Friends, I’m the kind of gal who doesn’t rearrange furniture in our home nor do I choose to paint a room unless I’m needing to sell the place. I like to have a clean kitchen counter, yes, but I don’t spend time organizing my pantry to be Pinterest-pretty. I know on which shelf to look for the noodles and which way to turn for the black beans. That’s good enough for me! I barely notice the rest. And that’s how we’ve gone about being a store with my leadership, but it just isn’t good enough. We’ve needed to spiff up Connected! But I’ve needed help in the transformation because it just isn’t inherent to who I am.
We hired a friend of a friend, k2forma, who are marketing and design professionals to bring us along. Kelly, President, has kindly worked with us and has challenged us to make some changes.
If you were alive in the 1990’s, you might remember Gary Chapman’s cheesy, practical book called The Five Love Languages. (He’s subsequently written derivatives of it for the masses.) The gist of these books is that we each respond differently to the general ways that love is shown to us. Some of us respond more to touch while others of us appreciate spending quality time with our partners for instance. I’m solidly in the “acts of service” category. Actions speak louder than words for me and those like me. I’m off the chart on this one so for my husband, family members, and friends to show me love/appreciation/support is to help me with that which I care most deeply about.
Lately I’ve really been feeling the love. (perhaps ‘Barry White’ that sentence just for fun:)
As a staff plus two husbands and Bethany College student-athletes for a day, we’ve painted both stores. This includes one ceiling; if you want to hear an animated story about this, ask my husband about it sometime. It’s best shared with a beer.
Now we are sprucing up our jewelry display pieces. I admit, I’ve always bought them from “normal” store supply companies. Read: produced with poor labor practices in China. It has pained me each and every time I’ve supported that market. So, for months we’ve had our eye on some wood displays that I could either pay some awesome etsy folks to make or we could try to do ourselves. I’m ALL FOR supporting local and USA artists and crafts persons, but don’t feel like I can spend the dollars necessary at this point, so this week we started to give it a go ourselves.
I was absolutely giddy! We were definitely sweating, but it wasn’t in a sweat shop! And I think they are coming along well! It’s so exciting! Even for me – the one who really doesn’t notice or care about things like aesthetic pleasantries. But you know why I care in this case? Because this isn’t about me. It’s not about our family. It’s not about social accepted-ness. If it were, I wouldn’t be doing these things because, again, it’s just not naturally a part of who I am.
All of these hair-brained ideas to spruce ourselves up are in an effort to make the Fair Trade artisans’ and farmers’ products look as beautiful as they actually are. We want people to glance at their necklaces and see how attractive they really are. We want customers to pick up their necklaces easily and hold them up to themselves to see how great they look. We need good display pieces on which that can happen.
We want to sell more necklaces and earrings and everything else so that we can reorder and help build producers’ businesses. We want to give them a strong reorder each season so they can be more stable and do more for themselves, their families and their communities. THAT’S why we come up with all of these summer Sunday afternoon projects in the 100 degree Kansas heat. That’s why we do everything we do.
We’ve got some more ideas that are far beyond my abilities and budget… and I continue feeling the love. I am forever grateful for everyone who helps us along.
May we all receive the help we need to live into our call to the absolute best of our abilities with God for all of God’s people. May it indeed be so.
My husband is sanding, Carri's husband is skillfully cutting and Bethany College's President is assisting. We had quite a capable crew! (I was the assistant to the assistant which is to say that I was the cheerleader;)