Artist, designer and local business owner Timber Heard has shot for the stars and hit her mark, but she’s asking for community support to take her next big step.
Heard designs handbags and jewelry and creates custom orders for customers across his business Jewelry and handbags Talitha Kumi. The site has not been updated with items due to preparations for Paris Fashion Week.
The artist draws inspiration from Nigerian culture, particularly Igbo, and their bespoke designs for her own work, but her biggest influence is the Bible. Specifically, Mark 5:41, where Jesus raises a little girl named Talitha Kumi from the dead saying to her, “Arise.” The story inspired Heard so much that she named her business Talitha Kumi and sets that story and the lessons of the Bible as the foundation for everything she does.
Heard recently completed her first year in “The Arts Incubator,” a Yoknapatawpha Arts Council fellowship, and applied for the Paris Fashion Week program on a whim. The program was open to talented new independent designers from around the world, to show the industry which brands PFW considered to be the “Those to Watch”.
The PFW Designer Panel reviews hundreds of entries from around the world and carefully selects designers to showcase with Flying Solo during Paris Fashion Week.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Heard said. “I do things by hand.”
To his surprise, Heard became one of 70 designers/brands selected from thousands of applicants.
“I was beyond amazed,” she said. “I thought it was a scam at first. I did some research, spoke to head office, spoke to the founder of Flying Solo and checked everything out.
As a one-woman operation, she said she found the opportunity exciting but daunting.
“I’m not Gucci, I’m not Louis Vuitton and this is Paris,” Heard said. “It’s where Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Hermès live, so I think it was really cool. I didn’t think it was going to lead anywhere.
With this opportunity, Heard’s designs could be featured in the Flying Solo boutique in New York, 12 of his pieces showcased at Paris Fashion Week, and expand his business into bigger and better things.
However, this incredible opportunity comes at a cost. The accelerator program requires supplies, photography, marketing materials, the trip just to get to Paris for the showcase, and accommodation. Heard started a GoFundMe page to collect donations. The first $1,300 needed was donated by a close family member, but community support is needed so she can raise between $8,000 and $10,000.
Heard said she’s never been out of the country, which causes some anxiety, but she clings more to her faith to get her through.
“I really ask for prayers about all of this,” Heard said. “There are still things that worry me a bit, but I know God said ‘Don’t worry.’ I really want to help people with this brand and it’s about spreading the gospel of Christ and helping people up.
Heard said she wanted to pursue growth, in her business and in her personal life, by God. There have been stumbles along the way, but she is making progress towards improvement.
“I’ve said things online that I’m not proud of and done things that I’m not particularly proud of because none of them were done with the right heart posture,” she said. “But I also understand that true grace is undeserved.”
Through her own experience with bipolar disorder and homelessness, she said she wanted so much more, but was going to allow Jesus to lead her. The service community is the key to its brand. Heard regularly donates 10% of its profits to the Community Church of Oxford and advocates for mental health and homelessness.
“There’s so much systemic disorder in Mississippi, in the South, and around the world, but Joe Stinchcomb said, ‘If Mississippi changes, the world changes,'” Heard said. “If I could be a small part of this, it would be drugs. But even if I’m not, I can help trigger that in someone else.
To learn more about Timber Heard’s fashion business, Talitha Kumi Jewels, visit www.talithakumijewels.com.
To help Heard secure donations for the Paris Fashion Week Accelerator Program, visit her GoFundMe here: Talitha Kumi fundraiser.