oh boy, let's take a trip down memory lane, back to where i realized ( of course later down the road ) i would one day open a store named meraki.
okkkkkk, So. I'm Courtney, I am the Owner of Meraki Collective + Company, The Photographer + Creative Director of Meraki Co Studio, previously known as, Noceur/ Courtney Rene Freeman Photography.
The Love for Free people, lets see that started when I lived in North Carolina + started modeling for Directions USA Model Management, That was the start of where my life changed. It's crazy to think that a brand of clothing could literally change your life, I know... You probably think I am nuts but, hear me out.. At the time I just made the move from Florida, where I was 'born + raised in southern ways" thats what my motto is, But seriously since birth to the age of 18- then some major horrible things happened, I lost my best friend due to a shooting at a local gas station after my birthday, where i lost my friend that had taught, protected, grew, loved, accepted, heard, + encouraged me to accept my weird self + to love my self. At the time those things are hard to see, but.. she had my back. So, back to the happy, after that I moved to North Carolina, where I finished my senior year which led to college, and more modeling + discovering a brand that i was wearing where it made me feel comfortable. Free people has grown over the years and developed fashion for everyone, back in the day it was more, Bohemian and who knows maybe your dress was made from grandma tina's old quilt kind of vibe. Anyways, i was DIGGING IT. Preppy took a back burning, and it turned more into Stevie Knicks on the radio instead of Britney. -- Side note, I was going through things, along with EVERYTHING you can think with modeling... well lets just say i was in deep with keeping up with the skinny, you could say. -- Down the line we moved to Indiana + the brand inspired me to pick back up my camera like i used to do when I was a kid. My friends will tell you since i was 12, after my mother blessed me with an amazing canon camera that was film... I woudl only want to have my friends come over and dress them up and make them their comp cards, the whole deal.. stats, the weight, different looks, we are talking 20 rolls a session, ( friday night ) these were big deals back in the day... it's funny jumping forward, most of them are very successful models today. I took a break from photography after Christina died, it was sort of our thing, Jumping back forward.. I started back into photography, learned ALL the skills you would ever need from an amazing woman named Ashley Tucker. She saw my hurt and grabbed me close, and we became a power team, hosting SO many workshops + we took off. Keep in mind, on the way, I started collecting my own little models .. I guess you could say Meraki Modeling Agency, + expressed my passion to them about free people, using only their clothing to dress these girls + teach them little secrets I knew about modeling, and helping their process, along with accepting + changing the way of the "bone" models, to self love models, and feeling beautiful and flowy and free while doing that.... in free people clothing. - I could see I was getting through to people while using their clothing. It's rare to find a brand that when you buy a dress it has enough stretch to fit all shapes and sizes, or Kimonos that turn into dresses that can me modified into tops and dresses again in all sizes.
So, after I could start feeling these women feeling beautiful, it made my heart feel beautiful + I got passionate about making women feel from images, stylizing all my sessions and making sure they were perfect, and building a closet for everyone to use by Free People. While doing this, along the way a contest happened by no other than... FREE PEOPLE + POLAROID. It was a chance for Influencers/Creative stylists + upcoming photographers to win an amazing trip sponsored by them, taking place in New York City to Foxfire in the deep, Cat Skills, New York. Well.. I decided, ok.. I'll start using their hashtag + see if they see my work.. well a week later I was home in Florida, and got an email that said, not only did i win once.. but a girl summited a photo by me and of me, and I was chosen two times. Only 30 women won this event, and I was TWO of them... They offered to fly me up a for 5 days, put me up in an amazing place in New York City, + then Spoiled me at free people, and then loaded us other 28 girls in a huge RV + we headed in Catskills for a day filled with everything creative, inspiring, motivational, and of course all the free people + unlimited polaroid film and sets pre-made for us. We had such an amazing time. Along the way I created bonds with some amazing women... which turned into pen pals + modeling ambassadors for me.. + we make trips to visit and shoot, ( before covid, i should say... ) You might know a few of them, Tezza Barton, Lauren Engle.. so many other babes that you would know, but these two girls got my heart that day. It's fun when you meet other women like you and accept you + also have been changed by FREE PEOPLE.
Later, I came back... I went through a rocky relationship before this trip, helped someone open a boutique on the way.. completely fillllllled them with all my brands i loved.. not thinking i would be in Indiana much longer, and then I met the love of my life + we fell in love + I decided to stay in Indiana + I couldn't work in interior design anymore, and found out that my passion is photography + a store called Meraki. Meraki means, "One who puts their heart and their soul into something that love, wholeheartedly, and eventually move on and leave it everywhere they go." Meraki, described my passion 100% / It came apparent that whenever I did something no matter if it had any benefit for me, I love to the fullest, I give to the extreme, I give my passion to those who need help, and love to help others achieve their goals, and accept that sometimes those people don't truly want you in their life, they just want to pick your brain.. and now.. truly... I am glad that I had that opportunity to learn from mistakes I made + to give them the light I had from Free People. As that being said, Meraki started in the same town that perviously had helped someone open a boutique, and I introduced them to free people, and it turned out that Free people is a private label and only let one zip code carry their line per- zip code. Lets, just say.. we can see each others stores from our locations, and my heart shattered knowing that I could not carry the one brand that changed my life. --
I opened obviously, in Warsaw, Indiana.. without carrying my brands that truly was passionate about... let me tell you.. that was one of the hardest things i've ever done... but the best part is that.. being a woman of faith.. God tells you to be patient, and I started praying, re-dedicated my life back to God, got my life back on track, forgave myself, stopped holding on to things that i had no control of? And guess what happened... Meraki Fort Wayne.. Our Second Location Happened. Re-applied to Free People thinking it wasn't possible + BAM... We were accepted + Now are carrying FREE PEOPLE (along with so many other brands I'm passionate about.)
We have worked so hard on Meraki Fort Wayne, literally so hard, in a two. month time frame. WE HAVE FLIPED this location completely. (thank god to my husband, my co-partner, her babe, my parents, my meraki babes, + fort wayne)
We are going to have a soft opening the first week of November on that First Friday which is November 5th, we will be open Monday - Saturday 10-6, which will lead up to our Grand opening taking place on Friday, November 12th, starting at 1:00. We would love for you to come a celebrate + see all our new inventory + items we have, along with CHRISTMAS. More info to come, sign up for our text message program to keep up with times + dates.
Lonnnnnng story, but.. Get to know me, let me get to know you. Lets be friends, ya know? Here are some images, and links to my amazing trip with free people!
Go Read on Free People my entire experience with FREE PEOPLE X POLAROID: https://blog.freepeople.com/2016/09/fp-polaroid-fp-creativity-summit/#more-170283
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