Today we’d like to introduce you to Monika Veliz.
Hi Monika , we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Margie’s Hope was founded by Jacob Nash, in 2010, it began as a small resource platform, mainly focusing in the Akron area. Focusing on Affirming Peer-Groups for Trans Adults, and Trans children,
With our most recent Claim to fame, Margie’s Closet, an Upscale Affirming clothing resale shop in Lakewood, Ohio, we were able to extend resources into the cleveland area. The space allows Transgender and gender Expansive people to obtain high end gently used clothing at insane! Affordable prices, not to mention our Affirming undergarment program, which allows first time Binder and Brazier buyers to recieve thier first one free through us!
I joined the Margie’s Hope Board in January of 2021, instantly investing in the Margie’s Closet’s platform, understanding that Her potential to be a new outlet for Transgender and Non-Binary folks! Which was at the time, and still is a much need resource within our community. I Find myself sometimes devoting upwards of 45 hours a week, unpaid just to create a safe Affirming place for trans folks to find clothing, that suits them no matter the area of transition they come from. With volunteer and community support, we were able to go all the way to Best of Cleveland, as Editor’s Pick, 2021. I sometimes find myself spending up to an hour with a first time shopper, it’s a very intimate expierence, where supporting them and investing in thier nervousness, putting them at easy can often yield a rewarding bond between our staff and newly Out Shoppers who have never purchased affirming clothing before.
In March of 2021, I became Vice President of the Board, and in November of 2021 was voted unanimously to become President, where I now pull double duty to maintain the organization’s buisness Program Margie’s Closet, and for the overall organization, creating opportunities for the Trans and Non-Binary, and Gender Expansive community of Northeast Ohio. Including education and food programs as well as artist opportunities anywhere I can.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish I could say the road was without its challenges…that would make life so much easier, wouldn’t it? LoL.
No, the truth of the fact is, a lot of the board members have spent the year cutting thier teeth, on how all this works, running a working board non-profit, peppered with a full time buisness, we are not without our growing pains that’s for sure, but I have the most supportive Board a president could wish for, made up of a very unique and expansive demographic, with only one common goal.. to enrich the lives of Transgender people and youth.
They meet a roadblock head on without fear, and without hesitation. Thier fortitude gives me strength, moreover, the confidence that such a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life, truly do believe in what MUST be done, to support the Transgender Community, and are eager to Do Something about it!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I started my own Clothing line in 2007. Jai Girl Inc. The purpose was to focus mainly on the dimensions of the “Trans Body” which at the time no one was even discussing, my approach to mainstream fashion was a bit anarchist, I’ll admit, because it dawned on me that as a Trans woman Clothing was not being made for me, and I was sure I was not alone in this observation. Therefore I took the chance to start a design company with my work as Designer I understood that body image, garment fit was not just a deep concern of Transgender Women, but of All women, I then changed my moto to say “… A wearable brand for All Female Identifying persons…”
When joining Margie’s Hope I often wondered, in the early days, what is it I could bring to the organization, and then Margie’s Closet presented itself, and there was my answer! I was able to apply my expertise, in a way that could potentially end “blind shopping”, Hopefully I have helped Trans people, feel more affirmed in Clothing that finally fit them. My focus on the importance of trans folks finding clothing that makes them feel more themselves hasn’t changed, it is just being applied through the medium of Margie’s Closet.
Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
Ha!, I have no time for casual reading. Right now I get news were I can, and I have found the best way to relax is sleep when I can, and trying to just find some normalcy in my daily routine. But I am a huge Anne Rice fan when i do read, I am a deeply Spiritual person, so I’ve learned over the course of this year, that meditation, and enjoying silent moments really do recharge, re-centers, and refocuses me.
- Or Jean’s have a staple price of $5.00. No matter what you will always be able to afford a pair of pants!
- Or $2.00 Tees has been a founding price, we believe that even with 10 bucks on your pocket you CAN make yourself feel like a million bucks!
Monika Veliz (President), Danielle Schultz (Vice President), Mia Crystal Pepsi, Samantha Sakmar, Corey Woods, Olivia Gandola (Volunteers) Joshua Tucker(Freshman Boardmember)