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Positive Thinking

Entrepreneur Rainbow Weldon’s clothing line reminds wearers to feel good.

You probably tell the people you love how strong, beautiful, smart or creative they are, but do you tell yourself?

Rainbow Weldon, owner of Affirm-a-Wear, believes in the power of positive “I am” statements and wants people to tell themselves “I am creative” or “I am smart” more often. That’s why she designs, produces and sells positive-affirmation clothing, shoes and accessories.

The idea came to Weldon, who is originally from Georgia and moved to Kalamazoo in 2012, when she became inspired to write “I am” affirmations on the insoles of her shoes with a Sharpie marker as a positive-thinking reminder to herself. Almost instantly, she says, she wanted to share the idea with other people. p>

“Because what you say to yourself matters,” the 35-year-old says. “That’s the tagline for Affirm-a-Wear now, and it’s an idea I was raised with. I see so many youth say to themselves, ‘I’m so dumb.’ It’s kind of natural in our world to be self-effacing or bring ourselves down. I think it’s important to build the practice of having positive self-talk.”

Weldon’s mom, Louise Weldon, who influenced Rainbow’s dedication to affirmations and serves as her primary moral support as the business grows, remembers the genesis of Affirm-a-Wear well because Rainbow got the ball rolling on the new venture very quickly.

“She called me early one morning and told me she created a new product,” Louise says. “This was an overnight thing. When I looked it up, she had already worked it out with Café Press, which was her beginning printer, and got the website up and running. She certainly lets no grass grow under her feet.”

Belief in the power of affirmations is something Louise shares with Rainbow — Louise is a New Thought minister and a hypnotherapist and explains that Rainbow was raised in a home that practiced affirmations and believed in the power of the mind. Louise says the “I am” statements were influenced in part by a sermon given by televangelist and author Joel Olsteen, who often preaches about the power of affirmations.

Affirm-a-Wear incorporates a graphic Rainbow designed that includes statements like “I am strong” and “I am happy.” The design has been printed on shirts, insoles of shoes, tote bags and stickers so wearers are given reminders to strive for positive thinking, particularly when it comes to themselves. That’s what Louise likes about the idea.

“It’s not like magic, where if you wear it all over you’re going to have everything work,” Louise says. “But it certainly does help get the mind going in the right direction.”

Not long after Rainbow ordered her first small batch of Affirm-a-Wear products from Café Press and started selling items to friends and family, she received a lot of positive feedback and decided to take the project one step further, by creating a Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign to raise enough money to commission a bulk order of merchandise.

At the beginning of 2014, Weldon launched her campaign, asking for help to raise $2,000 for Affirm-a-Wear. Within a few months, her Kickstarter goal was met, she received her order and she was able to set up a booth at Kalamazoo Pride this past summer. Now, aside from her online store, she’s looking forward to placing Affirm-a-Wear in yoga studios and spiritual centers, and she’s scouting more special events at which to sell her products.

Weldon says crowdsourcing is a great option for very small start-up companies like hers. “What I think is great about the Kickstarter crowdsourcing is that instead of saying, ‘Buy this. I want to sell you something,’ you’re saying, ‘Buy this. I want your support,’ People feel like they’re more a part of the process, so they get more involved and excited. I wouldn’t have had the couple thousand sitting around to start out, but now I have a small stock that starts me out, and I can slowly grow from there.”

Weldon also works as a leader of a youth ministry at Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago (she commutes from her home in Kalamazoo), is a spiritual counselor and owns and operates Soul Gurgle, a children’s theater based in Kalamazoo. Because she is involved in several types of work at once, having control over the growth of Affirm-a-Wear and being able to let it grow organically is important to her. She says juggling her endeavors can sometimes seem like a balancing act, but she knows Affirm-a-Wear is meant to keep growing — there’s just something about the product that people like.

Customer and friend Dara Allen, who lives in Tulsa, Okla., says she’s one of the people who love Affirm-a-Wear. She owns Affirm-a-Wear T-shirts, sandals, baby hoodies and stickers and says the products fit her fashion style and personal outlook.

“I love Affirm-A-Wear because of the message it sends to others and the reminder it serves to myself,” she says. “I am all of those things written on the clothing line, and so is everyone else. It’s just hard for us to remember that in our everyday busy lives. Every time I put on my Affirm-a-Wear shirt or sandals, it’s an awesome, uplifting reminder.”

Tiffany Fitzgerald

As Encore’s staff writer, Tiffany writes — a lot. She is responsible for our Upfront, Savor, Enterprise and Good Works features every month, as well as other stories in the arts. If that wasn’t enough, she is also the editor of FYI, our new family magazine that debuted last month. When we aren’t working her to death, she hangs out with her husband and two sons and dreams of having the time to complete Pinterest-worthy projects.

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