Rita and Veronique, our favorite mother-daughter duo, share the lessons they've learned through their incredible journey together.
Rita has always wanted to be like her mother, Veronique, and we can easily see why. Veronique was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but when she was in her early 20s, she moved to Switzerland to study fashion at a world-renowned school. While she was in school, she was discovered by a modeling agency and was then featured in European fashion campaigns. When Veronique moved back to the DRC, she opened Jolie Mode and built it into a thriving fashion brand.
When Rita was born, she quickly started following in her mom's footsteps. By the age of 4, she knew how to sew. When she was 6, she received a toy sewing machine as a gift from her mom that she still says is the best gift she's ever received.
Before Rita was 10 years old, however, the business her mom had worked so hard to build was destroyed by the Congo War. The family was forced to flee the country with less than a moment's notice. After spending 15 years in a refugee camp, Rita and Veronique moved to Boise, Idaho where they quickly began rebuilding their fashion dreams under a new name, Thara Fashions. They opened a successful retail store in the International Market in Boise, but their store and every unique piece they'd made burned in the 2015 fire.
Today, Rita and Veronique are again rebuilding their dreams together and transforming Thara Fashions into a successful online retail shop. They've poured years of work into learning industrial sewing at local factories, and they've constantly given back to the refugee community by helping provide training and English translation for seamstresses who are new to Boise.
S H E was incredibly lucky to welcome both Rita and Veronique to our Idaho team in late 2020, and together we're building a permanent women's employment program to serve women who are refugees in Boise. Our vision is to provide long-term, living-wage jobs for women with important benefits like paid time for English language classes, transportation, and child care. Rita and Veronique not only serve as our lead designers and seamstresses, they are helping build the programs that will create an environment where women can not only survive, they can thrive.
Left, Veronique in a Swiss fashion campaign in the 1980s. Right, Rita modeling a Thara Fashions bag in 2019. We interviewed them both for a mother's day blog. Read their amazing words below:
Rita, what inspires you most about your mom?
"My mom is so courageous. She has never been afraid to try anything. She's also very positive and resilient. She's always ready to try again and again and again, no matter what. She doesn't let anything stop her. She's also very generous. She loves to share and provide gifts for the people she loves.
And she's a good cook, haha."
Veronique, what inspires you about your daughter?
"Everything she's doing. Rita is the only family I have here in the United States, and she is my closest friend and confidant. I truly love watching her succeed and watching her have the courage to knock on every door in life. She is my motivation to stay happy here in the United States. She's everything to me, and we stick together through everything."
Rita, what is the best advice you've received from your mother?
"My mom always, always says to 'knock on the door'. She's told me that since I was a little girl. When she says that, she means to not ever be afraid to try. She says, if you don't knock on the door, life will not know you are there, and it will never answer."
Veronique, what is the best advice you've received from your mother?
"My mom always told me to prepare my children for their future. If my children are successful, then I'll be happy. My mom also showed me how to take care of my daughter and nurture our friendship so we could stick together through anything. And that is how Rita and I are today."
Veronique, as a courageous and inspiring woman, what is your hope for all women of the world?
"The advice I always give to everyone is another thing I learned from my mother. She said to 'treat all problems in life like a visitor.' No matter how difficult it may seem, you can find hope in the fact that it is only temporary. Difficulties will come and they will go. There will always be more steps to take, and if we treat every difficulty like it is a permanent presence in our lives, we won't survive. So I wish that every woman can see this and maintain hope in her life no matter what."
Is there anything else you'd like to say to mothers and aspiring mothers in our community?
"Give your children all the love you can because they will spread that to the world."