Rosemary Card is the creator and founder of Q.NOOR, a clothing company whose aim is to “merge the formerly mutually exclusive worlds of faith and fashion to provide you with comfortable and beautiful temple dresses.” She is a former model, a returned missionary, an entrepreneur, and a faithful millennial Mormon.
RB: So you grew up between Salt Lake and New York City – can you tell me more about that?
RC: So I was born in Salt Lake City and lived in NY with my family between the ages of 8 and 12. We moved back to Salt Lake where I started High School at East. I then moved to New York City when I was 16 to pursue a career in modeling, which I did for two years before moving back to Utah.
RB: How were you “discovered” as a model?
RC: The movie High School Musical was filmed at my school, and I was an extra. The casting director talked to me there, but I shrugged it off because I thought it was stupid. I really hated high school though, so I sort of figured modeling could be a way out? It’s weird to say now because I’m all about education and I do not believe you can just run away from your problems, but that’s sort of what I did, or tried to do.
RB: I feel like I need to know if you met Zac Efron.
RC: (laughs) Well I was near him during most of my short time on set, but I didn’t actually meet him. Back then he wasn’t “Zac Efron,” he was just one of us kids. Plus, he was shorter than me, so…
RB: Model problems. So would you recommend modeling as a career choice?
RC: Absolutely not. I mean, it’s not that it’s impossible to have a healthy, safe career as a model, but it’s more likely that it won’t be either of those things.
I stopped modeling when I turned 18 because I lost the protection I had as a ‘child model.’ As a young model, if a photographer asked me to take my clothes off, I couldn’t be forced into it. Once I became a legal adult, I no longer had that protection. Plus, my heart really wasn’t in it. I never felt super comfortable being a sexy model as a teen who had never even kissed a guy.
RB: Okay, so catch me up on your post-modeling years…
RC: I graduated college with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, did a study abroad in Jerusalem, and served a mission in the faraway magical land of Mesa, Arizona! I worked for the LDS church in various capacities over the next few years before starting Q.NOOR.
RB: Can you tell me what the name Q.NOOR means?
RC: Yes! So Noor is the Arabic word for light, and I first heard it on my study abroad. It’s a common female name in the Middle East, and also the name of the former queen of Jordan who I’m sort of obsessed with.
I added the Q for Queen, because we are queens in the temple, and I think we should feel that sense while we’re there. I guess some Mormons might get flustered that I named it after a Muslim queen, but whatever. She is a wonderful support and advocate for women in and outside of the home. She is famous for serving those around her. She is basically “Charity Never Faileth” IRL.
RB: I love that. What made you want to start this project?
RC: I always wanted to start a business, I was just waiting for the right problem I could fix. I’d gone to the temple to try to receive some guidance as to what I should do with my career, and while I was waiting to do initiatories I was looking around and it just hit me – someone needs to make better temple dresses. What if it was me? I got dressed and went upstairs to the temple Matriarch’s office to ask if I was even allowed to do that? And she said to go for it.
I remember Googling, “how to start a clothing company.” I had no clue what I was doing. I started calling anyone I knew who had any connection to clothing production.
RB: Do you sew?
RC: Yes-ish. I mean, I can sew a pair of baggy pajama pants or alter a dress to better fit me, but I’m no professional seamstress. I do design our dresses but I don’t think of myself as a designer, simply out of respect for people I have worked with you have earned that title. My goal is to make comfortable, familiar styles – like your favorite wrap dress, but just white.
My thought is, there is enough to take in in the temple already, especially clothing wise. It seems so unnecessary to me that a woman should feel uncomfortable or less than awesome in her actual temple dress.
RB: I noticed your models are more diverse than a lot of Utah companies I see. Is that intentional?
RC: Diversity is super important to me, and you’re right, unfortunately it is hard in Utah where it’s pretty homogeneous. But we’ve had models from several different countries, we’ve had multiple ethnicities and mixed races, and I’m super proud of that.
I would also love to be able to shoot a broader range of body types, but at this point I have to shoot samples and my samples only come in size small. It’s a really frustrating logistical reality, but for now that’s where I’m at.
RB: I saw recently that you were able to use Q.NOOR to donate money to victims of Hurricane Harvey – can you tell me about that experience?
RC: Sure! So before Q.NOOR I remember thinking about how much good big Instagrammers could do. If an Instagrammer can sell thousands in retail with a single post, imagine if she did the same thing to raise money for a good cause. As Q.NOOR has grown, I’ve learned that these women are good and ready to do good, so organizing a simple way for them to donate to the Harvey Relief effort was a no brainer.
I told them I would donate 100% of the proceeds of all orders within a 24-hour period. I know not everyone is in the place to order an $85 temple dress, so I also gave them my Venmo account and invited them to send me even just a couple of dollars to donate. I received donations from $3-$150 dollars and nearly 100 orders. About half way through the day, Big Cartel reached out and said they would match the total Q.NOOR donation. We ended up raising $12,696 in 24 hours. It was one of the coolest things Q.NOOR has ever done.
RB: That’s incredible! Let’s switch gears and talk about the temple. It’s clear from your website you have a deep love for it. Can you tell me why the temple is important to you?
RC: I’ll be honest, there are things about the temple I don’t understand, and a few parts I struggle with. But, an anecdote I can share is, last General Conference when only one woman spoke in the morning session, I was very upset. I felt like, you know guys, you can give these great talks about us speaking up in ward council, you can say our voices matter, but it’s hard to really believe it when in the most important meeting of church, we aren’t heard.
I heard all the excuses, like there were big changes and logistic concerns, etc. but, with all the amazing women we could pull from our general boards or Apostles wives? I was not buying it. I was really upset. So I went to the temple to do initiatories, and while sitting there, with all women, performing priesthood responsibilities, it just felt right to me.
For me, regardless of my ability to understand what’s being said or whether I agree, I tend to feel good there. I feel like I can focus and better connect to Heavenly Father. I want more women to be there because I think seeing women serving and doing important work in the gospel is so important.
RB: Do you have a favorite temple?
RC: Actually, I have a really soft spot in my heart for the Tokyo temple. I lived in Tokyo for a little while modeling and would walk to the temple a lot just because I was struggling so much. It was an absolute sanctuary for me, even though I didn’t speak a lick of Japanese.
RB: I feel like we should talk about modesty. As a former model who now works in retail, I’m guessing you have to have thoughts on that topic.
RC: Oh yes. Truthfully, I don’t think there is anything sacred in covering shoulders or a certain amount of your thigh. Like, I believe garments are important but I don’t really think it’s because of what they do or don’t cover.
I would LOVE for it to get to a point where we talk about modesty without only talking about bodies — more like how you represent yourself, the words you say, how you treat people, they way you think of yourself in relation to others. That way it would be way more applicable to men, which of course it should be. There are some very immodest men in Provo wearing Polos that totally cover their shoulders.
In all things fashion and modesty, I say wear what you feel comfortable in, then forget about what you’re freaking wearing and do something that matters. That’s something I learned in fashion — people wore insane things, but it was stuff they liked and then they went out and conquered the world.
RB: I can’t say amen to that enough. Let’s talk a bit more about Mormonism. What do you like about being Mormon?
RC: I love that Mormonism started me off with strict rules. I think boundaries are so important when you’re young, simply to keep you safe. I avoided a lot of hard things because I wanted to be a “good Mormon girl.” Of course, as you grow, your understanding, motivations, and actions mature, but I think strict rules are great for the early stages.
I also love that being Mormon forces me once a week to respectfully listen to people that I may totally disagree with. It is a constant reminder that God loves all of His children. No matter how wrong I may think someone is, God still loves and values them as much as me.
And I love that things are changing. It is slow, but it is changing.
RB: What frustrates you about being Mormon?
RC: It frustrates me when the line between culture and doctrine get blurred. I think there’s a lot of gray area that we really aren’t sure if something is doctrinal or simply tradition.
More than anything, I wish we could really start to see all of God’s children as equals. Gay, single, divorced, black, Hispanic, female, whatever – we deepen the pool of knowledge we draw from when we listen to and value the stories and ideas of people who are different than us. Whether we like it or not, we have chosen to value white and married voices more than others and I think we are missing out because of it. That’s a tradition. It’s not doctrinal. Just look at who Christ hung out with.
RB: Let’s talk Singles Wards. If you had to vote yes or no on them, what would you vote and why?
RC: I vote we get rid of Singles Wards. Have student wards if you need to, keep having YSA an MSA activities, but let’s make church about coming unto Christ – not dating.
I think single members are the greatest wasted resource in the Church. Yes we have busy lives, but we can serve in ways parents can’t and we have experiences to share that someone who got married young may not have had. I know people say YSA wards give single people an opportunity to serve in callings they normally may not be able to, but to that I say why can’t they? Why can’t I be an active RS Presidency member in a married ward? It would be rad if we could learn from single members and see them as worthwhile even though they don’t have rings on their fingers.
The reality is, single adults are dropping like flies. We need to change things if we want to change the results. If we keep shoving single people together in the far corner and telling them “you can come out when you’re ready to get married like a good Mormon,” we’re going to keep losing them.
RB: I couldn’t agree more. No more dating committees, please. What keeps you faithful in a time where it feels like so many our age are moving away from the church?
RC: This is a good question with a lot of answers. The last six months have been hard for me. Initially I thought my testimony was dying, but really it was just maturing. Richard Rohr teaches that often the journey of faith starts in order and moves to disorder and then into a greater order. Even though the past few months have been hard, I’ve thought of Christ and tried to be like Him more than ever before.
One thing that helped me was, I thought about all the good that has come into my life because of the Church. There really is a ton. And when I think about what the world has done for me…it just doesn’t measure up. I don’t usually like using the Church vs. the World idea because I hate the us vs. them mentality, BUT I think it works in this case.
I get that the church isn’t really a comfy place if you think differently than the standard Mormon, but it makes me so sad when people leave because of that. Every single time we lose a member who thinks differently, our pool of knowledge and understanding gets shallower. As that pool gets shallower it gets more and more uncomfortable for others who think differently. We need to stay. It is the only way things can get better!