inspiration2021/10/27

Founders Interview: I Am Arla, A Transformational Platform And New Form Of Survivors Support Network

by Esme Buxton

I Am Arla provide a 360 degree safe space for women who have experienced any kind of trauma or abuse. At its heart, their community uses the power of women’s stories and voices to help empower your own. We caught up with the I AM ARLA founders Ciara CharterisDevika Wood and Karly Arber to hear more about their recently launched platform. 

Tell us about I Am Arla.

Ciara: I AM ARLA is a survivors support network and women’s wellness company. Designed by survivors for survivors, we want to help women rebuild and rediscover their lives after trauma and abuse. As sadly this is still a very common need and truth for women and marginalised communities. We use the power of women’s voices to help you empower your own, by offering a supported and safe place to share your story, start conversations and make meaningful connections. We are busy building a niche directory of experts, qualified practitioners and holistic health services that have been handpicked by us, and peer reviewed by our community. We also provide access to free workshops, numerous resources and Arla community events. We want to provide a 360 degree focus on support, and healing for the mind, body and soul that is accessible and trusted. Whatever your needs, whatever your experience, you are not alone, we meet you where you are on your healing journey. 

All that being said, the truly incredible thing about Arla is our beautiful and ever-growing community. They are paving the way and setting the tone for what it truly means to be a survivor in the modern day world. With Arla, it’s not just about surviving, it’s about thriving, and with that we can really begin to evoke change too. One story at a time.  

Ciara wears blazer, bralette and trousers by Aggi

How does it feel for you personally to be involved with and to be building such a vital community?

Overwhelming at times I’ll be honest. We’re holding space and support for people who have experienced a multitude of trauma, and that is a huge responsibility that I do not take lightly. But as you say it’s vital, and therefore that’s all that matters to me. I’m not sure where I would be or what I would have done had I not found this community. It has allowed me to find my voice in so many aspects of my life, and I’m truly passionate about bringing that to as many people as possible. 

Where was the idea born from and how did the connection between the three of you, as co-founders, come about? 

Devika: I am Arla grew out of a combined desire to want women to feel less alone, that as trauma survivors, we shouldn't feel shame, guilt or embarrassment for anything that we have gone through. 4 years ago I was at my lowest point in my life, I was caught in a truly horrific cycle of abuse. I stayed in that cycle because I didn’t know any different and it was incredibly isolating going through that journey, as it’s not something usually talked about. The beauty of I am Arla is that it does the complete opposite of all of that. When I would be at my lowest, and my abuser was in my head, I would repeat to myself ‘I am strong, I am beautiful, I am kind, I am loved’. I told myself that if I ever had a daughter, I would call her Arla, and that I never wanted her to have to say anything other than, ‘I am Arla’. Because, that would be enough. I shared this and my story on the instagram account I created in 2020, and from that, is how met my co-founders. The power of sharing my story brought us three together to create something extremely special, and now we have a platform that can bring together and hopefully do the same for so many others like us.   

Tell us what you love about Wolf & Badger, how did you discover us?

Wolf & Badger is such a brilliant concept and a company of which I have long been a fan. Wolf & Badger’s founder, George and I are part of the same entrepreneur community, and when we were looking for a launch venue for Arla, we were connected through our Founders links. From bringing together independent designers online, to walking through the shop floor, the experience is breathtaking. I was even luckier that the day of our launch event, the wonderful ladies in the shop helped me find an outfit and advised me to wear a power suit from Stain. It made me feel beautiful and was so unique! All in all, the ethos of Wolf and Badger we felt matched Arla’s, therefore we couldn't have asked for a better experience or launch partnership!

Devika wears white blazer and trousers by Stain

You have created an incredible space for women to share their stories and to seek support, how did you uncover the many resources and wider network that you offer?

Karly: We have been very lucky that lot of our wider network and resources have come from women reaching out to us wanting to get involved! We truly understand the depths of healing and the power of sharing stories and giving women a platform to use their voice, it is that which has connected us with so many people. Sharing women’s stories will always be at the heart of everything we do, but we quickly realised this needed to be counter balanced with informative support. I’m incredibly privileged to have the luxury of private healthcare which has given me access to a plethora of leading experts throughout my own personal journey, but since launching I am Arla it has been a real eye opener, to see that most women do not have access to the same experts that I do. The big thing being that most of the time, particularly when it comes to trauma, they do not know what help they need to heal or where to seek help from. Looking for that can be an extremely isolating, daunting and often horribly clinical experience. That’s where we come in.

Are there ways that our readers may be able to get involved, and where can they find you if they need support themselves?

Yes please get involved and come find us! We want to support and welcome readers and your community to connect with us via our contact page on our website, write to us via email or message us on our social media platforms. We want women to feel seen and heard so for us it’s about personally responding to messages and truly getting to know our growing community! Join our #OneStoryAtATime movement by sharing yours through our website or email.

Please feel free to contact us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or write to us at [email protected]. We look forward to connecting with you!

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