The 116 Life x Eryn Erickson
Photo Credit: Amber Fouts
Written by: David Daniels
The 116 Life x Eryn Erickson
Eryn Erickson is the owner and creator of So Worth Loving, a lifestyle clothing company based in Atlanta. So Worth Loving’s message can be explained as simply as its name suggests — that everyone is worthy of love. Since the company’s launch in 2011, So Worth Loving has been spotlighted by CNN, MSNBC, Mashable, Jezebel Magazine and Southern Living, among other outlets. Erickson, 28, is also a recording artist under the name Eddy (her maiden name), although she has made less music since the rise of So Worth Loving. She had previously served as creative art director at Orange, a nonprofit organization that provides churches with children’s ministry curriculum.
Eryn Erickson: Changing lives with T-shirts
Melissa Ackley had felt unloved for most of her life.
As a child, she was abused physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally and mentally. Rape, abandonment and shame had driven her to substance abuse and self-harm.
After treatment, though, Ackley discovered So Worth Loving, and its message served as a reminder that her life truly was still worth it — that she was worth fighting for. Ackley felt moved to tell her story and reached out to the founder of the brand, Eryn Erickson, who may have been equally impacted by Ackley.
“When I read her story, I cried, and I told my husband, ‘This is why we exist,’” Erickson said.
Several years ago when Erickson spent her days working for Orange and nights recording music, the indie artist determined that she needed some kind of fan merch. Similar to her songs, she wanted the merch to send an uplifting message. Erickson settled on a single phrase and used stencils to spray paint it on the back of willing friends’ shirts, “So Worth Loving,” which her own struggles with feeling unworthy of love inspired.
“After experiencing a toxic relationship, for me, it wasn’t until I surrounded myself with relationships that were full of grace and full of love that I realized that should be my normal. Instead, I normalized an unhealthy one,” Erickson said. “So Worth Loving, what it means to me is realizing I’m worth fighting for, and I’m worth rewiring the behavioral-type struggles I had from that relationship.”
Erickson’s touch of spray paint grew popular in her circle of friends. After friends of her friends began to make requests, she invited fans through her music blog to mail their shirts to be spray painted for free.
People soon began to send Erickson more than their shirts, though. Her inbox became flooded with stories about how “So Worth Loving” reminded fans, or even let them know for the first time, that they were just that — worth loving.
“I was overwhelmed,” Erickson said. “I thought I had maybe five readers on my blog, and I thought I’d spray paint like four shirts. After receiving hundreds of stories and hundreds of T-shirts, I thought, there’s something bigger to this. It’s not just a phrase. It’s a lifestyle — a way of thinking. If you truly know you are worthy of love, the decisions that you make in life are different. I was moved by seeing other people make different choices after latching on to this message and this way of thinking.”
“It’s not just a phrase. It’s a lifestyle — a way of thinking. If you truly know you are worthy of love, the decisions that you make in life are different.”
Stories like Ackley’s led Erickson to quit her job in Nov. 2011 to focus on So Worth Loving full-time for the sake of impacting as many people as possible, even if it paid less. Even though Erickson is a fourth generation entrepreneur, she didn’t start So Worth Loving with the intention to launch a clothing company.
However, the sum of its life-changing stories have turned into a small-business success story. Erickson will open So Worth Loving’s first brick-and-mortar store in East Atlanta in January, after already having been covered by numerous national publications.
“I believe that our story stands out in the fashion industry the most because it is a very hard industry on body image,” Erickson said. “[So Worth Loving] is one of the first fashion brands that stands for self-worth, self-love. There’s nothing out there like that. There’s socially do-good brands. There’s no brand out there that has a stance for no matter your past mistakes, no matter your relationship status, no matter where you’ve come from, you’re worthy of love.”
Behind So Worth Loving’s newsworthy mission is Erickson’s faith in God.
“I believe that the Lord wants us to love people regardless of where they come from,” she said. “I think that’s what we’re called to do. That’s what So Worth Loving stands for.”
“Being in a relationship with Eryn for the past 11 years, I’ve seen her continue to hold strong to her faith and beliefs,” her husband, Jared Erickson, said. “She has never been shy to share with others. Even though SWL is not a faith-based company, Eryn’s personal faith lays the foundation of the message: Jesus is love and love others. The Bible is full of stories of Jesus sharing with people on all different walks of life. He saw everyone as worthy of something.”
Eryn uses apparel to start conversations about struggles of self-worth, and these conversations change lives.
“I like to believe that we plant seeds, and I like to watch them grow,” Erickson said. “For anybody to ever believe that there’s a God that loves them, they have to first start to accept that they are worthy of love. I believe that, and so I like to plant that seed, and I’ve had really awesome conversations with people on their faith and on their journey to knowing Jesus more. That’s been amazing. But also, I just love that I can love on people well, and then when they find out that I’m a believer, there were no strings attached to my relationship with them. I had no agenda. I was just loving them the way we’re called to.”
It’s no wonder why Scoutmob called So Worth Loving “the most lovable enterprise in Atlanta,” a So Worth Loving enterprise on which Melissa Ackley now serves, assisting with social media and giving her time to anyone who needs advice on how to seek help.