"Please don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right now - your college major, what you want to be when you grow up. Remember, we are on a journey and if you listen to your heart, it will take you where you need to go."
Talk about a girl who decided to go for it! Between travel plans around the world, being an activist for multiple charities and writing her own book, Kim Eichstead doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
We are SO impressed by your hard work and dedication, Kim. Because of you, the world is a better place!
Every Ella: Tell us a little about yourself.
Kim Eichstead: I'm from a 10 acre farm in Hell, MI. I was raised in a very small town where teachers taught my dad, older sister, cousins and aunts. It was a very supportive community. I moved to the big/small city of Grand Rapids and attended Grand Valley State University. I ended up living there for 7 years before moving back to the east side of Michigan. I studied Psychology and Sociology, because I always crave to understand why individuals and societies act the way they do. I LOVE reading, having coffee with friends so I can know their life, online shopping (sorry bank account) and traveling. This year I reached 10 countries in 10 years. There is no better way to learn about yourself than getting on a plane straight to the unknown. Especially with 39 strangers when you are 16 (thanks Mom and Dad).
Can you tell us about The Red Sand Project and your involvement?
The Red Sand Project is activist work to raise awareness about human trafficking in the modern world. It was started by Molly Gochman, an artist based in New York City. We are filling the sidewalk cracks with red sand to create a metaphor of stepping over the marginalized. To start a conversation. I became an ambassador and started planning events to educate my community because people aren’t aware of it. I met with teenage girls who were rescued off the streets in Grand Rapids. They were 13,14,15… they are locked up because their pimps are in the area. They are babies. I learned to pay attention to the issues that set my heart on fire and injustice is one of them. I want to educate my community so if they see something off, or have a potential run in, they know the signs to speak up and possibly save someone.
You also write a blog called "A Peace of Eden." Can you tell us what it is about and what inspired you to start it?
A Peace of Eden is in its infancy but it's my big vision. I love meeting new people and hearing their story. I am always SO inspired to hear how people have powered through the difficult and ended up creating a beautiful life out of it. I want it to be a place to empower women using story. I believe EVERY person has a story and telling it is so healing and powerful. I also believe a story has the chance to inspire someone else or let them know they are not alone. I want this to be a community of women saying, 'come share in a place where you will be supported and not alone.'
On top of that, you also work for Sseko Designs! What is Sseko and what do you do for them?
OH SSEKO! Sseko Designs is so precious to my heart and soon my time will end with them (so sad). As a human trafficking activist, I, in turn became interested in ethical fashion because the modern fashion world is knee deep in trafficking their labor, and are one of the worst industries creating pollution. Sseko Designs is a brand based in Portland, OR and started by Liz and Ben Bohannon. They are an ethical brand of sandals, shoes, bags and accessories created to help send East African women to university. They use the local products boosting the economy and employ these women, matching their salary after 9 months and sending them along to college. It is so wonderful. As a Sseko Fellow I get to tell people about Sseko and have trunk shows (SO MUCH FUN) and sell the products. Everyone at Sseko is fun and excited and passionate about changing the world. It's contagious.
Wait. You wrote a book too?! Tell us about "Define Decaf: Lessons From a Highly Caffeinated Young Adult."
Define Decaf was a blog I kept in college because let's be real, college IS HARD and there is no manual. I left college going WAIT - I am not getting a high paying job, how am I going to pay loans, eat, live? I sat on my mom’s couch for a year and combined by blog with what I learned by being at rock bottom. It’s a story about becoming. And it’s a fun trick to look yourself up on Amazon.
What are you personal goals and ambitions for the future?
This fall I will become certified as an infant massage therapist and postpartum doula. I want to combine my background in psychology and work in healthcare to create a business to assist and empower new mothers to be their best selves in this new and exciting season. I think all moms need a little boost. I mean, hospitals let them take tiny humans home without any kind of certification (just kidding) and teach them all the stuff when they are exhausted. That isn’t efficient. I want to help the mamas.
What inspires you daily to work for all of these companies and your own projects?
Injustice. I have chronic health issues and am constantly tired but knowing there is so much injustice out there keeps me moving forward, talking about it and educating the world.
You have traveled to 10 countries in the last 10 years! Do you have any upcoming travel plans?
All the weddings in the all of the world. Just call me 27 Dresses.
What has been your favorite country to visit so far and where would your #1 place to visit be?
Germany with hits beautiful vineyards, castles and of course it's the land of my people. Right now I am dying to go to Seattle. It's been #1 for 5 years.
If you could meet one female celebrity, who would it be and why?
My celebrities are writers so… Jen Hatmaker. She is hilarious and tells it like it is. She writes books that speak to my soul and has a bleeding heart just like I do. Squishy, tub of lard baby? Crying. Hates cats but tries to help it have its babies? Eye roll and don’t even say a word. She has adopted kids, listened bravely to God’s plan for her and loves her coffee. We would be best friends.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Stay in your own lane.
What one piece of advice would you give girls today?
Please don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right now - your college major, what you want to be when you grow up. Remember, we are on a journey and if you listen to your heart it will take you where you need to go.
Name one woman who inspires you.
My mom. She has seen the depths of Hell in abuse, divorce, her husband dying of cancer, supporting herself and her kids, and has Juvenile Diabetes and all the complications that come with it. Somehow she always has a smile and wise words for me and my sister no matter how bad her day was. She is one of the best humans I know.