Renita Manley-Garrett is the Executive Director of The Arts of Humanity and Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete (FAHF), an awards show that honors humanitarianism in the fashion and arts industries in Chicago, IL.
Empire Life: Why is the issue of human welfare so important to you and why should others take note?
Renita Manley-Garrett: I first learned about the human condition watching my father battle Vietnam Syndrome. When I learned more about his condition, I felt helpless, knowing that there was nothing I could do to help him. However, I learned that listening to him, showing understanding, and empathizing with his feelings was really all he needed. His condition forced me to learn about other human conditions, local issues, and global issues. But my experience with my father definitely made me realize that the way we deal with human welfare is crucial; it’s crucial because we have an obligation as human beings to care for one another.
Besides that, I really feel we are all connected; we are all one.
EL: What led you to create something like FAHF?
RMG: When I was an English teacher, the best part about my job was being with my students and getting to know them. I always connected our class lessons with life lessons, because it was a great way for me to have a positive, lasting effect on them. When I got laid off, I was relieved because on one hand, I knew teaching in that type of a setting was not meant for me. However, I missed getting to know people (my students), hearing their stories, and being a positive and effective entity on their journey.
With more time on my hands, I was able to focus on my then part-time job as an Image Consultant, full-time. I wanted to do something to stand out as an Image Consultant, but I couldn’t get rid of my desire to be fully connected with people as they grow in life. At the same time, I was meeting a lot of great people in Chicago’s fashion industry that were using their talents to advance the lives of others. Yet, these people were often overlooked as the creative industries tend to focus on self-development, creative development, and networking/partying. These areas of focus aren’t necessarily bad, but the ones who gave onto others via their talents went under the radar, at least their humanitarian acts did.
While talking with my PR consultant in 2010, I was blessed with a vision of creating a fashion show that also honored entities within the fashion industry for their humanitarian achievements. I called the show “Fashion Fetish Fete.” It was an innovative undertaking, but a huge success. The following year, we opened the show to include the fashion and arts industries and we placed an increased focus on humanity. With this came a name change: Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete.
EL: What advice would you like to offer to women on their journey to build their empires?
RMG: As rewarding as it is, it will get tough, but you can’t build a strong empire without your weaknesses being tested. You come out stronger. Moreover, as women, we juggle so much, and we automatically think that building an empire or brand means that you have to triple your grind. Especially when it seems like everyone else is on 24/7 grind mode. Don’t believe the hype: sleep/rest is healthy. Laziness is not.
My advice is to take your time, and enjoy the journey. Set goals for yourself, but make moves according to your energy (or for religious people, the Holy Spirit). When your moves are naturally in tune with the Universe (verses stringently following a massive to do list) I guarantee, you will feel and be more accomplished at the end of each day. Everything you accomplish in your day (hitting the gym, returning e-mails, meeting new people, doing the laundry, having a great brainstorming session, closing a deal) deserves a self-celebration. Take care of yourself, and your empire.
One extra piece of advice: Familiarize yourself with the teaching of Jim Collins.
EL: What’s next for you and your business?
RMG: I’m still a Chicago Correspondent for LookToThestars.org, and I plan on remaining with them as a contributing writer. I’ve also recently been appointed as an Illinois Director for Justice Together, which is an organization that is strategically aiming to end police brutality in America.
The Arts of Humanity and my team are in the process of working on getting Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete to become a nationally televised awards show. To make that happen, we are producing our largest show to date, which will be held and live-streamed at the Parkway Ballroom on December 12, 2015.
We are also fine tuning our Social and Emotional curriculum so they can be ready for download and used by teachers across America and globally. Additionally, we are connecting with Fortune 500 businesses and other organizations for volunteer programs that embody our organization’s values which are creativity, social and emotional learning, and humanity.
Besides all that, I will continue to take advantage of this wonderful thing called “ life-balance” by taking care of myself, continuing to spend time with my husband, three daughters, friends and family, all while strengthening and expanding my empire.
We’d like to congratulate Renita on all of her amazing accomplishments and wish her nothing but the best on her journey to the top! Learn more about The Arts of Humanity and Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete at their website and Instagram.