Something very exciting happened last week. My friend Shannon went to Haiti with her daughter through their church
I have been slacking in my blogging and upkeep here at Cedar and Cypress, buy we have been buying and continuing to work with our partners in Haiti because we have a store to fill now! We are so excited to announce that I have opened up a store in Minnesota with my good friend Nicole.
This is a dream and a vision I have had since Cedar and Cypress Designs was born and I am so excited that less than two years after leaving Haiti, my dream has come true. My passion is supporting artisans; both in Haiti and right where I am; Gathered Goods Company does just that. We have over 20 local artisans, products from Haiti and clothing. We also have a craft bar and different DIY classes happening.
If you are in the area, come check us out, 5619 Manitou, Road, Excelsior, MN 55331. If not, we have a small online store (www.gatheredgoodscompany.com) and of course you can always purchase Cedar and Cypress Designs online!
It's not like this is news to any of you. We all know how important it is to collaborate and to have people on our side, some one to bounce an idea off of or someone to encourage and support you.
I have been very fortunate in moving to Minnesota to meet some great women whom I have been able to collaborate with. From the stores that sell Cedar and Cypress Designs, to the women who sit down for coffee and brainstorming or encouragement.
If you don't have a good group of people around you, this life will all be so much more difficult than it has to be. Last week I got to sit down with my new friend Lindsey over at Nourish Move Love, after she kicked by butt in Barre class we had a delicious lunch with great fellowship and conversation. It was refreshing to chat with some one who is so energetic and excited to be a female entrepreneur. Needless to say she lit a little fire in me.
If you're an entrepreneur, a mom boss or just plain old busy it can be hard to find the time to fit others in to your hectic schedule, but it is such a small gesture that often leaves a big impact in others. Thank you Lindsey, for taking the time to visit with some one new.
As the world moves on from Haiti once again, our artisans and partners are still very much involved. I can't stress enough that what Haiti needs most (maybe not "most", but you get what I'm trying to say) is JOBS.
People have lost their lives and their livelihoods - Hurricane Matthew whipped out crops and livestock, homes and families. Every time I talk about Haiti at a show or the store the response is always similar - Haiti just can't catch a break.
It breaks my heart to see people who have been knocked down by society, by their country and president, by the system and by continued natural disasters. Poverty and a broken system don't make life easy for Haitians. But there are some committed to making life better, to change the system and do their part to make the world around them a little better.
We can all do our part. You can play a role in changing the life of some one in Haiti by making a purchase from us. Our partners are committed to orphan prevention, to education, to the whole family. They offer literacy classes, help to rebuild homes, offer health insurance and so much more. So buy from us, buy from our partners, buy from others who are involved and selling products from Haiti and other countries around the world that are hurting and broken. The more you buy, the more people are employed; Haiti-now hiring.
I traveled home today, back to Minnesota, through North Carolina where the storm will surely be heading soon. As I stood in the security line checking all my social media feeds, the world around me seemed to be going on with out skipping a beat. Swirling around me as I stood there, motionless, on the verge of tears.
The world goes on even when it seems to stop. So many of us see images on TV or Facebook, say a quick prayer or mutter how sad and devastating that must be and move on.
My mind, my heart and my prayers are in Haiti today. I am thankful that many of my close friends were very safe in their homes, in secure structures and I am speechless at the stories of love they have shown their friends and neighbors.
In the days and weeks that come I know Haiti will be on the minds of many. Living in Minnesota I have met numerous people who have traveled to Haiti. It is in moments like this that I want to encourage us all to support some of the well established hands on organizations.
Through my time in Haiti I had the pleasure of working with many organizations, many who have employees and loved ones whom homes and life have been torn apart by this storm. If you would like to give, I would encourage you to do so, but do your research. We are encouraging everyone to support one of our partners in Haiti Papillion Enterprise through their state side organization and non-profit, Apparent Project Haiti.
Apparent Project is the non-profit of our partner Papillon Enterprise. They have several hundred employees from their jewelry makers, pottery makers, metal artisans, managers, and restaurant employees. Their work is extensive and their relief efforts have already begun.
Papillion Enterprise is a staple in their community. They provide love, safety, jobs and in this case relief and aid. It is with your help and support that those on the ground will be able to take care of the needs and relief efforts before them. I strongly encourage you to pour into this organizations financially and to continue to cover them with prayer and encouragement.
It also must be said, buy. Buy from us, from them and from our other partners listed on our website HERE. Your purchase is creating jobs and it is through a reliable job that people will be able to support themselves and their families. This is why we are, this is our core. To provide jobs to create sustainable lifestyles. Thank you for your continues support and love.
Haiti is a beautiful place, tomorrow the sun will rise again, it will bring a new day and new hope. May you be strong and may the light find it's way back to your shores. Haiti Cherie, Bonje se jerve.
Don't you just love that there is something to celebrate every day. I am not sure about you, but every day is National Coffee Day for me.
I thought how fitting to tell you guys about one of our newest partners, Singing Rooster Coffee. Haiti has some of the best coffee I have ever had, it is deep and rich and so flavorful.
Singing Rooster is a remarkable company. From pouring into the lives of their farmers to working on reforesting Haiti, a place where less than 5% of the country is forested. They get it and we are excited about our new partnership with them.
Rest assured, your purchase makes a big impact.
"Singing Rooster was established in 2009. We partner commercially with small-holder coffee, cacao (chocolate), and art producers to alleviate poverty in Haiti. We serve as:
- Agricultural and business consultants
- Organizers of pre-harvest financing
- Primary buyers of crops/products at premium prices
- Product transformation into higher value items (like roasted coffee or chocolate bars)
- Business guiders, developers, cheerleaders
- Equitably distributing economic gains
- Market creators"
Just when you think you have something figured out or organized, the wind blows and everything ends up out the window again.
I love when things are woven together, when they come full circle. I recently found a new company to partner with and have found myself in complete awe of what they are doing in Haiti. They are a continued thread in our tapestry.
Thread International is taking recycled plastic bottles from the streets of Haiti (and Honduras) and making fabric. If you have ever visited Haiti or any third world country then you know the amount of littler that adorns every street corner, every drain every where. Haiti doesn't have the basic infrastructure and systems in place to provide clean water to it's residents, needless to say they aren't providing waste removal (of any kind) either.
That's where you come in. That's where normal every day people step up. Haiti has some really great organizations filled with people that have stepped up to the plate, people that have seen the need and done something. People that are making a difference, impacting lives.
Thread is providing jobs. They work with recycling companies in Haiti. Here's how it works: people see plastic, they pick it up, turn it it, get paid. People all over Haiti are able to collect large bags of plastic and turn them in to collection centers that then pay them by the pound. No resume, no language skills needed; just a drive to want to change your situation.
Not only that, but Thread has partnered with numerous other companies in Haiti to increase their impact. Their threads are very intricately and meaningfully woven.
We have some great products in the work using our new cotton/polyester blend indigo fabric that we recently received from Thread. It will be released this Friday with the rest of our line. If you are looking for a fashionable and sustainable way to make an impact, look no further!!!
Thanks for all you do Thread!!! We are looking forward to many more yards of fabric and many more jobs created.
*Many thanks to the Thread International team for use of their pictures.
This is my friend Miquette. Raised in the mountains of Haiti she saw her mother and father give up her youngest sister and a cousin to an orphanage. She stood on the side lines as they left their country for America, never knowing if she would ever see them again. Most orphans in Haiti are orphans of poverty, meaning their parents are alive, but unable to take care of them, unable to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and water. Mothers and fathers and children are dying every day in third world countries from starvation-every day. Their best option was an orphanage.
Miquette did see her sister and cousin again. The family who adopted them kept a promise to Miquette if she was able to keep her promise to her country-to return to Haiti with an education and give the same opportunity to children in her home country of Haiti. She was brought to Minnesota by the family, with hardly any English, and placed in a school in Detroit Lakes, MN. She went on to learn English, graduate High School, go to college and get her nursing degree. She is one of the strongest, hardest working, grittiest people I know. She is beautiful, inside and out.
She lives in Haiti with her husband and their two adorable boys. She runs a 501c3 called TeacHaiti, a school in PaP with a second being built in her home town of St. Michele - where students are given a good education, they are given a chance. Miquette is paying her opportunity and blessings forward, she is keeping her promise.
Miquette became a good friend of mine while I work at Quisqueya Christian School in Haiti, she worked there part time as a nurse and biology teacher. When I left Haiti and began Cedar and Cypress Designs she came on as a partner. As she is still living in Haiti, she works closely with metal workers and artisans and is a supporting partner of our work and products in addition to her role at TeacHaiti. She provides education and jobs and encouragement. I am humbled by her life and her example.
Last week I got to hear her speak here in Minnesota. She brought with her one of her "success stories", Valentine. When Miquette returned to Haiti, she was given money for ten scholarships from her board. There was no school yet, she had no children of her own, she had just graduated and had a dream of helping change the lives of children and families in Haiti through education.
Miquette went to a school and asked which children were in danger of being kicked out because they had not paid. This is common in the Haitian education program, most schools are private and students are required to pay monthly-many attend and never pay. This results in teachers also not being paid which trickles down to poor, under-educated teachers working in many schools.
Miquette was handed a long list with over 50 names on it. She asked which students showed the most promise, who were the hardest workers, the ones who wanted to be there, but simply could not pay. Valentine was close to being kicked out of school for not paying, but she showed significant promise. She was brought into the office and met with both the director of her school and Miquette, she was told that she no longer had to worry about paying for school. She no longer had to wake up, get ready for school, but not know if she would be allowed to attend, to learn. She was given a chance and an opportunity.
Valentine now works at Quisqueya Chrisitian school as the snack shop and lunch room manager. She has over 15 people who she oversees and is loved by every single student and staff member. She is welcoming and kind and has taken her opportunity and made something of her self. She is in America until July 6th for the first time ever. I was inspired by her speech at the TeacHaiti benefit and am encouraged by her success and her story.
I was in a group discussion this morning and some one asked the question “What is a goal or dream you have for your children.” Now I don’t have children...yet, but a thousand small wishes quickly swept across my mind.
Joy. Inner Peace. To know the Lord. Love. Selflessness. Good health…the list in endless.
But as I silently reflected on the question I began thinking of Roseline. In Haiti last week I spend almost every day with Roseline. We sewed and cut fabric. She practiced her stitches, straight line after straight line. I made her back stitch, turn corners and use different fabric types. She made headbands and learned about the frustrations of tension and bobbins running out. Roseline thrived last week…at work. Roseline wandered up the street at noon when we went to lunch, but she didn’t. At home, Roseline is struggling to survive.
Roseline is a single mom of two. She never had the opportunity to go to school, in fact her sister, Renise, was sent from their home town of Cap Haitian, Haiti to Port-au-Prince as a young child. She was sent to beg for money. She lived on the streets and fought to survive.
As I sat in that room in Minnesota, I thought about these two girls who are now a world away from me. I thought about our lives and how very different they are. I thought about their upbringing and mine. I thought about how they struggled every day for a meal, about the morning’s I pulled my soft covers over my head in my warm bed because I didn’t want to get up and go to school. It never crossed my mind that there were girls like me a world away who weren’t able to have the opportunity to go to school.
A job is giving Roseline and many others like her the chance to go from survive to thrive. Roseline is working hard at her new. Her children are not currently living with her because she can’t take care of them. She is barely serving to take care of herself. But a job, that is a game changer for Roseline. A job is giving her the foundations to build her family on. A job is giving Roseline AND her children the chance to thrive.
Join me in honoring people like Roseline and organizations like our partners in Haiti (Haiti’s Handprint, Sa Voix, Papillon Enterprise, Haiti Design Co-op, Anchored in Hope) who work tirelessly to provide jobs. But, don’t forget about yourself. Without you and your purchases there would be no jobs.
Job creation through artisan empowerment.