by Pam Tinsley
Nathalie is a young business owner, entrepreneur, and mother of a toddler, expecting her second child. She was taught to sew by nuns in a Kenyan orphanage and now designs and makes beautiful clothes that combine African colors with French and American styles. During Nathalie’s early childhood, war raged in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and she and her siblings were forced to flee after their parents were murdered. The nuns recognized her gift and encouraged her to pursue her passion.
Faith and resilience led Nathalie to apply for refugee status in the US as a 14-year-old. She continued to sew; found community with both a local Refugee Choir and an Episcopal congregation; completed a business development program; started her own business at age 21; and then saved enough money to locate and bring her younger sister and brother to the US.
Yet, despite the trauma and hardship that she has experienced in her young life, Nathalie strives to encourage and support others in the name of Christ. She recognized that, although fellow refugees could speak English fluently, their inability to read and write limited their job prospects. So she began to hold reading and writing classes. And because of her own difficulties moving out of the foster care system at age 18, she began advocating for refugees – and others. When her shop was vandalized and a GoFundMe account was established on her behalf, she pledged to give any excess money to neighboring business owners whose shops were also vandalized.
Stitch by stitch, Nathalie sows and sews God’s love as she transforms the colorful fabric into clothing. Each choice of fabric and each stitch reflect the merciful and saving love that Nathalie has received from God and that she shares with others – through her encouragement of others, her Christlike actions, and her vibrant and unique fashion creations.