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Beverly Robinson - A Style All Her Own

By Leah Bashaw

Looking at Beverly Robinson now, the word that comes to mind is “energetic.” She carries herself with a confident energy – not because she has never faced challenges, but because she has faced many that could have easily taken her life.

Beverly’s childhood was tumultuous. She is the youngest of five children. Her mother struggled with mental health issues, and vicious cycles of trauma took place in their home. Beverly remembers being removed from the home on multiple occasions, often ending up living with relatives or in foster care. “I wanted to be with my mom,” Beverly says. Both inside and outside the home, Beverly experienced sexual abuse. She remembers not feeling safe as she tried to adjust to living in different homes with different people.

School became an outlet for Beverly. No one at school knew of her troubles at home. She worked hard as a student and to fit in among her peers. Beverly remembers, with particular fondness, her fourth and sixth grade teachers, as well as the school’s reading club, whose books provided an escape from her stressful home life. One of her favorite characters, Ramona Quimby, was created by a fellow Beverly: Beverly Cleary.

While Beverly continued to be an incredible student, she says, she became promiscuous as she got older. In high school, she entered a relationship that mirrored the domestic violence she grew up with. Beverly became pregnant in her junior year, which made her personal life even more unstable. The domestic violence just seemed normal to her.

Through her pregnancy, and even after the birth of her son, Beverly stayed in school, for which she credits her mother. Leaving school was “never an option,” Beverly says. She proudly graduated high school on time, wanting a different future for her and her son. After high school, she entered the workforce, often working in fast food, retail jobs or jobs with young children. Beverly had a second child, a daughter, at 19 years old.

At 23, Beverly moved from Toledo Ohio to Columbus Ohio for a fresh start and began working as an intervention aide for Columbus City Schools. She ran from the pain of her past but was unable to outrun domestic violence. She was 29 years old and in another violent and tumultuous relationship when she gave birth to her second daughter. When her baby girl was 3 months old, her partner nearly strangled her to death. Beverly describes this as a dark time when she lost nearly everything, even her love for fashion. She remained in the cycle of abuse with her partner and gave birth to her youngest son at 31. When he was 4 months old, Beverly started counseling in order to put the pieces of her broken life back together. In 2007, a friend from Beverly’s church was killed in a fight stemming from domestic violence. Beverly was supposed to be with her at the time and realizes she would have been caught in the crossfire. This tragic event fueled Beverly’s conviction that she needed to break the cycles of domestic violence that she and her children experienced.

After being terminated from a social services position working with youth, Beverly worked at Macy’s as an Estee Lauder beauty advisor. At first, she wanted to go back to a full-time position in social services so she could help people who were struggling. But she soon found ways to do that as a beauty advisor. As Beverly applied and blended her clients’ makeup, they would open up to her about their struggles and insecurities. Even as she sold makeup and skin care, Beverly knew she was helping these women feel more confident about themselves.

At the same time, Beverly’s daughter was being bullied at school, and Beverly noticed insecurities that she, too, had faced. With women and girls reaching out to her for help, she began mentoring women in the community and girls at her daughter’s school. In 2013, she founded the Good Girl Project, Inc.. Within five years, it became a multifaceted social enterprise that helps women find their personal style and curate their closet and helps young girls and women navigate trauma, set goals, and, ultimately, realize that, regardless of what they have faced in their lives, there is a good girl within. The Good Girl Project’s goal is to inspire women and girls to use their talents and skills to follow their dreams. As she styled women for special events, Beverly often witnessed their “aha” moments, when they recognized their beauty and gained confidence. Beverly’s own style focuses on dressing as an expression of her feelings. “I think people would describe me as energetic and full of life,” she says. “I want people to know that we are resilient.”

Beverly has also worked to pass on her resiliency to her children. As teenagers, three of her children lost their fathers in tragic events, and they had to get through those times as best they could, she says. She remembers the guidance counselor at her son’s school consistently reaching out and giving a gift card to the family over the holidays when his father passed away. Beverly’s church family and prayer group were also a source of support, praying for her and her family as they adjusted to life. Beverly’s organization now pays it forward by honoring women who exemplify resilience and community impact.

Despite the cycles of violence and trauma, Beverly says, “she never lost hope. Even as a young child, she always believed and hoped that she would be reunited with her mom when they were separated.” She encourages women who are experiencing domestic violence, as she once did, to find their own resiliency, knowing that it’s seldom as simple as just deciding to leave. “There is still hope and a way out,” she says. “Take every step to be safe.” She encourages these girls and women to create healthy support systems, set goals, and know that they can start over and have a better future. Beverly is a fierce example of the power of breaking free.

Beverly’s life exemplifies resilience. She has overcome experiences that could have destroyed her. She says that we all have a choice of who we become. It is important that we do not allow others’ opinions of us to hold us captive. More than anything else, she wants women to know that “we all have a ‘Good Girl’ snuggled deep down inside of us.”


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