” is laid out at the front door to collect any negative thoughts, feelings or emotions as if they were solid objects.
Merry’s Fashion with Passion is located at 2747 Broadway Ave. and can be visited at www.merrys.biz.