A New Way of Life: Shaniah’s Transformative Jean Journey
In this Jean Journey post, we’re honored to share the reflections of Shaniah Stewart, who we've come to know through our meaningful connection with A New Way of Life (ANWOL). A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing housing, legal services, leadership development and more for women like Shaniah, ANWOL plays a crucial role in rebuilding women’s lives after incarceration.
When we hosted Shaniah and two other mothers from ANWOL at our Democracy Studio, we were impressed by her grace and courage. Witnessing her confidence blossom throughout the day, we also recognized her natural talent in front of the camera. We invited her back for a dedicated photo shoot and opportunity to share more with us about her story. Continue reading to discover the lessons she's learned from her experiences, her hopes for the future, and her plans to make a positive impact.
Where do you call home?
I was born in Portland, OR but I’ve lived in California all of my life. My fondest memories were growing up in Carson, CA. Whenever I think about Carson or pass through, it feels like home.
Tell us some things about you
I’m what one would call a “girly girl”. I love fashion, makeup, hair, nails, all of that. However, growing up we didn’t have any extra money for me to have nice things. I learned how to budget at a young age and make use of what I had. I dream about the day I can go on a nice shopping spree for myself and also my children. I’m a mother of two boys and strive to live freely with them, provide them with the things I didn’t have and give them a good life.
At Democracy Clothing, we’re all about looking good and feeling good while doing good. What’s the “good” you’re doing in the world?
One thing I’ve always loved doing is making people laugh. There’s nothing like sharing a good laugh with someone; the kind where your belly hurts and you can’t catch your breath! Since becoming a resident at A New Way of Life, my future goals have changed. I now see myself working in re-entry, building relationships with other residents and using my life experience to help them along their journey. I’m currently in school to become a social worker because I want to bring compassion, empathy, and love to the world. I want to be for someone, what I’ve always wanted someone to be for me.
What pearls of wisdom do you have for other change-making women?
Believe in yourself. It sounds simple but it’s crucial. Plenty of times I made the wrong decisions in life because I didn’t believe I could be someone who is successful, so I wouldn’t try. Years went by and I realized I only held myself back. It’s easier to think that people, places, and things stop us from becoming who we want to be but change starts within. My goal is to work with women in different types of programs similar to A New Way of Life, giving them the type of support I was given here while reminding them, WE can do this!
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to finding clothes that look good and feel good?
After having my children, I became really insecure about my body. Finding clothes that are flattering to my shape, where I don’t have to worry about holding my stomach in, and pants that really accentuate the good parts of my shape is my biggest challenge.
How has finding Democracy Clothing empowered you?
Finding Democracy Clothing was a wonderful experience. They have such an amazing team behind them who made me feel special when I met them. They were genuinely excited to dress me and brightened my day with their warm personalities and their passion for making people feel good in their clothes. I felt confident. I felt seen. It was a day to remember!
What’s your favorite Democracy jean and what do you love about it?
My favorite Democracy jean has turned out to be the “Ab”solution petite jegging. I put them on today with a pair of high-top chucks and I felt so comfortable and stylish. I have them in the color dark indigo. They’re perfect!
Democracy's core values are to embrace who you are, enhance what you got, elevate your confidence, and evolve your personal style. How have you embraced who you are at this stage of your life?
I’ve learned to take time for self-care. When I allow myself to practice self-care, I feel comfortable and confident with who I am. At this stage in my life, I’m embracing who I am because I choose to believe I am special, I have a purpose, and I am wonderfully made.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my resilience. I look back on how far I’ve come, and the possibilities of where I can go and it puts a smile on my face.
Where do you hope your jean journey will take you next?
I want to keep this confidence and take it with me wherever I go. My experience with Democracy Jeans has allowed me to live out a dream I had as a young girl of modeling. I hope to put on my jeans and know I can take on the world.
We’re so inspired by Shaniah’s story, her resilience, and her wisdom beyond her years. And we can’t wait to see the ripples of impact she’ll have for other women who are beginning again in their own ways. If you’d like to get in touch with Shaniah, discover more about ANWOL’s transformative work, or contribute to their impactful mission, visit their website here.
Democracy’s Social Impact Commitment
At Democracy Clothing, we believe in the power of women to create positive change in the world. That’s why we spotlight and contribute to organizations and initiatives that help women overcome challenges and make a difference in their communities. Feeling good and looking good while doing good.