ShareJoy: ‘At the end of the day, this is all about the love of a mother for their daughter’
Former Vogue Digital Director Anne-Marie Tomchak has utilised her love of sustainable fashion and mental health advocacy and cumulated it into the ShareJoy project - developed in loving memory of a daughter, a friend, a sister lost, in the hope of making both us and social media more purpose-driven.
It isn’t easy finding light in moments of sadness. Just as it isn’t easy honouring the memory of those we have loved and lost during the pandemic. However, editor and journalist Anne-Marie Tomchak’s newest project does all this in spades; it pays tribute to a young, vibrant Irish woman who loved fashion, while also emphasising mental health awareness on social media.
“I think that this was something I wanted to do anyway. But then when I got a call from my friend Maeve McMahon telling me about what happened to Marie Sullivan, and the loss of Marie’s daughter Arwen, it put into focus a real purpose around doing something on mental health,” Anne-Marie explained. Marie Sullivan devastatingly lost her 23-year-old daughter Arwen to suicide during the first lockdown.
The Sharejoy project was made in tribute to her and her life, as public figures from Roz Purcell to Laura Whitmore and Irish fashion designers offer clothing from their wardrobes for sale on Depop with all proceeds going to Pieta House. So far, they have raised over €13,000 in only a few weeks.
It’s a passion project for Anne-Marie who is using the many threads from her vast career helping to support the mental health sector – which has seen huge losses during Covid-19. “Last year, during the pandemic, I think there was a lot of issues and themes that have come up and arisen around child safety and mental health and how technology is affecting us. And then similarly, in fashion, the pandemic shone a light on an industry that has an awful lot of problems.
“And this felt like a way of doing something in a more meaningful way, leveraging our circular economy and pre-loved fashion in a way that could support that third sector – one that is going through a lot of challenges now because of the pandemic. When you think about some of the big fundraising activities, that charities like Pieta would have done, such as Darkness Into Light, for example, was not possible to do now, ShareJoy was an opportunity to try to do something purpose-driven, but also to acknowledge the story of Arwen.”
“Because at the end of the day, this is all about the love of a mother for their child. This is the love of a mother for their daughter. And that’s that was front and centre of this. Everything else comes second to that. And so, from that perspective, it was an extremely humbling project to work on, for someone like Marie Sullivan to have trusted me. And she entrusted me with her grief and her story. And for me to then take that and to put together this project, which in many respects, has been a way for the family to be able to channel their grief and be able to acknowledge Arwen’s life at a time when that was not really possible to do in the same way you normally would.”