Posts tagged #Minnesota

Gathered Goods Company

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 (  and of course you can always purchase Cedar and Cypress Designs online!


Well I am from upstate New York (like the REALLY snowy part) and I now live in Minnesota where it happens to be VERY cold. Winter is tough and sometimes I get sad and blue, but I feel its up to me to change that.

It’s no secret that seasonal affective disorder or the “winter blues” is a very real and present thing for those of us up here in the great north. Seasonal affective disorder is characterized as a type of depression experience at the same time every year, typically during the winter months. 

Web-MD says that one cause is due to our body falling out-of-sync with the reduced sunlight - personally I don’t think the below freezing temperatures and chilling winds tend to help either. 

So if you have found yourself feeling "out of sync" this winter, hang on…its almost over! But until the tulips come up, I wanted to share these three tips with you on how to keep your chin up until the spring comes and the cherry blossoms bloom.

  1. Create the daylight your lacking. Yeah, thats right, get it wherever you can. The missing daylight is one of the biggest factors to our changing mood. Open your blinds up and sit near the window whenever possible. Soaking up every ray of sunshine makes a big difference. 
  2. Get out there and enjoy the winter. Now this is something I tried to really get into this year. I went out to Play it Again Sports and bought a new pair of ice skates this year and when I lived in New York I went skiing as much as possible. There are so many winter activities going on, you just need to find some of the things happening in your area and embrace the winter, it might be spring and falls ugly step sister, but she deserves some love. Not to mention there are many additional benefits to healthy activities (skiing, snow shoeing, hiking etc.) and it doesn't hurt to look the part. A new scarf or pair of tights always makes me feel cute and shopping makes me cheerier. If you are looking for something to do in March and live in the Twin Cities area, check out this link.
  3. Try something new. The winter can be a great time to take advantage of the things you wanted to try, but never seem to have the time to during the spring or summer months. Do something you haven’t done since you were a kid or something you have never done before. Finish some of those best sellers, go bowling with a group of friends or host a Gatsby themed dinner party. 

Winter is almost over and spring is just around the corner, but the thing is…winter will be back next year, right about the same time. Until then, get out there in the sunshine, enjoy the summer months, get some sunshine and BE HAPPY.

(Disclosure: I am not a doctor, if you have symptoms of depression please seek professional help.)

About Town: The best Key Lime Pie EVER

Well it has been a few weeks and here we are, back in the cold dreaming of sunshine and sandy beaches. For whatever reason Florida is such a magical place for us. But, here we are, back in Minnesota-rated as the worst winter in the U.S. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am in complete agreement with that article, especially because we pretty much re rated number one or close to it for about everything else. Minnesota is a great place to live, it has beautiful landscapes, a lot to do and is quite charming. But a break to sunny Florida or anywhere south really is a necessity for most of us in the North. Come February everyone has either just returned from the Sunshine state or heading down for a long weekend. 

Thankfully I was able to spend the better part of December and into January down in sunny South West Florida. We had a great time visiting with family and relaxing. We soaked up about every ray of sunshine as we could and ate…a lot. Well a lot of pie that is, which I find to be interesting because I am really more of a cake person. 

Which brings me to Dolly's, Dolly's Produce Patch and Eatery. The pie from Dolly’s is an exception, the exception to the rule. And not just any pie, key lime pie. 

If you are in the Bonita Springs/ Fort Meyers area, breakfast, lunch and pie are a must at Dolly’s. We went once for a very special 40th birthday celebration and had pie, a second time just Jesse and we bought a whole pie, I and on the morning we left for breakfast (becuase: key.lime.pie).

But Dolly's believe it or not has more than just pie. They have a really great priced menu, breakfast all day (open until 2:00 PM) and a local produce market right there! Who doesn't love a good meal, pie and some fresh fruit!

Dolly herself is from the great state of Minnesota, a small frail woman who has some serious grit. She was there each time we were, walking around and chatting to everyone, running the cash register and probably eating pie. If you are in the are, and I know many of you Minnesotans will be in the next few months, I promise, you will not be sorry. Stop over and see Dolly, enjoy the Minnesota paraphernalia, and of course, get some key lime pie. 

Collaboration is key

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.

Encouraged by Opportunity

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.

                                 Valentine, myself and Miquette at the TeacHaiti benefit.

                                 Valentine, myself and Miquette at the TeacHaiti benefit.

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 speaking at the TeacHaiti benefit at Detroit Lakes.

                      Valentine speaking at the TeacHaiti benefit at Detroit Lakes.

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.

Survive VS Thrive

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.


I get asked a lot what I take my website pictures with. People will remark how nice my pictures are on my website. If that has been you, first I want to say thank you! Some times it's nice to feel like you're doing something right.

So my big secret is that I use my...

phone. That's right, my phone, even for this awesome picture of Rachel in our new Minnesota LOVE T shirts.

My little Samsung S 5 or something like that, I am not even sure what it is to be honest, but it does the job and it does it well. I think a lot of the time taking pictures comes down to the person, not the device. Some days I am more "on" than others.

I made my own light box after watching part of a UTube video. It was super easy and has made a huge difference. I still need to work on getting the right lighting, but like everything else, it's a process and little by little I am figuring things out.

I am not a web developer, but I do my own website. I am not a photographer (although admittingly I have done a few weddings in my past and would say I do know some-what what I am doing-ish), but I take my own pics.

I think like anything in life, if you work hard at it, sometimes do a little research, a lot of practice and good old fashion grit, you can figure it out. And if you can't, then ask for help.

This is a learning process. I don't have a degree in business, yet here I am. I didn't go to design, fashion or art school either, but I think I do ok. Whatever your heart is set on, let me be one of the many to tell you, go for it. Whatever your dreams are, pursue them. We are all in this together.

Good luck and God bless.

But first, pictures

We have been writing blogs, but what good is a blog with out pictures. I'll tell you-no good. We have a lot to catch up on about our trip to Haiti still, but I want to have product pictures to go with the stories and visits. We made a light box today which was so much fun (and super easy)! We have been busy taking pictures, naming pictures, editing pictures and finally posting pictures!

Some fun products from our spring line that will be up on the website soon!!! Taken in our new light box!

Some fun products from our spring line that will be up on the website soon!!! Taken in our new light box!

You might know that we recently went to Haiti on a buying trip, we brought back a ton of fun new products, picked up two new companies (yey for new friends), but now we need to photograph it all and get them on line.

Before we left for Haiti we were busy making products for our Made in America line. We are so excited that most of them are finally on line-well most of them.

Next up is our spring line from Haiti! Thank you for being patient, keep checking in as new things will be up daily!

There are so so many exciting things in the future for us. If you are a praying type, please keep us in your prayers, we have some exciting possibilities in our future and need to discern through what it all looks like.

Confessions from a small business owner

Sometimes when I write, I say "we" and "our"...really Cedar and Cypress Designs as far as employees is just "me".

I sometimes feel that if I use we and our I will sound like a more legit business, but the truth is, this little steam boat here is just me. Figuring it out as I go. 

In reality, I have no idea what I am doing-that is to say, this isn't what I have a college degree in-but there seems to be a great community out there. Community I am finding as I go and community that has surrounded me for while.

Sometimes I justify my use of "we" because Jesse, the love of my life, has a lot to do with Cedar and Cypress Designs. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't be (there is that we again).  I am not sure if that justifies my use of "we", but in an effort to keep it real with you all, I am going to keep using it.

This week I am going down to Haiti and I am not quite sure what to do. I have taken some financial risks in opening a business as you can imagine one might. I have about $500 to spend and that comes pretty close to draining our business account-for this month at least. However, I buy from four different companies in Haiti who each have their own whole sale minimum. My small spending budget sort of puts me in a bind. I know what I plan to do when I get down there, I have figured out in my mind and allocated my money, but at the end of the day, it sucks that you can't buy from everyone.

I am over the moon to have the opportunity to go to Haiti. This trip isn't purely business, it was a Christmas gift from that other half of the "we". We are visiting friends and enjoying our favorite island while also purchasing some fun new goodies for all of you. I do wish I could go to Haiti every time I am ready to place a new order, the reality is I wont be able to.

I appreciate the community of sellers and artisans in Haiti, I look up to them all. They are each entrepreneurs who have been where I am at one point. And honestly, I hope to have half of an impact as they do one day. Until then, I am going to keep pressing forward, but if you have any advice, kind words or thoughts-I would surely appreciate it!

Cheers to sunshine and palm trees, good friends and lots of laughs! See you soon Haiti

Valentine's Day and a Weekend Long Show

Well we had a great four day show last weekend. Everything we made at the show and then some is coming with us on our trip to Haiti next week. We are traveling to Haiti for one week to catch up with friends, celebrate some birthdays and buy buy buy our new spring line! Leaving MN in February, it was still very cold, but here's to hoping that when we return March 3rd the ice will have started to go out!

Thank you for everyone who came out to support us in Bloomington at Southtown Center and for 2 Harts Promotion, great work on a successful first show! It is so much fun to talk about why Cedar and Cypress started and what it means. Haiti is a huge part of our hearts and the decision to return to America doesn't seem to get any easier, but Cedar and Cypress allows us to continue our involvement there and that is why we do what we do.


We met the grandmother of a friend who we met while in Haiti and made some new friends with vendors.

Now we are in Florida taking a little break from the cold, soaking in some much needed vitamin D and doing some work on the website!

Stay tuned for lots of exciting posts while we are in Haiti as well as some exciting news from up in Minnesota!!!

Thanks for stopping in, we hope you have some sunshine in your life wherever you are.