With Denver Fashion Weekend (DFW) summer fashion show just a few short weeks away, it seems that all eyes are on the designers, vendors and the DaVinci Machine Exhibition — and with good reason. It will be a DFW show unlike any before, in part due to our first ever Children’s Fashion Show.

But there’s also a new addition to our event. This year, the DFW shows will benefit Blu Haven — a nonprofit that supports victims of emotional trauma and offers a safe haven for those to share their stories and bring light to their purpose and survival.

303 Magazine sat down with Jill Smith and Jessica Martinez — the co-founders of Blu Haven — to discuss their experience with emotional trauma. “The truth is, most everyone can relate to experiencing some kind of trauma whether through physical or emotional, and it leaves us wounded, longing to heal,” said Smith. The ladies talk about emotional trauma, their organization and their excitement about working with DFW.

Photo Courtesy of Blu Haven

303 Magazine: How was Blu Haven established?

Blu Haven: Both of us had experienced emotional trauma within our families. Jessica’s sister had committed suicide in August of 2014, which led to her three nieces needing homes, love and lots of counseling. Jill’s sister had fought breast cancer and won, and over the years had serious consistent medical issues. In addition to that, we both suffered growing up with an absent parent leaving us no choice but to become an adult at an early age. We both decided it was time to take what we had experienced and turn it into a positive. Guidance played a big role as to what we would like to share with the world, and therefore we were inspired to create Blu Haven based off of our own life experiences.

303: What’s the most challenging part of working with people who have experienced emotional trauma?

BH: The most challenging part is not allowing ourselves to get to attached to the individuals we come across. When you have experienced similar things, as people are dealing with, it’s easy to take on their pain.

303: What’s been the most rewarding and/or surprising part?

BH: The most rewarding part I think is having a voice. It’s something we both have had issues with. Being vocal about our most personal times doesn’t come easy. Knowing that we are being heard, and overcoming the fear as well as knowing others are relate to us is an incredible feeling and we want other to share their stories of survival.  

303: What are some things you wish people would know about emotional trauma.

BH: Everyday we walk amongst people who are dealing with emotional trauma. It is a very real thing that sometimes we don’t take serious. Whether that be someone dealing with addiction, suicide, PTSD, medical issues and emotional or physical abuse. These are real life emotions that can weigh negative on someone’s mind, heart and soul. We can all make a difference by lending an ear to listen, or an inspiration to someone who is hurting. It’s time to spread the word and start coming together with our communities to help each other in times of need.

303: Tell us a little about your partnership with 303 Magazine and Blu Haven?

BH: 303 Magazine has paved the way for promoters in Colorado. Continuing to be a great asset as a media house, event producer, a unique company and ultimately the original fashion guru of Denver. We are thrilled to work alongside the 303 Magazine staff partnering as the non-profit for the 2017 summer fashions events.

303: What are you most looking forward to at DFW?

BH: We are always excited to see the beautiful designers display their creative clothing on the runway as well as seeing the DaVinci exhibit, and most of all enjoying the one-of-a-kind Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum venue.

303: How can people help Blu Haven and other similar organizations?

BH: Blu Haven is accepting donations which go to funding families in need, helping with therapy and aids current issues. We eventually want to offer an assisted platform of different programs through natural or medical practitioners. Making a donation towards small organizations, and spreading the word can help your local organizations in your own back yard and across Colorado. We also have produced our own events and were fortunate to have a solid  number of attendees, and we wish to produce more in the future to raise awareness.  

To support Blu Haven, visit this website and meet them at DFW. Tickets to the event can be bought here.