who are we?
from upper left to right
Edward Carberry Jr., Maegan Carberry, Kesila Childers, Matthew Hooper, Mike de la Rocha, Dianna Carberry, Gabrielle Weinand, and Derrick Ashong
We are a labor of love built by a family and community of friends and colleagues who wanted our founder, Maegan, to have a thriving life where they felt seen, heard, recovered, and supported. We also wanted to help Maegan achieve their vision of providing the solidarity we show them to as many sexual trauma victims as we can possibly reach.
So many people have called me crazy or intense or too much or overly emotional, but I must confess I'm rather proud if I'm the birdbrained one.
Maegan had an impactful career in U.S. politics and media for 15 years, but their attempts to manage rape-related trauma symptoms constantly undermined their quality of life. Eventually, the disconnect between the high demands of their work and their unhealed wounds became unmanageable. In the fall of 2014, Maegan knew they needed to address the problem before something terrible happened. They founded birdbrain to help themselves and anyone else who might benefit from their willingness to be transparent throughout the journey.
birdbrain is the outgrowth of a personal epiphany. Having recently designed a handmade dress with their mother, Dianna, for a special event, Maegan discovered that crafting made them feel at ease in a way they'd never experienced. They decided to follow that instinct. Maegan had been a longtime advocate for veterans groups who successfully educate the public about PTSD, and they'd also been visiting California prisons with organizations that provide art therapy to incarcerated individuals. They connected the dots between these experiences and wondered if it was possible to improve the lives of sexual trauma victims using an approach that blends trauma awareness advocacy and art therapy in the fashion sector. They had to help themselves first, but Maegan signed up for their introductory class at The Sewing Arts Center in Los Angeles. They hoped that if they could figure out how to make a pair of pajama pants, they just might have a chance at providing clothes and crafts to other sexual trauma victims someday.
Starting a mission-driven fashion brand was an unlikely proposition for someone who didn’t know how to turn on a sewing machine and had worked at Nordstrom for a couple of seasons. Determination prevailed. Maegan managed to complete that pair of pajama pants and gave them to Dianna for Christmas, then they spent the next two years learning to draw, embroider, and design custom fabric and patterns.
Clothes play an intimate role in recovering from rape. They're the first experience we have with physical touch after the incidents. The fabrics we wear can feel like a safe, comforting embrace. Or they can serve as body armor that broadcasts don't fuck with me vibes. When your agency has been violated, the little things you can control are profoundly powerful.
After gaining proficiency, Maegan decided to open birdbrain’s flagship Community Showroom in Palm Springs, CA. In 2017, we became part of the small desert town just outside Los Angeles. We stayed for five years until the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to shut down in-person operations. The Community Showroom was a place where people came for custom fittings and to shop, to participate in therapeutic group crafting activities like embroidery, coloring, painting, and shirt-making, and to experience representation, solidarity, and support. Having seen the positive impact on the local community, birdbrain took our unique experience on the road. We hosted our first Pop Up Community Showroom in Manhattan in 2019, beginning a tour of other major cities that will continue post-pandemic. In 2022, we opened our new headquarters in Los Angeles!
After years of learning and growing as a community, we proudly released our self-guided workbook, birdbrain: A Field Guide to the New Normal. Since our inception, Maegan dreamed of creating a resource that could serve the majority of sexual trauma victims who, like them, chose not to report the incidents to authorities or immediately seek therapy. They wanted to equip people struggling alone with useful information that can be processed privately at your own pace on your terms. The Field Guide is based on observations from Maegan’s more than 20 years of personal experience. The workbook also includes resources for members of a victim’s support network, such as family, friends, romantic partners, colleagues, and faith leaders. It can also be used by health professionals as an ancillary tool for patients who are actively in a medically-supervised recovery process.
birdbrain is proud to have worked with countless volunteers and supporters to create a community that visually, emotionally, and physically reflects the diverse experiences and needs of people impacted by sexual trauma. This issue touches people of all backgrounds, and we believe that by honoring each individual’s journey we can use our collective strength and empathy to create a sexually healthy world.
— the Carberry family + the birdbrain Board of Directors
p.s. If you're interested in how birdbrain got its name, watch Maegan's talk at the Coachella Valley Storytellers Love and Heartbreak event.
support self-help for sexual trauma
The majority of impacted people do not report to authorities or seek treatment. They often don't tell anyone. The people they do tell are usually not equipped to provide support. Help us reach people trying to solve problems and heal on their own.