Posts tagged #Small Business

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.

National Coffee Day!

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"

Woven Together with THREAD

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.

Photographer-ish

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.

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

Is this fair trade?

I am not a member of Fair Trade, I don't exactly know how or what that means. I do know that this week I was able to pay all my debts to the companies I work with in Haiti, totaling over 1,000 (US) which was pretty darn exciting to me. This means I get to buy more things to add to the website for you to come and purchase. That means more people are employed and earning and decent LIVING wage.

A living wage is more than survival, its more that 5$ a day, its more than not knowing where your next meal is from. Christmas is a beautiful time, there are lights and gifts and sometimes even snow. There is a baby in a manger and a reason for this season. A king who came to live and die for our sins.

But Christmas can also be a dark, difficult season. Poverty and desperation can bring out the worst in people. Thank you for supporting us so we are able to support companies in Haiti. Companies that in the the thick of the desperation. Mothers and wife's, husbands and close friends of mine who have made sacrifices of thanksgiving with families and Black Friday shopping in order to provide some one else a job. They gave up comfort to make a difference in the desperation.

But do not think they do this alone, you play a special role in this circle. Through your purchase with us (and possibly other "fair trade" organizations) you are providing a living wage, putting food on a table in a little house of a family down on a little island called Haiti. You could be paying for a school uniform, books or even tuition for a month with your purchase. But hear me, you are playing a part, you are making a difference. If all that isn't fair trade, then I'm not sure what is.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting us. Know it does not end here, but goes far beyond our doors. Happy shopping...tis the season.

*Pictures courtesy of Papillion Enterprises.

#apparel

There is no way I could do the last few months justice. The Lord has opened the most amazing doors for me and really rained down some incredible blessings. When I got back from my trip to New York, I went to a shopping party at a boutique in North East Minneapolis called Flaunt Accessories wearing one of my original sweaters in an amazing aztec print. Melissa the shop owner was there (she is always there) and was so excited about the sweaters. She asked me if I would be interested in selling at the shop, many of the items are made by local MN artists. I was over joyed at the opportunity.

Since then I have been busy creating and perfecting new patters and working on finding the right prints for each one. It has been the most incredible opportunity and I am so grateful for Melissa for inviting me to be a part of her fantastic team.

November has been full of shows and deliveries. Coming up this Friday is Flaunt's five year anniversary and you can buy our one of a kind, hand made (by me!) designs there. They are also open Wednesday-Friday. Check out their website for more info and be sure to check out ours for all the great things that are arriving from Haiti for the holiday season!

Complications in Communication

I am not the best communicator at times, I am however really great at being super emotional and impulsive. Not an overwhelming awesome combination when you have to be professional as a business owner. When something goes wrong in an aspect of my life, I don't always go about it in the best way. I tend to fly off the handle a little, but its something I have been working on for a long time. 

When stress levels compound my short fuse, it's all a big recipe for disaster. Not to mention sprinkling in some of those general emotions. Learning to control all this is a huge feat for sure. I have to say when things go wrong or get all upside down and complicated I am really glad to know the art of prayer and it puts me at ease to know the impact of prayer. Turning my eyes to the Lord has been essential over the last few years on the mission field in Haiti and that is no different now as I embark on this adventure of owning my own business.

Things don't go the way you expect and there isn't really anything to do but deal with it, or in the words of Carly Fiorina "Figure it out." Apparently that's what great leaders do so if I want to be a good leader in business, my family and other areas of my life, then I better start figuring it out.

Ready. Set. Go.

Cheers to the weekend!!!