FREE REIGN didn't start because of any one thing, but it all came together after a multitude of perfect storms.
Hi - I'm Melanie, the owner + designer of FREE REIGN. I have been battling widespread chronic pain + unofficially diagnosed fibromyalgia from several injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident in 2014. It just so happened to have occurred 9 days following the birth of my son. The journey that followed both physically and emotionally had at times taken me to some dark, lonely + harrowing places.
In the early days, the pain I experienced was like my body was burning, sometimes dull nagging pains + other times there were stabbing like pains in addition to so many more symptoms. I found great discomfort from a lot of the clothes I wore as the fabrics would irritate the pain I felt despite the fact it was happening under my skin. I eventually went on a search for the softest fabrics I could find so that I could feel some comfort.
And as the pain went on, so did my experience with profuse sweating. When my body felt pain, which was nearly all the time, I'd start sweating. I remember nights when I'd wake up from the little sleep I managed to get, just absolutely drenched in sweat. Drenched to the point where I had to change my clothes, the sheets + my hair could've been mistaken for being freshly washed...except it wasn't fresh... I started to research + see if there were any fabrics out there that were great for things like sweating - I discovered bamboo + all of its properties. I found out that it naturally whisked away moisture, was antibacterial + antimicrobial which would help to keep me drier + wouldn't harbour any odour. Plus it was an eco-friendly fabric. That find was a huge win for me!
As this experience persisted, I started to suffer from pain induced depression + anxiety. I was subjected to numerous stigmas associated with "invisible illnesses" that had also led to feelings of inadequacy as a Mom + Wife. Often feeling undeserving of my Son + Husband. I also struggled with not returning to work. Prior to my accident I had an amazing career in real estate. I've always worked + enjoyed having a career. Being unable to return made me struggle mentally. During some of my lowest points, my Husband would leave me some of the simplest but encouraging notes in all different places of our house. Whenever I found them, they inspired me + nourished my soul; those notes helped to keep me going. I remember wishing that I could carry his words with me everywhere on all the things I used daily.
One night, I had a dream. While parts of it were foggy in my memory by the time I woke, what I did remember was that I founded a company that was similar to The Cancer Society - but it was for people who suffered from chronic pain. And its name? FREE REIGN. Yes. I dreamed that the name of the organization was FREE REIGN. And in my dream, we used a lot of the simple messages that my Husband had left me + I thought "if they could help me, they could help other people, right?" It was so real to me. So much so that when I woke, I thought I actually had to go to work.
Some time later, when going back to work was still not a practical option for my injuries, I began investigating a new line of work that I could get into that I would be equally as passionate about as I was with real estate. At this very same time, I heard about the statistic of how 1 in 5 people suffer from some form of chronic pain. I was astonished. Astonished that I could feel so alone on this journey when there were so many people out there like me. So I began trying to live out my dream + FREE REIGN came to fruition.
I started to design thoughtful articles of clothing. I designed everything with my experiences + struggles in mind. I began with choosing fabrics. I knew that I had to use something luxuriously soft + after all that I had been through, bamboo was just a no brainer. Then I decided to design some oversized yet flattering elevated basics for various body types that would be forgiving should you be losing or gaining weight like a lot of people with invisible illnesses experience. (I gained 52 lbs in a short period of time due to my medications + inability to exercise.) I also designed them to be versatile enough so that you could lounge around in the pieces or dress them up. I remember having some horrible flare up days where I laid in bed wearing some of my pieces + then had to go out so I threw a leather jacket on or fur vest + looked put together.
So, in November 2016, FREE REIGN was officially born.
I decided then that FREE REIGN was going to be a company that made you FEEL GOOD, LOOK GOOD + DO GOOD. Everything we do + design has to make you feel good on the inside + out, it has to make you look good aesthetically but our messages have to make you look good personally too + doing good comes from the messages you spread, the fact that our pieces are all eco-friendly, socially conscious + from always giving back. So not only are we doing good for the world + our environment, but for our community of people, too. If any of our ideas doesn't encompass all 3 of these objectives, we simply won't do it.
So that's my story. It's my hope that you not only love FREE REIGN's pieces, but what we stand for, too.
If you're struggling right now, please remember that this is just a chapter or two in your story. Don't let your hardship define you, let it inspire you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming along on this ride -- your support means the world to me!
Peace, Love + Kind Vibes,