Blogour journey into making a difference, one baby blanket at a time

Apr

08

EllieFunDay Bespoke Custom Quilts

These bespoke quilts have been waiting to be shared but I really didn’t have time till now!  I made a very select few for our Indiegogo funders WAYYYY back. I was commissioned by the grandmother to make a custom quilt for her grand-daughter. She really gave me free reign to design anything that I wanted. The baby comes from a great legacy of strong and vibrant women, so I thought that I would represent the 3 generations of the women through the interlocking circles and the stars. The center circle I filled with hand-painted and embroidered white stars representing baby Katelyn’s new life. The gold circle representing her grandmother and the silver one her mother. (on a crazy side-note her mother gave birth to her accidentally in their NYC apartment. She came so fast, that her momma delivered her all by herself! Hence the hand-embroidered binding detail with her birthday specs.)

I hope you love this quilt as much as I do. As you can see…I’m all about the details…everything is hand-made.

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Apr

02

Autism Awareness Day: A Mom’s Personal Journey

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When Sarah initially asked me to write a blog post about autism, I said “yes”; but to be honest, I was very hesitant to actually follow through. I prayed about it, and discussed it with my husband, and we agreed that I have a lot to say on the matter, and I actually want to say it.

My five year old daughter, Austyn has autism, which we have kept fairly quiet about until now. Here are a few questions, and my honest answers to those questions.

1. How did you learn your child was on the autism spectrum? 

When Austyn was 1, she was starting to talk and could say words like “banana”. After a few months she just stopped and wouldn’t speak, no matter how hard we tried . She really didn’t speak much until she turned 3&1/2, and even then it was a rarity. Around her third birthday we noticed she started having emotional outbursts, and throwing some major tantrums. When she was four we had her evaluated by the school district in order to get her into preschool and receive speech therapy services. It was then that they diagnosed her with autism. To learn more about Autism, visit www.autismspeaks.org

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2. What were your initial thoughts/feelings when you learned of her diagnosis?

To be honest, I didn’t see it coming, and it was a tough pill to swallow. I felt like I had failed her somehow. Maybe I didn’t take the right prenatal vitamins when I was pregnant with her, or maybe we accidentally exposed her to something that brought this on. As the parent, you always feel responsible. Thankfully the period of sorrow was very short lived. Life does, and must go on. And the diagnosis could always be far, far worse then this. We chose to be thankful it was only autism.

 3. What was the hardest part for you in all of this?

The most difficult aspect of having a special needs child (regardless of the diagnosis), is the judgment and condemnation you receive from others. I have heard everything from “I’m so sorry you have to deal with this” to “well that sucks for you” (<—That person regretted that one…) . Even the sincere comments, although said with good intentions, are upsetting to me. My husband and I made the decision to not let this define our family. To not let it rule our lives. And especially, to not feel sorry for ourselves for being given a child with autism. So when someone gets that look of pity in their eyes, or that look of disgust because she’s losing her cool in public; that is what is most difficult.

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4.What would you like others to know about autism?

There are many forms of autism, many much more serious then my daughter. But I know of many cases where having autism does not mean they do not get to lead a healthy, fulfilling, happy life. Our daughter will most likely be able to go to college, have a career of some sort, live on her own, make friends, and be genuinely happy. And even if she doesn’t get to do any of those things, it’s ok. The other thing I’d like people to know is that just because a child or adult looks completely average, does not mean they don’t struggle with some form of disability. Don’t be so quick to judge a person or parent of a child who can’t seems to control themselves or their child. You literally have no clue what’s really going on. I am that parent. Know that we are doing our best, but many situations are new to us, and we are learning as we go, so your looks and comments only bring discouragement and hurt to a parent who might already feel alone in this process. A quick smile or encouraging comment will have a much greater effect then you know.

5. How has this changed your outlook as a mother?

I have learned SO much about unconditional love and patience. I have had people say “I don’t know how you do it” and “I’d die if my kids were that close in age” (Those statements have been made probably thousands of times, between Austyns diagnosis, and the fact that we had three kids within 3&1/2 years of each other). The honest truth is; you do what you have to do. In the process of doing what I have to do, I have learned just how much I love my daughter (and her two older brothers). I have learned that I will fiercely defend her and protect her from abnormally cruel people. I have also learned how to be more patient. Life would be so much more frustrating, and there would be far less joy if I didn’t learn to be more patient. Do I lose my patience sometimes? I have three kids; what do you think.. I’m no saint, but because of this journey we are on, I have learned to just roll with it, and not sweat the things that used to get me riled up. It’s actually really nice…

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6. How does autism effect your everyday life?

I’d be lying if I said life with an autistic child was as “normal” as with any other child. We do have to make adjustments to our routine to avoid potential issues. We have to work around her and her mood at times. There are places we do not go, because we have noticed that for some reason they trigger a tantrum or are overwhelming for her and she struggles to keep it together (ie, Nordstrom Rack for some reason is too much for her), or she doesn’t have the attention span (ie the movie theater). Austyn does require us to make a lot of decisions based on how we think she will handle it, however, these decisions typically make for much smoother sailing in our day to day life, making those decisions very worth it for our family.

7. What joys and beautiful experiences have you seen from this?

Every accomplishment, every new experience, everything that makes her laugh, every treat, every hug and kiss….they bring more joy then I could even describe (apparently I can’t even write about it without getting misty eyed..).  Her most recent thing that just melts my heart, is this: When I go lay down to rest for a bit (I am pregnant with baby #4- yay!), Austyn will come to the door, knock, and ask “Do you wanna build a snowmaaaaaaan?” (from the movie Frozen). Ugh….she’s so dang cute…. Another thing that brings joy to my heart, and really is just beautiful to me, is to see other people interact with her, and to see them laugh and play with her, investing love and time into making her happy (crying again!). When they’re able to see past her speech delay, occasional tantrums (aka autism), and see her for who she really is deep down, that makes this mama so proud and happy for my favorite girl!

Autism gives my daughter a unique perspective and outlook on life. Something I would never get to experience if it weren’t for her condition. At such a young age, she already nurtures and cares for those around her. Austyn is hilarious. She loves to laugh. She LOVES music and to dance and sing. Austyn doesn’t care what other people think of her; something so many people wish they could say. This girl brings so much joy to our lives, and to the lives of those around us.

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8. What would you say to a parent who’s child has recently been diagnosed with autism?

Don’t become the victim. Choose to be strong and whole for your child. Don’t apologize for your childs disability. There is nothing “wrong” with them. They are uniquely made, and are as wonderful and special as every other child out there.

Get involved with other parents of kids with special needs. They don’t have to share the same diagnosis. I have become friends with two other moms of children with different needs, who’s children are in the same kindergarten class as Austyn. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have them in my life. As much as I wish their kids did not suffer from the conditions they do, I am so thankful to have friends who truly understand what our family goes through, without even the slightest bit of judgement or condemnation. They are truly a blessing to me.

Additional note: 

I am very happy to add that since starting preschool under two years ago, and thanks to teachers and aids who are well educated in the area of special needs children, Austyn has made more progress with her speech and behavior management then we imagined! She has a teacher and group of aids at her elementary school now that is nothing short of amazing. She can now speak in sentences and communicates so much better then at the beginning of the school year! Her behavior has improved by leaps and bounds. Her teacher has gone as far as saying that she is the biggest transformation he’s ever had. My husband and I will brace ourselves for a meltdown (because those particular words or circumstances have always brought one on), to find her respond with understanding and acceptance. It is so encouraging and motivating to see her make so much progress in such a short amount of time. It truly makes me so excited and hopeful for her future progress and potential. She really is my favorite girl ever.

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Feb

07

Hyderabad : MyChoices, empowering peacemakers

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Empowerment means taking risks, giving up comfort and stepping out in boldness to do something that matters.

Over the past few months I’ve gotten to know Elca Grobling, the founder of MyChoices a former Aussie finance manager who decided to move her entire family of 5 to Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh to make a difference for women that have suffered from domestic violence. Elca’s passion for this cause is inherent in her zeal as she shares about the issues here in India that women face.

In Andra Pradesh alone 30% of the violence enacted is against a woman. Most domestic violence cases are attributed to alcohol, especially in poorer families. Dowry, lack of education and child marriages also contribute to this. Her vision has been to train local women with counseling skills to go back into their own communities to be the “peacemakers”. The hope is that these peacemakers can be safe points of contact for abused women so that they have an outlet to share the issues that they are facing. The peacemakers also provide access to onsite professional counselors at MyChoices.

MyChoices also started a sewing unit recently in efforts to support the cause and provide good work to women within the communities they’re reaching. We’re excited about the development and may consider partnering with them in the coming year to produce new products.

In light of this, we conducted a basic skills assessment in order to assess the readiness of the sewing unit. Calvina helped us conduct a simple eye-exam (while trying the encourage the women NOT to help each other was another battle.) We also gave the women some test samples to produce. Our hope is that we can see improvement over time and that they would be in position to produce export-ready product in the near future. I’m excited again to see the possibilities!

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Jan

31

India, here we go again!

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c.1880's PHOTO INDIA CHAR MINAH HYDRABAD JOHNSTON Nizam's procession in Old Hyderabad

I need to be honest with you, it’s been a year since I’ve been back to India and I return this time with mixed feelings. The last time we left with utter sadness because the sewing development we hoped to start was not ready to take their business to the export quality that we needed for our market. We are still happy to hear that they are doing local projects for the school and are trying to be self-sustaining.

I needed a break to retool, meditate and pray to see what our next steps would be. We’ve come a long way since then. We’ve launched our line of Stitched Wonder Blankets, we are in 6 stores (and counting!) and we will be doing our first tradeshow in NYC in March. It’s all happening so incredibly fast and I can’t wait to see where this year will take us.

This Tuesday we will be back in India doing more development work with our new sewing unit in Dharmapuri. Flowering Desert works with marginalized women that have suffered some form of mistreatment from society and need a safe place to heal. They are the craftsman that have made the Stitched Wonder blankets. This series took us 6 months to R&D and get to the final product that you see now in our shops. There were many iterations of designs and quality checks, from the embroidery colors, to the tags, to the bags that our blankets come with. Each component is carefully scrutinized for the best quality. My standard is if I don’t love it, nothing goes out. Your purchase empowers these women with a way out of poverty!

We will also be heading to Hyderabad to vett and develop another potential sewing center. They work with empowering women counselors to go back into the slums and give women support who have suffered from domestic violence. I’m excited to see what new and potential goods we can make with these ladies. What new goods would you like to see in the EllieFunDay shop?

 

 

 

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Jan

15

BLANKET THE WORLD WITH LOVE {2}

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Ellie Fun Day’s Second Annual “Blanket the World Day with Love

Remember the movie “Crash?” A small or big action snowballed into something better or worse. I remember one time I woke up on the right side of the bed and everyone that crossed my path that day saw the better side of me. I laughed, smiled, and even made a new friend. Another time, I woke up on the wrong side and I rolled my eyes at people and argued with my husband about who knows what. That led to many people having a horrible day probably (oops, sorry!).

The smallest acts can pay it forward (or backward, but hopefully not) in a HUGE way. You never know! Whatever it may be, a simple act of love and kindness can go a long way!

Join us in this day to show a little lovin’! Tag your pictures and share your story to enter into a LOVEly giveaway by using the hashtags:

#elliefunday

#blankettheworldwithlove____(Put your city)

#whereintheworld (Did you take a creative and funny picture with your Ellie Fun Day blanket?)

…and post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

 

Here are some ideas for what you can do with a family, friend, coworker, or even stranger!

1) L-ips (physical and words)

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*give someone a little smooch or peck, who doesn’t love that? (preferably to someone you know)
*say something you appreciate about them that you haven’t said in a while
*give a HUG (studies say it prolongs your life)
*vow to say thank you or hello to everyone that comes your day today

2) O-ffering (gifts)

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*buy someone a lunch
*pay for someone’s toll behind you
*buy someone coffee

3) V-isit (quality time and acts)

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*spend some time with someone you haven’t sat down with for a long time
*bring a friend or family member out on a date

4) E-ncouragement (words)

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*print out our free printables here, something short and sweet can make someone smile
*tell someone they are doing a great job
*call someone and really ask how they are doing

We should be blanketing our world with love everyday. But we’re planning ONE day where we’ll all do it together! Mark your calendars – JANUARY 18th! What will you be doing for “Blanket the World with Love” Day?

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Jan

05

And the Winner of our Silly Rabbit Blanket is…

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Congrats Tanya J.! Your littles will love these prizes. Please respond to us within 24 hours to claim your prize. Stay tuned folks for more fun giveaways coming this year!

Many of our blankets have shipped out all over the states and we would love to see your littles with them. Feel free to post on Facebook and #whereintheworld #elliefunday, and tag us in Instagram @elliefunday!

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Dec

30

Giveaway EllieFunDay Silly Rabbit Blanket, Zen Swaddle and Kira Kids Tee!

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The Silly Rabbit blanket was the very first prototype that I made of our Stitched Wonder series. I somehow fell in love with the whimsical nature of a field of bunny rabbits all vying for the one carrot.

For this final giveaway, we’ve got 2 amazing partners! Kira Kids and Nested Bean are both great friends and mentors of mine. Kira Kids have the most adorable printed tees for kids, especially the Baby Local Love ones. Nested Bean so graciously allowed me to work at their tradeshow booth at ABC Kids. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Their Zen Swaddle is the only swaddle on the market that mimics the mother’s touch. It’s pretty amazing since mom’s have reported babies sleep 2 hours longer in it!

HOW TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY:

COMMENT TO WIN

Tell us about your most favorite gift that you’ve received! 

SPREAD THE WORD

twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for an entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

FACEBOOK

like our Facebook page

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, January 3, at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

74 Comments

Dec

29

WINNER OF OUR STARRY NIGHT STITCHED WONDER BABY BLANKET AND HAPTIC LAB CONSTELLATION PRINT

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Tori B. you are the lucky winner! You have 24 hours to claim your Starry Night Blanket and Haptic Lab Poster. This Monday, will be the last of our 8 weeks of Handcrafted for Life Partner giveaways. This one will be extra special! Stay tuned!

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Dec

23

Giveaway EllieFunDay Starry Night Blanket and Haptic Lab Constellation Poster

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How did Christmas sneak up on us so fast?? I’m looking forward to some R&R soon! We thought we’d save this giveaway for Christmas week since it’s our favorite. When I was a little girl, I remember my dad drove us out to see Haley’s comet. He told me that it only comes around once every 80 years and that I’m lucky enough to see it twice in my lifetime. I love the stories that stars tell, the legends, the pictures that they paint in the sky. This was my inspiration. What do we dream of? What do we aspire to be? The stars are a keen reminder of the hope that we wish to achieve.

We’ve partnered with HapticLab for this awesome giveaway. I’ve oogled over Emily’s map quilts for a long time and when I came across her insanely well-funded Kickstarter, I was sold. My hubbie surprised me with a constellation quilt for my birthday. She’s so generously partnered with us to give away this beautiful letter pressed constellation poster. We are both kindred spirits as makers of blankets that tell stories.

HOW TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY:

COMMENT TO WIN

Ask us a question! We’d love to share more about EllieFunDay.

SPREAD THE WORD
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for an entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

FACEBOOK

like our Facebook page

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, December 27th, at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

 

 

 

55 Comments

Dec

22

Winner of our Love Struck Stitched Wonder Baby Blanket and Guava Mitts

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And the winner is Lisa Samy! You have 24 hours to claim your love struck and Guava Mitts! On Monday, we are giving away OUR favorite blankie this one is extra special, just for Christmas!

 

 

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Dec

16

Giveaway #6 EllieFunDay LoveStruck Blanket and GuavaMitts!

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I’m in love with our blankies! Yes they JUST LANDED and we’ve shipped them off to exclusive retailers just in the nick of time for Christmas. This is monumental on so many different occasions. We’ve worked hard with our women in India to give them a sustainable fair-wage to help empower their families out of poverty. They’ve had a month of learning an entirely new product and persevered through the difficulties and have now succeeded!

So for this giveaway we are giving away our LOVESTRUCK BLANKET in partnership with an awesome company that I’ve come to love dearly and personally. The stupendous ladies (yes they are stupendous, if you meet them you will know exactly why) at GuavaKids have been my fairy-god mommas in this whole foray into the children’s product business. They’ve paved the path and shared with me many great tips and trade secrets (that I will never reveal). We are giving away a pair of their awesome Guava Mitts with our Lovestruck Blanket.

Guava Mitts are baby mitts designed to stay on a baby’s hands comfortably and can be adjusted to the right sizes as they grow. By wearing mittens, babies no longer run the risk of scratching their faces, and can avoid ingesting germs from others who touch their hands.

Here’s how to enter:

COMMENT TO WIN
Tell us about yourself! (what do you do? where do you live? do you have kiddies? what’s your favorite pasttime?)

SPREAD THE WORD
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for an entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

FACEBOOK

like our Facebook page

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, December 20th, at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

38 Comments

Dec

09

Giveaway EllieFunDay Crosses Blanket and 45Wall Design Goodies

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I really love the simplicity of Swiss Design. Our Crosses Blanket was inspired by the Swiss Army blankets that I’ve loved for so long. The durability and the timelessness really are a great baby gift for the modern baby. This blanket was also inspired by my love for A Merry Mishap and her aesthetic. I’m always smitten by her black and white homescapes.

Our dear friend Traci from 45Wall Design so generously partnered with us on this giveaway! Her crosses pocket jotter, notecards and the Mumford and Sons inspired poster are such a great compliment to our baby blanket. She lovingly screen prints all of her posters by hand. If you haven’t seen her Instagram feed, it’s filled with inspiring images of her daily life!

Here’s how to enter our giveaway:

COMMENT TO WIN
Where is your go-to source for baby gifting ideas? blogs (which ones)? pinterest (who do you follow)? catalogs?

SPREAD THE WORD
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for an entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

FACEBOOK

like our Facebook page

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, December 13th, at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

26 Comments

Dec

08

Winner of our EllieFunDay Rain Clouds Organic Blanket and Chewbeads

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Brooke! It’s time to sing in the rain because you’re the winner of our Rain Clouds Baby Blanket and Chewbeads Necklace!

We know that Christmas is in full-swing. These blankets are the best gift for the special brand new niece or nephew, grandchild, or little for the holidays. It keeps them warm during the chilly months and it helps empower marginalized women! We are happy to issue a gift certificate to gift since they don’t arrive till January 2014.

Come back to our blog on Monday and see which blanket we are giving away!

 

2 Comments

Dec

02

GIVEAWAY!! EllieFunDay Organic Rain Clouds Blanket and Chewbeads Necklace

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I’m starting to feel like Santa Claus since it’s so fun to give away our blankies! Last week we asked all of you what your favorite baby gift was, well, this week I’m sharing mine! Chewbeads has caught my attention since I spotted them at a cute boutique while I was visiting Alexandria, VA. I love them since they’re both a fashionable accessory for mom AND a great teether for baby. We thought we’d give them away with our Rain Clouds blanket since they match them so adorably! Our Rain Clouds blanket was inspired by my other favorite city PORTLAND! *hello PDXers!* I love snuggling up with a hot caramel apple cider and my warm and cozy blanket when it’s raining outside!

How to enter:

COMMENT TO WIN
What’s your favorite online AND local boutique for baby gifts?

BLOG FOLLOWER
follow our blog by clicking on our RSS Feed to the right, and leave a comment below stating so

FACEBOOK FAN
become a facebook fan and leave a comment for an entry!

TWITTER FOLLOWER
leave a comment if you’re a twitter follower for an extra entry and give us your handle

SPREAD THE WORD
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for one last entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

PINTEREST
Follow, Repin and Tag @elliefunday

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, December 6th, at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

71 Comments

Dec

01

Winner of our Ahoy Baby Blanket and Honey & Bloom Tote

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Congrats Vanessa G! You and your little will love this prize! We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! (I got lots of snuggle time with my new nephew!) We are slowly moving into our Christmas mode and working on getting orders into stores near you! Tell us where you would like to see our EllieFunDay blankies sold!

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Nov

25

GIVEAWAY! EllieFunDay Ahoy Organic Baby Blanket and Honey & Bloom Weekend Tote

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We are in the middle of production! Things are heating up and I can’t wait for you to feel the decadent softness of our blankies!

I think that this week so many of you will be eager to win our fan favorite blankie!

To kick off week 3 of our giveaway we’ve partnered with a fellow designer, Becky Hui over at Honey & Bloom. Becky is the master of distilling designs to it’s simplest form and beauty. I personally really love her Gold Bits Collection.

This week we are giving away one of our Ahoy Blankets with a Honey & Bloom weekend tote.

The Ahoy Blanket came from my love of sailing in the vast open sea. I love the smell of the salt air with the wind blowing through my hair. It also reminds me of how hope is an anchor to my soul in my turbulent times. I think that Becky’s “Let’s Go Sailing” weekend bag is a perfect marriage of both of these sentiments.

How to enter:

COMMENT TO WIN
What is your favorite baby gift to give?

BLOG FOLLOWER
follow our blog by clicking on our RSS Feed to the right, and leave a comment below stating so

FACEBOOK FAN
become a facebook fan and leave a comment for an entry!

TWITTER FOLLOWER
leave a comment if you’re a twitter follower for an extra entry and give us your handle

SPREAD THE WORD
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for one last entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

PINTEREST
Follow, Repin and Tag @elliefunday

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, November 29th at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

53 Comments

Nov

24

EllieFunDay Dots and Dashes Organic Baby Blanket & Dozi Hash Tray WINNER

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Thank you all that have entered to win and many thanks to Dozi Design for partnering with us. This is week 2 of 8 WEEKS of Giveaways! I’m excited about this next giveaway because it seems like the next blankie is the popular one! Meanwhile, our pre-orders are stacking up quickly, so go and purchase an EllieFunDay Blankie for a little one before this batch runs out!

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Nov

18

GIVEAWAY! EllieFunDay Dots & Dashes Blanket and Dozi Design Hash Birch Tray

 

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We are excited about our new organic baby blanketsHandcrafted for Life™ means that our baby blankets are made with the utmost respect for the PLANET and the PEOPLE. All of EllieFunDay’s organic baby blankets are handcrafted by marginalized women in India. Each baby blanket purchased provides a fair wage and a dignified living for a disenfranchised woman.  We do our best to source responsibly and to be mindful of our planet. That is why our mantra is to buy less, buy better.

Each of our organic baby blankets feature 4 layers of organic cotton muslin that is super soft upon the touch and is perfect for baby’s delicate skin. Breathability, washability and durability are of utmost importance to us. Our blankets have been road tested by the best of the best…that means moms and kiddos alike!

To kick off week 2 of our giveaway we’ve partnered with my dear friend Wendy over at Dozi Design. She is the master design of patterns and many liken her designs to Lotta Jansdotter or Orla Kiely. So I’m so honored to have her partner with us on this giveaway.

This week we are giving away one of our Dots & Dashes Organic Baby Blanket with a beautiful Dozi Hash Birch Tray.

The Dots & Dashes Organic Baby Blanket is one of those blanket designs that will span beyond the baby years. I love it for it’s simplicity and it’s modern play off of the tiniest elements! I think that that Dozi’s Hash Birch Tray is a wonderful compliment to your dining table to serve with tea and cookies or even just a place to rest all your baby essentials all in one place.

How to enter:

COMMENT TO WIN
leave a comment with your favorite blanket from our shop

BLOG FOLLOWER
follow our blog by clicking on our RSS Feed to the right, and leave a comment below stating so

FACEBOOK FAN
become a facebook fan and leave a comment for an entry!

TWITTER FOLLOWER
leave a comment if you’re a twitter follower for an extra entry and give us your handle

SPREAD THE WORD
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for one last entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

PINTEREST
Follow, Repin and Tag @elliefunday

INSTAGRAM
Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday
Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, November 22nd at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

78 Comments

Nov

17

EllieFunDay Organic Fox & Forest Blanket and Freshly Picked Moccasins Winner

8Weeks_Winner_Fox

 

Thank you all that have entered to win and many thanks to Freshly Picked for partnering with us. This is just week 1 of 8 WEEKS of Giveaways! Come back Monday to enter our NEXT fabulous giveaway! Meanwhile, our pre-orders are stacking up quickly, so go and purchase an EllieFunDay Blankie for a little one before this batch runs out!

1 Comments

Nov

11

EllieFunDay Organic Baby Blanket Giveaway with Freshly Picked Moccasins

Fox & Forest GiveawayFox_MagnifyingGlass_BabyBlanket FoxAcorns_BabyBlanket Freshly_moccs_115_grande

FreshlyPicked

 

We are excited to start our 8 Weeks of Handcrafted for Life Giveaway. Handcrafted for Life™ means that our baby blankets are made with the utmost respect for the PLANET and the PEOPLE. All of EllieFunDay’s organic baby blankets are handcrafted by marginalized women in India. Each baby blanket purchased provides a fair wage and a dignified living for a disenfranchised woman.  We do our best to source responsibly and to be mindful of our planet. That is why our mantra is to buy less, buy better.

Each of our organic baby blankets feature 4 layers of organic cotton muslin that is super soft upon the touch and is perfect for baby’s delicate skin. Breathability, washability and durability are of utmost importance to us. Our blankets have been road tested by the best of the best…that means moms and kiddos alike!

We’ve partnered with our favorite makers in the industry to bring you 8 Weeks of Handcrafted for Life Giveaway! Every Monday, for 8 weeks we are giving away a goodie from one of our favorite makers alongside of one of our blankets.

Today we are giving away one of our FOX & FOREST Organic Baby Blanket with a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins!

How to enter:

COMMENT TO WIN

leave a comment with your favorite blanket from our shop

 

BLOG FOLLOWER

follow our blog by clicking on our RSS Feed to the right, and leave a comment below stating so

 

FACEBOOK FAN

become a facebook fan and leave a comment for an entry!

 

TWITTER FOLLOWER

leave a comment if you’re a twitter follower for an extra entry and give us your handle

 

SPREAD THE WORD

twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for one last entry!

come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please

tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!

 

PINTEREST

Follow, Repin and Tag @elliefunday

 

INSTAGRAM

Follow us, Repost and Tag @elliefunday

 

Giveaway ends on FRIDAY, November 15th  at 8pm, PST

Please check back on Sunday to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

354 Comments

Nov

08

EllieFunDay Baby Blanket Giveaway Coming Soon!

8Weeks_Giveaway_Preview

In anticipation of our new line of STITCHED WONDER organic baby blankets we’ve partnered with 8 amazing companies that believe in the value of good design brings empowerment. For eight straight weeks starting on MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11th, we will be giving away one of our baby blankets in partnership with another company’s goods. We’re entirely excited for this giveaway! So mark your calendars, SHARE, TWEET, PIN, & BLOG!

Here’s a list of our upcoming partners!

Freshly PickedHoney&Bloom  | 45Wall Design | GuavaKids

Haptic Lab | Chewbeads | Dozi | Kira

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

PRESALE OF STITCHED WONDER BLANKETS

Everyone is so patiently waiting for our next line of new organic baby blankets to be launched. We appreciate your patience. Starting also next MONDAY, November 11, we will be launching our new site with the ability to pre-buy a baby blanket. As always supplies are limited, so ordering ensures a baby blanket for you and your loved one. Stock up as well! We are doing our best to get these to you by Christmas, but no promises yet. Early January 2014 is our estimate ship date. If you would like a nice certificate to gift for Christmas meanwhile, we can send one over to you!

0 Comments

Aug

27

Exciting News! Sneak Peek at New EllieFunDay Blanket Designs

Sorry friends for being on radio silence these past few months. We’ve been super busy and we’re working hard on some amazingly NEW beautiful baby blankets. It’s been really exciting but stressful too. There are so many moving parts; I wish it all could be done overnight, but alas that’s not quite how the world works.

We want to share some really awesome things on the horizon:

New Designs!

We’ll also be unveiling some new blankie designs! We’re really proud of this new line and they’ll also feature the unique skills of the women we’ll be partnering with. We’re confident you’ll love them and will have pre-ordering information out soon. In the mean time, like our Facebook page or contact us to be put on the email list. These are the best ways to get the most up-to-date info! Meanwhile here’s a teaser from our photoshoot with these cuties!


New Partnerships! We’ll be partnering with a cooperative just south of Bangalore committed to employing extremely marginalized women, some of whom are suffering from AIDS. We’re really blessed to have the opportunity to empower and equip a community of women out of poverty.

New Stores! We’re not opening a store (yet), but we’ll be in select boutiques later this year! We’re humbled by the very positive response to our new line and excited that you may be able to buy our blankets in a store near you.  We’re thrilled about these new retail partnerships and will share soon where you’ll be able to find them.

Just a short update for now! We’re so thankful to you, our friends, for partnering with us in so many ways. Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you! In the meantime for us, it’s back to work! Thanks and will update more soon!

Photo credit: Calvina Photography

1 Comments

Aug

26

We need an intern!

Hey Folks – The work is heating up and we need some help! We’re looking for a design and marketing intern who will assist us in our day-to-day operations. A lot of it will focus on helping us get this next batch of blankies out to the world! Job description below and please refer to friends. Thanks and let us know if you have any questions!

Internship Description – Design/Marketing Intern:

Ellie Fun Day designs baby blankets that change the lives of marginalized women in India. Our goal is to provide gainful employment to women who do not have access to fair and dignified work. Our mission is to design the most amazing products while providing a sustainable pathway out of crushing poverty.

EFD needs a design and marketing intern who wants to change the world. You will be working primarily with the Chief Blankie Crafter. Unfortunately it’s an unpaid internship, but you’ ll be getting invaluable experience and we promise a few good meals.

What is expected?

  • Design assistance for marketing collateral, packaging, email campaigns, etc.
  • Maintain Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets
  • Email/make phone calls to media and distribution outlets for product marketing and sales
  • Assisting with sales fulfillment, shipping and inventory management
  • Interfacing with customers to help process sales and solve problems
  • Assisting with regular company operations including communication, production and administrative tasks
  • Adobe Creative Suite skills
  • Stellar communication skills
  • Good attitude; no babies
  • Drive and courage to learn and try new things
  • Good sense of humor
  • Around 15 hrs per week – hours flexible

Nice-to-haves?

  • Self-starter with a track record of pursuing AND completing interesting projects
  • Passionate about social justice, social enterprises and doing things that have meaning
  • Retail/product experience
  • Amazing social media/marketing insight/ability
  • Likes and understands startups
  • Foodie

Send your resume, any work samples, and other details you think are appropriate to hello@elliefunday.com.

The shoes you’ll have to fill from our previous intern Karissa:

Karissa

0 Comments

Jun

10

Moving Forward

It’s been a few months since we’ve updated and certainly a lot has happened. When we last updated we were in the midst of training the first class of women that Stitching Sparrow would hire. The women were extraordinary. They were excited about the opportunity to work; it wasn’t just about the income but the sense of identity and dignity in being able to contribute something beautiful to the world.

However during that month, we realized that there are some very critical missing pieces in the operations. When we began all our planning, we had one solid premise – the sewing center needs to be a for-profit business. It’s not so much about making tons of money – it never has. It’s about running the sewing center with the heart and hustle to produce on-time, on-budget and at a remarkable level of quality. 

This is critical for two reasons. First, quality, cost and reliability are of utmost importance when producing a product for the western market. The second reason, being just as important, is that when we value the product, we value the women who make it. Pursuing excellence in production means we believe they are capable and recognize the work they put into it. This is why we were very adamant about running the sewing center as a business.

However as the training came to an end, we realized our partners would not (at the present time) be able to run the sewing center the way we heartily believed it needed to be run. It was a mixture of not being able to commit the kind of time/resources we expected and the conflicting mentality of wanting to run a business like a non-profit. I want to say here that our partners, who we love as family, are people of utmost integrity. We are always encouraged by their sacrificial and servant’s heart and have learned an enormous amount from them. 

Unfortunately in the end, we needed to pull out of working with Stitching Sparrow. It’s heartbreaking for both for us. There is a lot of potential. But it’s critical that we be on the same page as to how the sewing center would be run. We may consider working together again and will likely revisit the idea in the future. For now however it is better we part ways. 

Fortunately, the old motto as one door closes another opens is very true. We were extremely fortunate to connect with other established sewing centers in other parts of India and we are presently seeing whether we can have them make our blankies. They’ve already produced export quality product and are committed to working with poor and marginalized communities. We’re excited about the opportunities to partner and shooting to have a new product line in the fall. We’re in heavy design mode right now and look forward to having something out to you as soon as possible!

As we reflect on the past few months, we’ve grieved not seeing our plans with Stitching Sparrow come to fruition. But we’ve also learned a ton and will be better people for it. Without waver, we’re still committed to two things: making beautiful products and empowering under-resourced people. We’re excited about the future of Ellie Fun Day and look out for new and exciting things in the coming year! 

2 Comments

Feb

21

Week 1 of Training Done!

It’s pretty amazing to see where we’ve come in just one week. We know that it takes time to develop new habits and proper procedures in order to run a sewing center. This week we wanted to gauge their knowledge and their abilities. We are trying some really different techniques that most Indians don’t  teach. First is the “WHY”. In typical Indian culture, schools rely on repetition and rote memory. Children are not encouraged to ask why. If they do, teachers see it as a form of disobedience. With our partnership with Stitching Sparrow, we want to teach “why” so that the things that our women learn are internalized and they will hopefully be more motivated to do it the correct way. One of the very first activities we had them do was to observe their surroundings for inspiration of shapes. This is a new concept for many Indians to be inspired and think differently. It was really fun to see them walking around and finding inspiration.

This is what we do on a daily basis:

  • Pray and read a passage from the Bible
  • Take Attendance
  • Take out Tools
  • Clean and Oil Machines
  • Practice Yesterday’s Lesson
  • Instruction
  • Tea Time
  • Design Lessons
  • Lunch
  • Embroidery Lessons
  • Clean Up

We also had the women draft up their policies and procedures. In the end we want this sewing center to be theirs. Not what something a foreigner built and made them do, but a partnership where we empower them according to their skills and talents.

Cleanliness seems to be relative here in India. Our hope is to set an example of cleanliness so that we can help them improve their own family’s health and also eventually pass inspections for the certifications that we will need. I take for granted our standards of clean in the West. The idea of cleaning a bathroom in India is to take some water and pour it all over the toilet and splash it on the walls. That’s how most cleaning is done in India. As the women saw how I took a brush to the tiled walls and scrubbed them, they were astounded by how “new” everything started to look. After 1 hour and three of us scrubbing down our bathroom, it was near sparkling clean. They got the picture.

At the end of class we also asked the women what their hopes and prayer requests were. A couple of them needed a new house because their roofs were leaking. Some have debt that needs to be paid due to emergency health related bills. Many also had sick children or husbands since the weather has changed. Our hope is that our women will be able to learn how to manage their financial needs and use their form of employment as a means to help their families out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Feb

13

Training Kicks-off!

Monday marked the first full day of our training. Last Friday was more of an orientation to see where the women were in their skills, and  to establish some grounds rules. We also didn’t get a whole lot done because the machines were not in proper working order and we still needed to get power to them in our space.

As things go 4 out of the 8 only showed up on Friday. According to some strange Indian/Hindu culture people don’t like to start things on a Friday. One of the 4 women that was missing was ill so we decided to visit her on Sunday. Apparently she was having a allergic reaction in her feet so she couldn’t walk. We visited her home and prayed for her healing. Calvina had an opportunity to photograph her cooking a meal for her family.

By Dalit standards, her home was typical. It was a building made out of asbestos sheeting with two rooms. One for the family to sleep and one for her to cook. Her stove consisted of 4 bricks that she lay on top of a concret top and a place to add kindling. Her sons brought in long-logs that served as fuel for the fire. These sticks protruded out of the fire. A hole at the top of her kitchen served as mere ventilation to the smoke.

There was no cutting board. Just her knife and her hands to cut up the vegetables that went into her curry. Her boys ran to the nearby well to fetch her some water to wash the vegetables. She then added curry powder, garam masala, turmeric and other spices to the mix and let it simmer.

To her this is normal and a way of life. She seems happy even though she is the sole provider of her family. Her husband needs constant medical attention due to a brain illness. Our hope is to employ her so that she can feed her families and give her boys a way to go to school.

1 Comments

Feb

11

Divine Coincidences Happen in the Strangest of Places

One tough part of this week in Kolkata was that ALL of us were sick. Cold, coughs, clogged sinuses. It was a symphony of sniffles. We needed to find some local meds because ours weren’t the doing the job. Sarah and Cal were sucking down Halls and Ricolas and it just wasn’t settling the coughing fits. We ended up finding this local-brand industrial strength lozenge and it was the only solution to the dingy, soupy Kolkata air. We asked a local doctor about it and he said, “When in Rome.”

One divine coincidence this week was meeting a woman named Janet Rogers. This past year we had more than a few people mention to us that we needed to meet her. This past September, I randomly met a British guy in San Francisco who after hearing about what we’re doing, emphatically said we needed to meet Janet and immediately returned home to make an email introduction. 

We exchanged a few emails, but couldn’t find a good time to connect. Then out of the blue, she emails us and tells us she will be at Freeset the same time that we are! Amazing! She is an artist/designer who built up an amazing network training women in India how to produce crafts for the international market. She is doing some consulting for Freeset and was more than happy to sit down with us for an afternoon. She downloaded to us loads of wisdom and I know we already avoided a few pitfalls just by talking with her. 

Lastly before we left we spent a bit of time with Kerry Hilton, the founder of Freeset. Every time we talk with him we’re so inspired by his selfless commitment to the business of freedom. Recently they decided to go to the source of sex-trafficking about 5 hours north of Kolkata to start a weaving unit that will employ the women most susceptible to human-trafficking. This makes total sense, though the 5 hour motorcycle ride Kerry takes makes me cringe with all the bad roads and insane drivers.

Sarah and I asked him what keeps him going. He said he never gets tired of seeing freedom… women tasting what it means to go as they please, spend the money they earn and chart their own course for their lives. It energizes him to no end. Kerry, his family and his staff all live in the slum that they serve. They eat, laugh and cry with the people they love. There are few examples of really sacrificial love in our world and they are one of the shining examples. 

Until next time Kolkata… off to Trivandrum.
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Jan

30

The Possible Begins Here : learning to overcome our fears

Smog. Smells. Chaos. Kolkata we meet again.
I began the week sitting down with Justin, an intern from Freeset who has been working with customer service and database management for the past year. I said I want to learn from all the processes that Freeset employs to get bags made and out to customers. Justin said “You want to learn from our processes?” He wasn’t sure they were worth emulating.

Now don’t mistake that response and think Freeset is a chaotic mess. Far from it. But it’s not easy managing almost 200 women in a four-story dilapidated complex full of small-bedroom sized production areas. They’ve been making it work for almost 13 years. Cutting is on the bottom floor. Printing is on a covered section of the roof. Sewing is in three small rooms on the second floor. And the bags are finished on a terrace on the third floor. It’s not necessarily a well oiled machine. It’s more like a creaky sewing machine with a ton of different mis-matched attachments. But it definitely gets the job done.

As a bit of a perfectionist, my goal was to come in and learn about the production process and go and develop a streamlined, gloriously efficient version of our own. I wanted to learn from the black-belts, my administrative sensei’s. But as I sat down with Ahgni the customer service manager, walked the floor with John the general manager and poured over QA files with Deb the production manager, they all shared about the same thing. They’re doing a few things right and there are a ton of things they want to fix.
There was more than a bit of frustration in all of them. But they love their work and they’re passionate about using their talents to enable more women to experience freedom from the sex-trade. When Kerry started Freeset, he didn’t wait until he had all the details, or until he formulated an air tight plan. He found a way to make it work because freedom is just too urgent of a need to wait until he got it all figured out. 

A lot of us have dreams. Sarah and I do too. And what keeps so many of us from diving headlong into these dreams is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake and maybe plain-old-regular-strength, fear of failure. I don’t want to be the one who drops the ball or misses a crucial detail. I don’t want to be the reason why it didn’t all work! And yet freedom is indeed too urgent of call. Our lives have far too much purpose than to just sit, holed up in our little electronic cave and wait for all the uncertainties to melt away before we venture out. 

All the people we met with gave us tons of wisdom and advice. But in the end they all said about the same thing… learn what you can and then go and do it, and you’ll figure it out as you go. And so we shall.
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Jan

19

Back to India for the Long Haul: The Possibilities are now Beginning

It is with great trepidation, excitement and anticipation that I write this post. I’m dutifully preparing our next stage for Ellie Fun Day. There have been doing many things leading up to this momentus moment. We’ve dialoged, prayed, and researched countless hours to get us to this point in time…and it feels like this is just the beginning.

2012 was a year full of connections and excellent building of our skills as social entrepreneurs. 2013 will be the  year of growth for Ellie Fun Day as we will be hitting the ground running to start training our women in India. This year will determine if all of our hypotheses will work! You my friends have a been a large part in our growing success and now we are asking you to SHARE about our journey. The more people that know about what we do, the more women’s lives will be changed!

This Saturday I will journey with my dear friends Calvina and my husband back to Kolkata for one week to shadow under our friends at Freeset. They’ve been an amazing support to us ( they make our EFD bags!) We are excited to hear new stories of Freedom. Amazing people like Kerry and Annie Hilton have uprooted their lives to make a difference in their corner of their world and they have been an inspiration to us. Then we are off to Kerala where our women are to begin training. I will be living in India for a whole 5 weeks to get this kicked-off and started.

In preparation for our time back in India, Elton and I watched an academy award winning documentary “Born into Brothels”. It’s a courageous story of hope in the middle of the red-light district in Kolkata. Zana Brisk, photographer decided to live amongst the people there and teach the children how to use photography as a way to express their emotions and what they see. She faces many challenges due to their economic and social situation. From getting a passport to convincing one of the children to travel to the Netherlands for a photography exhibition. She’s reminded me that the difficulty of what she had to endure was worth it. A true testament to her work is through the story of one of the children, Avijit, who has now become a film student at NYU. He’s even launched a kickstarter to help fund a film of his.

Just through simple decisions of choosing to make a difference, she’s been able to empower a generation that never possibly had the opportunity to. That’s my calling in life is to use my gifts and talents to be given away in a way that matters. That is how I will determine the success of Ellie Fun Day. I can’t wait to see what this year brings! Continue to follow and share about our journey here!

 

0 Comments

Jan

04

Blanket the World with Love

EllieFunDay’s 1st Annual “Blanket the World with Love”

A friend of ours put $20 in our hand. “You and Elton need to go on a date! Have a good time!” We didn’t have much money, we were saving up for the wedding. And we were so busy, we had hardly any time to see each other. It was a really simple gesture and yet it meant so much. We’ll never forget it.

We’re starting 2013 off by “Blanketing” the World with Love! We know that our world can be a cold, hard place. And yet the simplest gestures done with love and generosity can be life and world changing! Let’s start the new year as agents of change! So many of you have already taken our “Pinky Promise” to be ambassador’s and to “Blanket the World with Love.”

We’d like to ask all of our friends out in the inter web  to join us in “Blanketing the World with Love”. Here are 3 easy ways to do it (and a few suggestions for you)!

“Blanket with a Gift” 

  • donate a blanket to Project Linus
  • pay for someone’s latte behind you
  • gift someone in need a bag of groceries
  • buy a dozen balloons and hand them out to kids in the park

“Blanket with Words”

  • compliment a stranger sincerely
  • write a letter of appreciation to someone that had a meaningful impact in your life
  • send an encouraging email to someone you haven’t talked to in a year
  • tell someone at work/school something they do well
  • write words of encouragement with chalk on your neighbors’ driveways/sidewalk

“Blanket with Fun”

  • invite a friend to have an indoor picnic
  • take a hike, even a short-walk at lunch with a friend
  • Go to a matinee with a friend

We look forward to your stories and pictures so please share them on our Facebook page

We should be blanketing our world with love everyday. But we’re planning ONE day where we’ll all do it together! Mark your calendars – JANUARY 18th! What will you be doing for “Blanket the World with Love” Day? 

 

5 Comments

Nov

29

FREE ADVENT CALENDAR PRINTABLE DIY

Don’t you love the anticipation of Christmas? Advent is a preparatory season leading up to this celebrated day. It has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ’s birth, and for the time when Christ will come again. This advent calendar is a great way to bring meaning into your holiday season in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Many of these activities are great with family and friends. We’ll be uploading some pics/videos of us doing some seriously silly things, so look out for some more inspiration!

Highlights of Activities:

• Decorate gingerbread men to look like members of your family

• Make a snow globe for a place you would love to visit one day.

• Wrap your gifts with recycled goods and found objects.

Go here to download our FREE Advent Calendar here.

SUPPLIES:

• scissors

• glue

• glue gun or strong adhesive

• foam board 19” x 30”

• paper

• 25 — 1.75” mini-wooden clothespins

• fabric to cover board (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1.} Set your printer to “no bleeds” and print all pages (if you don’t have this function, print it at 80% so that text doesn’t get cut off)

2.} CUT on the SOLID lines and FOLD on the DOTTED LINES

3.} Glue the two sides of the cards together

4.} Optional: glue fabric to cover foam board

5.} Hot glue the clothes pins (see diagram) leaving approximately 2.5” between the bottom of the first  clothes pin to the top of the next row and 2.5” between  each clothespin

6.} Pin the cards starting with 2.5’ at the top.

7.} Starting Dec. 1st flip the card labelled ‘1 ’ over and do an activity! Follow each card subsequently.

Enjoy! *EXTRAS*

GIFT TAGS (on the last page) :  Cut out gift tags and punch a hole using 1/16” hole punch. String with twine and tie to a gift.

Also follow TWINKLE on her ADVENTures here on our YouTube channel for some fun!

QUICK CONTEST: Comment with links to your pics of your activities! We will have a little surprise for the BEST photo!

 

 

3 Comments

Nov

14

TOMS Shoes, Where It All Began

On a lunch break about 4 years ago I walked through a Nordstroms and saw a pair of funny looking shoes that reminded me of espadrilles and decided to pick it up and assess it’s value. Low and behold, it said on the hangtag “One for one” for every shoe purchased a child in need receives a shoe. I thought to myself, now how cool is THAT! A product that does good!

So I proceeded to email the founder Blake Mycoskie and ask him for advice on how should one start a social enterprise. I had the early inklings of starting something, but just didn’t know quite where to begin. I was entirely floored to receive an email back from him. Here is a copy of his letter back to me.

Now fast forward 4 years later, I’m standing at TOMS Shoes headquarters ready to meet their head of giving supply chain manager, Mayura, whom I met at the SOCAP conference last month. Mayura so graciously invited us to visit the newly built headquarters just south of Venice Beach. They truly retained the cool “startup” feel by making the cubicles out of plywood , ping pong tables and having slides throughout the building for fast access. (hmm, I think we need one for our offices too).

What I found truly inspiring was just hearing her talk about a company that truly believes in the cause and her feeling like what she does actually does matter. She explained to me that each NGO that TOMS works with on ground for their shoe drops are heavily vetted to make sure that they are there to help the people in need. For some reason people have the impression that they just drop shoes off randomly and then take off feeling like they’re the heroes. TOMS has faced some heavy scrutiny on all accounts.

To be honest with you, some people might say, but they’re just shoes. Why aren’t you taking care of the orphans? Why aren’t you addressing the issue of AIDS? Why don’t you give water? etc. etc. Well, here’s one piece of information that might change your mind about “just” shoes. Children in Honduras need to wear shoes in order to go to school. No shoes = no education. I think that goes without saying, that’s worth it no?

As EllieFunDay continues to do our groundwork in India, I’ve learned a ton from TOMS. I had the chance to review Blake’s book “Start Something that Matters” and I’ve applied many of their principles to help us get started. Starting with this first piece of advice from Blake,

“I have started six businesses now and experienced naysayers for each and every one. Being an entrepreneur (or any type of creator) takes courage. You have to be willing to stand up for your own ideas and be willing to see them fail.”

Gosh, FAILURE? so many of us run from just the IDEA of failure. So many of us stop short of even trying because we’re afraid of failing. But here’s my question back, “What if you didn’t try? What if you decided to take the safe route? What if you lost money? What if you lost your job? Can’t we all earn money again somehow? Can’t we all find another job that will somehow support us?”

My two cents in all of this is, I NEED to do this because the POSSIBILITY of it working and making a difference far outweighs the loss. If EllieFunDay doesn’t work, I’ve lost some of my life-savings (so what?) but I’ve gained a world of knowledge, connections but more importantly a wealth of relationships that far outweigh the loss. In this year, I’ve already seen my own faith and skills grow in ways that I’ve never expected. If EllieFunDay DOES work, that means that LIVES are changed, cultural systems are overthrown, dignity is given, hope is achieved and a generation of Dalits will get to see what it means to be empowered. Now isn’t THAT worth the risk?

What’s would you risk that’s worth it for you?

3 Comments

Oct

11

Entrepreneurs unite in meaning : SOCAP Connects the Dots

We were given a spot as one of the 30 entrepreneurs selected out of 300 for The SOCAP12 scholarship! (Check out our profile!) SOCAP’s whole purpose is to bring meaning to the marketplace.

We didn’t quite understand the impact this was until we started digging in deeper with all the rest of the fellows. Many of them are extremely talented and came out of the Ivy League B schools. Intimidated? Just a bit. But I was so aptly reminded that I also did not go to the top design school yet somehow through divine circumstances I ended up in some of the best design firms working with Fortune 500 companies. I am now a freshman again in a new space.

We started our week by showing off our blankets at Google’s Entrepreneurs Week. It was fun to hear how Google is making tools for entrepreneurs. Google-ites are proud of their campus and products. Throughout our workshops there was one prevailing question that we kept on challenging. “What does true impact mean?”

Typically in the tech start-up world it’s about a fast ramp up to buy-out. One entrepreneur challenged that notion because our bottom-line isn’t necessarily for the hottest VC to pay millions of dollars to acquire our companies. Many of us social entrepreneurs are doing what we’re trying to do because we believe in a triple bottom line. That means that social responsibility is at the core of why we do what we do.

I realize that this is a new dynamic in our world today. Most people measure success by how profitable you are as a company, but one must see that profit is just a means of validating you as a company. Profit doesn’t say how you are being responsible as a company. So many companies have decided to only measure their success through profit, which is a dangerous and slippery slope when you start thinking about how they got that profit in the first place.

How do we as consumers start challenging that notion? Does a company exploit factory workers in order to bring you the cheapest goods? Where did the raw materials come from? Were they sustainably harvested? Were harmful pesticides used? There are a lot of questions that we as consumers can ask so that we CAN make a difference.

What are some questions that you would like to ask your favorite companies? Target has been known to “copy” other designers, knock-offs are industry standards. But is that acceptable? Did you know that Coca-Cola was banned from the state of Kerala, India for a time period because it was found that there was a high amount of pesticides? They were also under-scutiny for taking water away from the local farmers. How can we as consumers be the heroes to fight for what is right?

 

 

2 Comments

Sep

28

Ellie Fun Day Visits Full Circle Organic Farm

Over a high-brow NYC lunch, my past client William and I were mulling over some life prodding questions. I posed this question to him “What do you want to do with your life? What sort of legacy do you want to leave?” Apparently that got him thinking. Somehow organic farming was brewing in the back of his mind. This was of special interest to me as we continue our journey of sourcing responsibly and looking for organic goods. I’m not sure if I shared about my own dream about designing organic baby blankets, but somehow our synergies connected.

He got wind that the Santa Clara Unified School District was thinking of leasing part of it’s land. In a vote 5-1 the school board voted to allow an educational organic farm to use the land.

William began volunteering at ground level, clearing the land, digging up old concrete footings. His hope was that this would be a great opportunity for he and his daughter to bond over a meaningful cause and that they did. He is now active on the board of Full Circle Farm, heading up their sales and marketing efforts. The nonprofit is dedicated to the renewal of local, and sustainable food systems for everyone. What inspires me the most about William’s story is that he saw an opportunity and took a risk to invest. He himself was a graphic art director and was laid off during the downturn, but he saw it as an opportunity, a bit of re-birth and renewal for his own life. More recently, they’ve been inspired to work with lower-economic families and help them gain access to healthy fresh grown food through an up and coming program.

I can see how this has become a large part of who he is and how it’s inspired him to continue the full circle of how we grow, get and eat our food.

I’m always amazed to see my food in it’s natural element, unpackaged and coming from the ground. Who knew that kale looks like a mini-palm tree and that ocra had the most gorgeous pale yellow and purple flowers?

FULL CIRCLE FARM

Farm Stand Hours
Wed & Fri: 1:30-7 and Sun: 11-3

Volunteer Hours
Weds & Sat 10am-dark
All ages in Education Garden
Enter at WEST farm gate

Sundays for 16 years+
on the Production Farm from 9-2

Open for Visitors
Monday- Friday 9-5
Saturday 10-dusk WEST GATE ONLY
Sunday 9-3

4 Comments

Sep

18

Letter to my 16 year old self

I was inspired by this post and here to write a letter to my 16 year old self. I encourage you all to do the same! Link us back in our comments! 

Hey you,

Yes, it’s me your older self, 20 years down the road. I saw that you just had your Sweet 16th birthday party. I loved that you designed your own birthday invite by hand out of calligraphy. You know, that’s just a glimpse into what you’ll be doing down the road. You might dabble in the sciences for a little while but remember to keep up the dream of being a designer because one day you’ll come back to it and fall in love.

Your high school mural painting of Van Gogh's Studio

I

t looks like it’s been a difficult year of transition for you. Moving schools when you just made the Lettergirls team and scoring your first straight A’s, I’d be pissed too. I know that sitting with your brother at the lunch table really feels like the end of the world, but don’t worry, soon enough you will find the right group of friends that will love you just as you are. Some of these friends will be there to champion you in many ways and be friends for life. One of them will also be your bridesmaid.

Your high school best friend Corrine. Now her daughters are EFD models!

 

On the topic of boys. Yes, I know that you also feel like you’re the ugly duckling and that all of your guy friends end up liking your best friend, but trust me, there is one in store for you. One that will blow all of these guys out of the water. He will be the exact type of person that you need and he will not just be the love of your life, but he will be everything you’ve dreamed of but better. He will be your champion, your best friend and your soul-mate. I know that you yearn to be loved and adored like all the “popular girls” at school but you are built for a very special purpose. That special purpose will be revealed slowly in time.

Oh and that prom thing, don’t sweat it, Sr. Prom is overrated even if your date stood you up. Go have a blast with your other friends and spend it on something for yourself. You won’t regret it…oh and that dress you didn’t get to wear? I remade it into something I wear today, and it rocks.

But meanwhile, enjoy being a young person. I know you hate your braces and honking big glasses (trust me, those will be back in.) The eczema will go away and you will look beautiful. Enjoy discovering new things and develop your skills and the things that you truly make you happy. Paint more and revel in the beauty around you.

You ARE beautiful, you ARE loved, you ARE worthy and there is an amazing journey and plan for your life. Just wait and enjoy the ride because you will be doing things and meeting people far beyond your wildest dreams. You DO matter and the experiences that you go through now will make you into a more sensitive and caring person for a greater purpose.

On the subject of popularity. I know that you yearn to be with “those” girls. But the pretty and popular girls may not know what it feels like to be an outcast, but you do and that is what is going to break your heart for a group of people that you will help. That is where you will become a game-changer. All of these gifts and talents in you will be used for that very purpose. Hang on, because the ride is crazy and tough, but know that it will all be for a greater purpose and it will make sense. Trust me, I’m just beginning to see it happen now and it’s exhilarating to know that all of the experiences that you’re going through, now helps me in what I’m doing now.

Yours Truly,

Sarah – 36 years and counting

 

4 Comments

Aug

28

Ellie Fun Day Shin Dig : Part 2 Dry Goods Shoppe

credit: chalk sign hand-drawn by Akiko Ito (our awesome poster and Pinky Promise Badge designer) 

As part of our journey into Ellie Fun Day we are always trying to find ways to fund ourselves to further our purpose. As we travel throughout India we get inspired to bring back good things that we think our friends would love. So as a first time experiment we opened up our very first dry goods shoppe. Everything that was purchased here helps get us back to India to do the work that we need to do.

Wembley bear representing. (I’ve had him since college.)

These handmade wooden combs were sourced through the Kerala State Handicrafts Initiative. They’re beautifully crafted with a smooth matte finish.

Pashmina = ultra luxurious and warm scarves! I fell in love with these once I felt them. On a chilly foggy SF day, they’re so perfect for keeping my neck warm. I think I have a gazillion scarves, but I really NEEDED these.

These Lumberjack and Lumberjill bibs were such a hit! We totally sold out of these. Probably because every hip baby looks too adorable in one of these organic flannel bibs.

India is world reknown for their black teas. This Nilgiri Black tea is from the Nilgiri Mountains that border the state of Kerala. This tea is of the Orange Pekoe species and this batch in particular is of the highest quality due to the unbroken leaf structure. It has a dark and intensely aromatic smell.

I’m so smitten by polka-dots. (Has anyone seen the J.Crew catalog??) These 100% silk scarves are sure to bring your outfits to the next sassy level.

I’m a sucker for Paris…it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. The most magical thing one might see is fireworks over the Eiffel Tower and hence my inspiration for these necklaces! Sparkly pom-poms + tiny bell + silver Eiffel = Fireworks Over Paris. My god-daughters loved them. (note: these were hand-made by me as a “love” project)

My partner in crime, Grace. Again, couldn’t have pulled this off without her! If you are interested in any of these goods, please contact us here and let us know what you want. We’re hoping to get an online shop up soon. go here! Meanwhile check out more pics from our Shindig here.

4 Comments

Aug

23

Ellie Fun Day Summer Shindig Recap : Part 1

Everyone was greeted at basecamp with a slideshow of our India trips. 

Friends had an opportunity to send free mail on us at our EFD Post Office. 

Make your own japadogs!

Do S’more so graciously treated us to their goodies!

Everyone had a chance to vote for their favorite upcoming Ellie Fun Day blankie.

The minis had a chance to make some watercolor bubble art.

 

Big and little kids had the chance to take photos in our teepee. Check out more photos here! 

RECAP {Through the eyes of our intern Karissa, aka Special K}

Everything was set, pristine, and calm as the teepee sat quietly in the courtyard as we awaited to welcome the guests to celebrate Ellie Fun Day’s journey and future endeavors at our Summer Shindig.

And then the children came. It felt as if they all got the batman signal to begin and had run over all at once. Soon there were children with feathers on their heads, aviators on, and bubbles flying all over the place. But no one could deny the japadogs. A sign illustrated how to turn an all american classic into a ‘japadog’ by decorating it with wasabi or sriracha mayonaise, bonito, kimchi and seaweed.

Pure craziness. But underneath the contradicting hotdogs and yummy s’mores was the underlying fact that this was basecamp. Just as the ghost busters got together before attacking the marshmallow man, and the power rangers gathered with that face thing, we rallied our friends in celebration before our next grand venture. The shindig signified a moment in time to recognize our most faithful supporters as friends and co-conspirators. It allowed us to pause and prepare ourselves before we moved out to make a difference.

As I looked around the room I realized, “This is our support system. These are the people that have made this dream a reality.” I was honored to be a part of this dream – to have impact on the world, even if that meant just voting for my favorite blankie, or sending an “I <3 my blankie,” postcard to a friend. The beauty of this shindig was that it recognized the current support system while welcoming new supporters and feedback from others. We invited the shindig go-ers to take the pinky promise, to leave the shindig ready to blanket their world with love.

Will you take the PINKY PROMISE with us? If so, let us know and we will send you a special badge to be part of this movement! 

***** Stay tuned for PART 2 : Ellie Fun Day Dry Goods Shoppe *****

2 Comments

Jul

20

The Possibilities Continue: Kara Weaves and Design*Sponge Connections

Who would’ve known that Design*Sponge would connect two graphic designers across the coasts with similar missions in India. After seeing that Kara Weaves was started by a mother-daughter team passionate about keeping the craft of hand looming alive, I knew I needed to visit them. Chitra, (the daughter based in Boston) and I had a wonderful Skype chat about all the ins and outs of developing a well-designed product while sourcing ethically. She knew my heart as a fellow graphic designer; we want to make a difference in this world with our creative abilities. Their great success is due to Grace Bonney, the blogger of Design*Sponge. After their feature on her blog, things just took off. (Grace, if you’re reading this…we would love to have a feature!) They have been featured in Vogue, Better Homes and Garden and now on Anthropologie’s home goods site, Terrain. It just takes one to be the tipping point.

Chitra’s mother, Indu heads the India side of things. Indu is an anthropologist by nature and was very passionate about keeping the art of the hand loom alive. So much so, she based her phD thesis on it. With the advent of the mechanized power looms and mass manufacturing, this craft is dying. Many of the young people don’t want to take this profession due to the higher paying “office” jobs that the city provides. Sadly, this story was the same when we visited the glass blowers in Murano, Italy. Soon enough, these carefully crafted items will be relics in a museum and our children may not ever know what a handmade product is.

Bringing awareness of these items is something that matters. These handicrafts are a part of our culture and if we don’t try to preserve them then we lose a bit of ourselves in that process.

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Jul

10

The Possibilities Continue : Indian Train travel and visit to a Lingerie Manufacturer

If you google “Indian Train”, you will see pictures of people jam packed like cattle or standing on top of the cars of the train. So far I have YET to see this in my experience, but our Indian counterparts have attested to this. Apparently some people even stand sleeping up in the bathrooms. Our last experience on an Indian train was on an 8 hour overnight AC 3 tier. That meant that there were 6 bunks, 3 on each side of a compartment; top, middle and bottom. I slept on the top and Elton in the middle. The poor guy is 6′ 2 and barely fit. The other bunks were filled with total strangers. One night I think a policeman slept across from me…I felt somewhat safe. Being the paranoid American, I strapped my bag across my body and prayed that I wouldn’t have to knock someone out in the middle of the night while protecting my goods. It was a good memory for the books.

This time around, I think that I knew what to expect for Indian train travel. It was only a 3 hour train ride to Kochin and we had the “luxury” of sitting in the 2nd class AC train. We got to see lush tropical scenery since we rode close to the coastline of the state of Kerala. Rice patties whizzed by, alongside of quick glimpses of fishing villages. It was truly idyllic.

Our purpose in Kochin was to visit Blossom, a lingerie manufacturer for the local market. We were picked up by Shaji, one of the partners of the company. We were immediately welcomed by his warmth. He and his partner Abey, acquired the company 15 years ago and was able to turn it around to a fully profitable company. They now have over 100 different styles and employ over 100 women in their 3 factories.

We were graciously given flowers and had an opportunity to give a few words of encouragement to his workers. His principles and ethics as a successful Indian business man were encouraging to see. Since bribes and corruption are the norm in this country, it’s hard to stay grounded and true. He has been able to operate a successful business based on integrity, love and trust in a world of greed and deceit.

As we connect and network with people, we often like to hear their life stories. Shaji shared with us a miraculous occurrence of how his 3 year old son was in a bad accident where his two fingers were severed. The doctors tried to reattach them but was not successful. He said that there was no blood supply flowing and the fingers were turning black. All he knew to do was to pray. Then miraculously before his eyes he saw the blood come back and turn from black, to white to pink. I met his son Smith, and saw the scars from the accident to prove it. His two fingers are fully functional and he’s a fine and happy boy.

We feel honored to meet Shaji and his Blossom family. Their willingness to share resources and learnings from their experience is invaluable to our next steps.

2 Comments

Jul

06

The Possibilities Continue : Sewing Center Development

It’s been surreal to see the possibilities here in India. The past several days have been filled with meetings and planning to see what we need to get all the right things to make it happen. The largest key factors are the people. We are continually interviewing and waiting for the right trainer, manager to make sure that they have the same vision as our mission. We met with a man that was from the Dalit untouchable community that apparently is skilled in export manufacturing. Our true test of his skills? We had him reproduce the Sharkie blankie from scratch.

We were impressed to say the least. He had no pattern, just our Sharkie blanket. The other indication that he has an eye. The fabric that I gave him was cut in a different direction just to save fabric and he was able to tell. Only a trained eye would know that.

One more indication of the possibility of this happening occurred as I was standing on the road leading up to the entrance to the sewing center. I saw an amazing black, red and yellow swallowtail butterfly . Then I proceeded to see at least 15 or more yellow butterflies fluttering all throughout the road. Then it struck me…this is the beginning of my own personal rebirth.

A couple of weeks back for my final project in my fashion design class, I chose the theme “Chrysalitic Emergence” for my collection. I designed a series of evening dresses that were based on the concept of a caterpillar’s transformation. This was a very personal collection as I feel in this time and place in my life, I’m being transformed into something new and beautiful. But in order for that to happen I needed to purge the ugliness, the self-doubt and insecurities of my past for this to happen.

I am continually amazed by the pieces that are coming together at just the right time for this project. The next two days we are off to meet with Blossom, a women’s undergarment manufacturer and Kara Weaves, a hand loom women’s cooperative.

3 Comments

Jun

26

The Possibilities Continue

The foreign smells that still smack me in the face each time I land in India signified that I was back. Things felt familiar, yet adjusting to the jarring sounds and stares told me I wasn’t in California. After a long 23 hour flight, we settled into our guesthouse and rested up.

Our goal for this trip is to continue our efforts in developing our sewing center that would help empower the untouchable caste women. We met for the past two days with the women to continue assessing their skills and to see what sort of training we needed.

So far they have again exceeded our expectations in their skills and their eagerness to excel.

We had them take apart the sewing machines and clean them. Then we proceeded to test them in more complex sewing skills and embroidery. This time we also tested their eyesight and reading skills. A couple of them were able to understand what they read, a couple of others couldn’t. I realize that improvement in literacy is another side-project that would benefit them.

I was MOST encouraged by this one woman named, Shopa. She is probably one of our more higher skilled women. At the end of our assessment she knew that another lady didn’t have much sewing skills and she told us that she would be happy to teach her what she knew in the meantime. That is true mark of a good leader. I’m encouraged!

2 Comments

Jun

13

How to pack for an Indian monsoon!

image: Homage, Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff

Hello Friends! Yes we are heading back to India on Friday. We’ve been busily preparing for this trip to make sure that we have all the right things in place. There are lots of things involved in our next phase of planning. These are some of our big tasks at hand:

• hire the right managers to oversee the production

• train women in sewing and development

• continue to find good organic sources

• work on export/import logistics

We are hoping that as we meet with the leaders, we will be able to establish a clear path and direction for this venture.

Meanwhile, here’s a little insight into what goes into my luggage. I’m a serious traveller, but I don’t travel entirely light. I’ve managed to find the smallest items possible for the needs that I have. Here’s a pick of all the things that go into my suitcase:

SNACKS: 

a. Trader Joe’s Dried Cranberries b. Pringles (just a great package that’s non-smashable)  e. Haribo gummy cola candy  d. Jack Link’s CHOLULA Beef Jerky (this is for Elton obviously)   e. Luna protein bars  f. Vega Electrolytes  d. Skippy All Natural Peanut Butter

FIGHTING THE ELEMENTS:

a. Black Diamond LED mini lamp for power outages  b. Gold Bond (keeps certain places nice and dry!)  c. Ultrathon Insect Repellant (best in sweat and humidity) d. New Chapter Immunity Booster Lozenges e. Tiger Balm f. Epipen (I’m allergic to EVERYTHING)

FAVORITE TRAVEL AIDS:

a. Mini BabyLiss hairdryer (this acts also as a portable clothes dryer too!)  b. eyemask  c. sleep aid (only used for serious jetlag)  d. wooden hairbrush e. GoToob (best toiletries holder, no leaks!)  f. Evian Moisturizer (for the super dry airplane air) g. earplugs  h. The People’s Republic of Tea

 

TRAVEL TIPS for India: I’ve traveled extensively, but India is in a category of it’s own.

1// Learn to roll with it. India is not about efficiency. Chaos is everywhere, so I’ve learned that allotting time to get to places helps. There are always strikes, power outages and elephants roaming (well I haven’t seen any yet) that might delay you to your destination.

2// You will get used to the smell. Mainly because you will smell like everything else. :) I think that I’m blessed to also be in Kerala. It’s a beautiful state full of coconut trees and the air seems to be cleaner.

3// Travel with a local. It just helps to know the area and the culture. They will be your best guide to bargaining and getting around.

4.// Give yourself time to adjust. It is a culture shock. Even traveling there after a couple of times, I need to give myself a couple of days to acclimate and get used to the weather, the sounds, and the smells.

5// Visit something out of the ordinary. Last time we visited an organic ayurveda farm and it was such a joy to learn about the beauty of plants and their healing properties. I’m hoping to explore more about this type of cotton and farming!

Look out for the next post to be in India!

What are your favorite travel tips? Where are you headed off to this summer?

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Jun

09

“Cacao! Cacao!” A Visit to Theo Chocolate Factory

Did somebody say “chocolate”? My pulse immediately started racing…pangs of desire formulated in my mouth…”must…..get…some…now.”

So it was a natural progression of mine when I heard that the first fair-trade and organic chocolate factory was just right around the corner from where we were staying in Seattle. We followed our noses to this historic brick building that housed Theo Chocolate. Rich cocoa smells lead our way to the entrance. We were met by fun and overly-exuberant Theo-ites ready to take us on a a tour of their oompa-loompa factory. We spent a good amount of time just learning about HOW chocolate was made. (I think that I took for granted the process of how this food of the gods made it to my own mouth… I never gave much forethought to the craft behind it, maybe because I was just too busy having a food-gasm)

Handi-dandi infographic via Ile de Chocolat on HOW chocolate is actually made. It’s amazing, the process and flavor is a lot like coffee beans and wine. There is some roasting and fermentation involved.

Hand mixing flavors into the chocolate. (I think that orange was going into this one)

Top Learnings

• Look for percentage of cocoa on the labels. chocolate candy can be called chocolate with as little as 10% of cocoa…the rest is well…NOT chocolate.

• Fair-trade and organic does matter. Fair trade chocolate only accounts for less than 1% of the chocolate market…imagine how the rest of it is sourced.

• Montezuma, the Aztec king that founded drinking chocolate apparently drank 40-50 cups a day!

• Apparently, the higher the cocoa content, the more chocolate becomes a health food. So eat DARK!

So there you have it, a bit of the mystery de-mystified. I have always been enamored by candy as a child and chocolate has been part of my daily diet. (that’s how I keep my girlish figure…shhh.)  I leave you with one of my favorite all time songs from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.

What’s YOUR favorite flavor or type of chocolate?? Do you like it dark? milk? With nuts?

2 Comments

May

22

How to be an Entrepreneur with Multiple Personalities

I write often about the challenges of being an entrepreneur. What I don’t talk much about is all the different things that I do on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I think that I have multiple personalities due to all the different things that I have to do.

CLOWN : yes, I often times make a fool out of myself just learning new things. I’m learning from making lots of mistakes, but recovering quickly. Most recently on our first run of blankies there was a slight mistake in one of our patterns which in turn meant that we needed to recut them. Good thing we had extra fabric! I know I won’t be making that mistake again.

GENIUS : not!…but I’d like to tap into other’s that have blazed that path before me to learn from their smarts. I’ve realized that it’s not the smarts that will get us to where we want, but it’s perseverance and patience. Knowing when to push and when to wait has been some of the hardest learning experiences for us.

NETWORKER : genuine networking comes from genuine friendships. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve met people that I can tell are just talking to me just for their own purposes. On the other hand, everyone that is helping us are really dear friends of ours that believe in what we do. I  have been more than happy to return the favor on many accounts.

SUPPLY CHAIN SPECIALIST / PRODUCTION GRITTINESS : Global sourcing has been an adventure in itself. Finding organic cotton is equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack. Again, networks help in this instance and so does just good ole hard research. I’ve found that just looking for experts in the field have lead to many other resources. I remember actually speaking to a man that was the head of the organic farming institute in America. It was such a joy to just hear his own story and passion behind what he’s doing and he was more than happy to send me along to the right people.

PR / MARKETING / PUBLIC SPEAKER / INSPIRER : I don’t think that we set-out to intentionally be all “PR-like” in our communications. I just want to be honest in our vision and also inspire others to do something that matters. What I hope and aspire to tell is that ordinary people CAN do GREAT things, it’s all about just trying.

DREAMER/CREATIVE: as much as I am a creative, I honestly get to “design” about 10% of the time. Running a business does require a different type of creativity that I’m learning. For example, how do I use just the resources that I have to achieve the results needed. When resources are limited, that’s when people start getting creative. Dreaming helps me keep my passion alive. There are days where I have to remember what the dream is or else I start to lose myself in the details.

How have you survived in your business? What are some of your different personalities that you’ve had to take on?

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

May

04

A Cloud Party

Yes, sometimes at Ellie Fun Day we like to throw parties for special friends. My dear friend Traci at 45 Wall Design was celebrating a special birthday, so her husband Herman decided to enlist me and her cousin-in-law, Rachel to come up with something fabulous for her. We were brainstorming ways to bless Traci and their new Eichler and came up with the idea of showering her with blessings.

We enlisted all of her friends to write a phrase of blessing for her and the new house. I printed them onto raindrops that hung from the linen cloud mobile that I sewed. The light was just perfect in her atrium.

As I’m all about recycling and being sustainable I found these GORGEOUS Wasara Plates at Branch in SF. They’re entirely tree free and made out of sugar cane, bamboo and reed pulp. I can’t say how lovely they are to see in person, especially the package that they come in! The shapes that they come in are just so elegant. I also found compostable forks and knives from Birchware via Amazon. I hand stamped Traci’s initial using an inkpad and then wrapped the knife in Japanese Washi Tape.

 

I love flowers so dearly and a party isn’t a party without flowers. Sticking with the theme I used billy balls, peonies, anemones, ranunculus and Star of Bethlehem with a Gemini filler. They turned out lovely!

 

 

These lovely critters I found at Michaels and used a white spray paint to cover them. As for the party hats…I used the same paper from the rain drops and then made a fringe with white tissue paper for the tassels. I think that this was my favorite part of the whole party. It just gave a whole new element to fun and party. The tree stumps (do you recognize them?) our dear friend Al had an old pear tree that he was cutting down and he offered to cut some of these for our pop-up shop.  I thought they were the perfect little element to give variation in height.

For the drinks we served a classic and pink lemonade with fun yellow straws and these lids we purchased via Etsy. I printed out little flags on craft paper that read “We Heart Traci”.

For dessert we decided to go with Traci’s favorites. We were a little sneaky and checked out her Pinterest board and came up with this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp in a jar. They were super easy to make.

Kara’s cupcakes with Cloud Toppers and raindrop fondant.

Traci’s favorite kettlecorn in cones and finished with washi tape. I bought a foam board from Michaels and wrapped it with tissue. To get the cones to stand up, I used floral wire inserted into the board then I slid the cones through the bottom and filled the cones with the kettlecorn.

The pièce de résistance were these cloud macarons that my friend Lisa made! They were the most adorable things I’ve ever seen! Yes, she is for hire! We found instructions here.

Thank you Herman for these lovely photos and allowing us to bless Traci in this way!

1 Comments

Apr

25

Start Something that Matters Winner!

And we have a winner for our “Start Something that Matters” contest!

Gabi B said.

“I would like to rent out a room in a convention centre, church, etc.. and give a presentation about the north Koreans and there struggles and also tell people how they can help and get involved. I want to start a non profit org. to help the NK orphans and mothers and I think that if I just started going to different places and speaking it would bring me that much closer to my goal and hopefully encourage others to help. I would use the money to help pay for the auditorium or centre fee.”

This topic is near and dear to us. We ourselves have struggled with having children of our own and have a large heart for adoption. We have so many friends with awesome stories here and here. These pics are just a snippet of the joy that these children have brought to so many of us!

Choi Boi 

Lil E

1 Comments

Apr

24

Ellie Fun Day Pop Up Shop @ Slave Next Door Event

This past Friday we had a chance to set up a pop-up shop at The Slave Next Door event hosted by Project Peace. This event specifically highlighted the issue of modern day slavery  in our own backyard. We were really floored when we heard the story of Minh Danh. She was sold for sex by her own parents right here in San Jose, California. We first heard about Minh’s story on Dateline NBC, but to hear her speak, opened our eyes wider. She was eloquent and dynamic, and spoke not as a victim, but an advocate. The speaker that came up after her, Kevin Bales, of Free the Slaves,  said that it was equivalent to meeting Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass, slaves that freed other slaves. It was a historic moment for us all to witness.

One large takeaway from Dr. Bales was that human slavery goes hand-in hand with ecocide. People that exploit people also exploit the land alongside of them. His solution to this massive problem was to stop our need for excessive consumption. He said that if everyone were to consume the way U.S. citizens consume it would take up 5 earths. Seriously eye opening.

The other component of the event was a fair-trade bazaar that featured many different organizations that sourced fair-trade products from around the world. We were happy to be across the way from our friend, Fay Johnson at Slavery Footprint. They have an amazing site that helps you calculate how many slaves work for you according to the items that you own. I soberly calculated 51 with all of my goods. I highly encourage everyone to take this survey as it’s an amazing and beautiful site, but also helps us to personally take action in our corner of the world.

 

 

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Apr

10

What to do with $50 “Start Something that Matters”

10 EASY Ideas to “Start Something that Matters

1.) Buy books for your local preschool in need

2.) Purchase toys for a local women’s shelter

3.) Do a carwash to fundraise for your own “Start Something that Matters” project

4.) Start a one-for-one donation for the local Boys and Girls club. For every ball donated, you will match it

5.) Find a children’s hospital that allows you to visit and give away balloons to kids that are on the mend

6.) Buy a $50 grocery card for a friend who is having a hard time making ends meet

7.) Start a garden and give the extras to a local soup kitchen

8.) Treat the homeless person that you see regularly to a nice dinner

9.) Volunteer at a pet-shelter and donate some treats for the animals

10.) Organize a beach clean-up day and treat all volunteers to a picnic

See it’s THAT easy to “Start Something that Matters”! So go and enter by 8pm PST today!

 

 

 

 

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Apr

03

Giveaway! TOMS “Start Something that Matters” Book + $50 to start something that matters

So I was graciously given 2 copies of “Start Something That Matters” written by Blake Mycoskie of TOMS shoes. One to review and one to GIVE AWAY! For all of you that don’t know who Blake Mycoskie is, he is the founder of TOMS shoes. For every shoe you purchase TOMS gives one away to a child in need. They now have branched out to glasses and books. I’ve truly come to look at Blake as a forerunner in social entrepreneurship. (I’ve even emailed him for advice about Ellie Fun Day and he’s responded!) Thanks BLAKE!

Let me tell you a little about how Ellie Fun Day has started using some of Blake’s pearls of wisdom to “Start Something that Matters”.

ONE > FIND YOUR STORY

Everyone loves a good story. I’m so visual I often only remember something told in the format of a story. I’m so not a numbers or facts kind of gal, but if you tell it in the form of a story, I will remember it! The story of how Ellie Fun Day started was simple. I loved my baby blanket as a child, and I’ve always dreamed of creating something that mattered. Something that would empower a group of people. We’ve come a long way since then!

TWO > FACE YOUR FEARS

I’ve learned that fear was initially there to protect us. It was our “fight-or-flight” mechanism. You run from a saber-toothed tiger because he will come and make you his dinner. We no longer face those types of fears, but often times that type of fear follows us into starting a business. But I’ve come to learn that what you fear will not kill you. I often fear failure. I’m a perfectionist. I fear that Ellie Fun Day will not succeed, I fear that I will disappoint the women that we’re working with, and I fear I’ll lose everything and live in a shoebox for the rest of my life. These things are not entirely in my control. I can only do my best with the resources that I’ve been given. And in the end I can say, I’ve learned and grown so much from this journey.

THREE > BE RESOURCEFUL WITHOUT RESOURCES

As a startup we can wait around till some big VC decides pour in money so we can hire a ton of experts to get us going. That is entirely not the reality. I’ve learned that as an entrepreneur I’ve got to learn to do everything myself and I need to go and find the answers. Do you want to know what my secret resource has been? This resource has given me legal advice, told me how to fix my website, where to buy organic textiles, how to set up a sewing center, what are the best ways to structure a social enterprise…ALL FOR FREE! And do YOU know you have access to this as well? It’s called GOOGLE. (large props to Sergey and Larry!) If you don’t know…Google it…someone out there likely has the answer. We’ve also developed an awesome network of friends that believe in our cause and we couldn’t have gotten to this place without them.

FOUR > KEEP IT SIMPLE

I’ve learned from my past life as a graphic designer that simplicity is the key to success. Some of the best designs are simple. Nike logo anyone? So many people have asked us, are you going to make adult sized blankets? bibs? clothes. I would love to say “Yes” to all the above, but we need to keep it simple at the start. Baby blankets are my passion and I’d like to put forth a good product built on reliability and good design. I can’t spread myself too thin trying to do all the other things. Eventually we would love to go beyond baby blankets, but at this point we are about baby blankets and saving lives.

FIVE> BUILT TRUST

Part of building trust is being transparent and admitting mistakes. Who likes being wrong? I sure don’t. But I’ve learned from many mistakes already and it’s made me more aware of the areas that I need improvement on. We’re taking ALL the feedback from our blankies and improving on it. We’re not perfect, we’re learning as we go, but we value you as our friends to help us along the way by telling us ways we can be better.

SIX > GIVING IS GOOD BUSINESS

People love our blankets partially for the design, but when they hear our cause, they’re JAZZED! I have had high schoolers come up to me and say “I want to be you.” I’m utterly grateful, but what I’m encouraged that THEY realize they can also do something that matters and that I’m just an example of an everyday person with a dream that decided to go for it. Being in the “giving” business has been advantageous for us as well. EmersonFry‘s awesome partnership for our mommie and me giveaway is an example of how they saw that we were more than just a baby blanket company and decided to sponsor our giveaway.

OVERALL RATING: 4/5 stars. This is a great feel good book to get you going on starting your own business. If you’re needing a motivational speech, Blake does it well and simple. This is not necessarily a mechanics book for entrepreneurs. There are plenty of those out there. This is just a one man’s journey and how he made it possible through lots of hard work and help.

HOW TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY:

WINNER GETS “Start Something that Matters” Book and $50 to Start / DO something that matters AND be a guest blogger on what you’ve done.

** RULES**

$50 cannot just be given to a charity, it must be used to START/DO something no matter how big or small. Even baking cookies for your lonely neighbor is doing something!! We will feature your story on our blog after you’ve used your $50!

How to Enter:

{ COMMENT TO WIN }
leave a comment about what you would do with $50 to start/do something that matters
{ BLOG }
Blog about what you would do with $50 to start/do something that matters, and ping back with our link here on the comments section
{FACEBOOK FAN}
share on facebook about what you would do “Start Something that Matters”, don’t forget to tag us and leave a comment below
{TWITTER FOLLOWER}
share on twitter about what you would do with $50 to start/do something that matters.
{SPREAD THE WORD}
twitter, facebook, or blog about this giveaway for one last entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!
Giveaway ends on Tuesday, April 10th at 8pm, PST.
Please check back next week to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

 

7 Comments

Mar

13

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 11 // The India Team

I’ve blogged about my own personal stories and interactions with others but I haven’t talked about the people that I brought with me. They all served a very important role in this whole possibilities project. We started this trip as friends and came out as soul mates.

NATE CHAN: This was one of Nate’s first forays into the depths of a foreign country and he’s always had a heart to tell stories visually through film. When I first asked Nate to join us on this trip it wasn’t a hard sell, he was quick to say, “Sure! Why not, I have the time and this seems like a good experience for me.” This pretty much sums up his own life, simplicity. He lives with the mindset that if I wanted to move to another country in a heart beat, I can just pack up my one suitcase and go. (This guy is currently at SXSW shooting some famous rockstars with Yours Truly)

Nate loves:

tote bags: everywhere we went, he kept on saying, oh I love this bag. He also lives in the Mission and everyone in the Mission carries tote bags.

• kids: wherever we went he’d always have an eye for the kids and tell us what he saw through their lens. After one of our dinners we had a ton of leftovers and we decided to bring it back for someone that was homeless. Nate prayed and asked God for the right person to give the goods too and his heart went to the kids that lived down the street from us. He was utterly touched by how joyful they were by such a simple gift of our leftovers. I think that experience has left an indelible mark on Nate.

• well-made goods: we talked endlessly about all these Indie made products that had a cult following and how everything Nate buys something, in a couple of months, it ends up in Urban Outfitters

• Chinese-Indian food: Nate and I seem to have the same taste in food. We always ended up ordering the same dish! He was most concerned about the level of spiciness but he was the most adventurous of us all!

• lipbalm: I don’t know how many times we went searching for lipbalm for Nate on this trip. Everywhere we went, there was no lipbalm and poor Nate kept on asking for it. We even offered some of our own lipstick for his use.

• wandering: yes, in a large city like Kolkata, we were always asking the question “Where’s Nate?”

CALVINA NGUYEN: I don’t have to say much for her talent because her photos speak for themselves. She’s really caught the whole essence of our trip and I get compliments all the time from her amazing ability to document our whole process. I am so utterly indebted to her not just as a photographer, but as a friend. She’s championed our cause and been such a cheerleader for us during this whole process. She’s talked me through tears of struggle and has been excited with me throughout this whole journey. I love this lady.

Calvina loves:

• mango lassi : we were extremely cautious wherever we went to eat or drink. Every meal, Cal wanted to try a mango lassi, we warned her about “milk products” and anything that involved ice. She was good and decided to wait until we got home to try one!  She decided NOT to heed our caution and ventured to try one. Ask her if she experienced Delhi Belly after that one.

• tea: did I tell you we spent close to an hour in a supermarket looking for the right milk tea? Cal needed to know every single detail about this tea..”was it organic? is it loose? is it roasted? is it..?”

• making her own EVERYTHING: I’ve learned from this gal that she uses apple cider vinegar to wash her hair, she makes her own deodorant and that she can turns dirt into wine … well, I kid about the last one.

• wandering: her and Nate wander together…we worried a bit for them especially in Kolkata. We teased that if we left them at any spot, they’d be clueless. But her wandering also got us to discover some cool places that we would’ve never thought to go!

ELTON LIN: I don’t have many opportunities to boast about the love of my life. I won’t get too gushy. But having him by my side has made me more confident in what I’m doing and knowing that he’s my partner through this thick and thin makes the world of a difference.

Elton loves:

• chips and ramen: yes, I knew this about him BEFORE the trip, but at every convenience store we stopped at he had to check out the ramen and chips, and since it was in India, everything was curry flavored. We’ve learned to bring our own Shin cups for the next trip.

• toilet paper: I don’t know how many times we’ve run out of toilet paper and he’s had to go and replenish it.

• bottled water: the first day we were there we were desperately searching for bottle water. We walked high and low for a supermarket and FINALLY Elton found one after an hour. Upon our arrival back to our room, we asked the front desk where he purchased water and he pointed to a small store across the street. Hilarity.

• dogs that look like Pumpkin: my brother-in-law has a dog named Pumpkin that looks alot like the dogs in India. Every time we saw a dog like Pumpkin, Elton wanted to either pet it or feed it. Upon my stern warning of getting rabies, he conceded to not pet them. Yes, the strict wife I am.

• his wife (ok I had to slot this one in..but it’s a good story): one of the days during training I was feeling rather light-headed and tired. It was probably a culmination of travel and little sleep. As I was getting up to stand I grabbed his arm to steady myself and he helped me gain my balance to walk outside for some fresh air. He also sat with me and brought me some water. It was such a simple act, but what was even more interesting was that the ladies that we were training were in awe. They noticed that my husband took care of me. They said that no husband they’ve seen here in India does that for their wife. The wife ALWAYS serves the husband no matter what. I feel blessed to have him.

We set out on this journey with the question, “Is this dream even possible?” So far all arrows have been pointing us in the direction of “Yes”. Just seeing the success of our friends has given me hope that we CAN do something worthwhile, we CAN change the system and we CAN do it together. Thank you friends for supporting us! This is just the beginning of so many more possibilites to come.

 

 

 

5 Comments

Mar

06

Ellie Fun Day Packing Day!

This was another monumental stepping stone for us! We finally packed and shipped all of our blankets, totes and posters off to their new owners. Having a large community of friends and family come and help us was a huge help indeed. We packed and shipped out over 150 packages!

 Our hangtags were letterpressed by our friends over at Wonderflower Press. We hope to have a mini-short of the process of that soon! Thanks Matt and Alison!

Hand-stamped “special delivery” on each box!

The hang-tags were all hand-punched by two of our burly guy friends, Sergio and Leo…we broke two of these punches in the process!

I owe alot to this babe, Grace of Red Jasmine Weddings, and mama of my two cutie pie god-daughters. I’ve known this girl since college…(she got me through genetics!) and she’s the left brain to my right. At 3 am the night before we were duking it out as to how to print postage…she was striving for functionality, I was striving for aesthetics. Guess who won? She managed to pull off our shipping and merge our crazy Excel docs into something automated. It’s a masterpiece in itself.

I am greatly indebted and honored to all of our friends that made it out to help us on this big day! Thank you Ellie Fun Day packing team!

photos courtesy of Sergio Brizuela

 

2 Comments

Jan

17

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 10 // Beginnings

Today was a culmination of a lot of experiences for me. This day seemed to mark the beginning of something. I met our first five potential women that could be sewing our baby blankets. We prepared an initial intake interview to get a sense of their current situation and I had a simple sewing sample for them to complete to assess their skill levels.

I greeted each and every individual women by shaking their hands and learned their names…Rani, Rachel, Latika, Beena, and Philomina. Most of these women were my age or younger, but looked 10 times their years. They have never been employed in their lives and their husbands are either day laborers or do menial side jobs. Many of them survive on 500 rupees a week = $10. One of them is HIV+. They struggle with making ends meet and very few of them have savings. But despite their condition I was met with beams of joy.

I came in with low expectations of their skills and was surprised by what they already knew. Freeset faces issues of literacy and even fine motor skills. These women could count, measure and follow instructions that I gave them even with my own limited communication, they understood what they needed to do. After completing their sewing task, I asked them to do their own self-evaluation and compare their sewing sample with mine. Part of my own teaching of empowerment is not to just tell somewhat what to do, but to help them see for themselves what needs to happen. This becomes much more internally realized and acts as a better motivator than someone telling them what to do. Most of the women were able to point out their own areas of improvement and I also had the other women give them critique of their work. One woman even helped Nate fix his torn eyeglass case.
In the end, I desire to foster an environment of community, not just a place of work. I desire a place where these women can come and be sisters and encourage each other to be champions of excellence in their work. I also desire for them to know that they are all truly valued and precious and not just a “worker”. I pray that as we continue this project that people will see the cause behind our product. Yes, it’s a beautiful blanket, but it has a much deeper story to tell, it’s a story of hope and promise.
3 Comments

Jan

11

Behind the Scenes of the Ellie Fun Day Photoshoot

I always thought that it was fun to see what goes on behind the scenes of a photoshoot. To be honest with you, I’ve been on many photoshoots that I’ve art directed and many times they’re pretty calculated and staged with lots of lights and makeup.

For Ellie Fun Day due to time and resources we had to be more creative with what we had. First off, booking a studio would cost us hundreds of dollars and lots of other not so fun paper work. After some discussion with my in-resident photographer Calvina, we thought that my loft would be the best place since we had tons of natural light and the right flooring.

After some “minor” furniture rearranging we managed to get our set-up where we had a nice clean wall and floor for our main shoot. (notice how Nate, our videographer, used my stool and clothespins to hold up the blankets!)

For the bedroom shoot I cleaned out my guest room and kept the palette nice and clean with bright whites and a fluffy bed. This is where you see our teaser with the adorable Isaiah.

Wardrobing kids is always fun. I wanted to keep the feel simple and make sure that the kids and the blankets stood out so I kept them in whites and neutrals. Surprisingly it’s extremely hard to find just simple white tees and bottoms for them.

To keep the kids happy and entertained we had a good sampling of organic pops, Goldfish and juice boxes to keep them happy. Note to self for future shoots, bring out goodies AFTER the shoot to keep them clean. :)

One of the biggest challenges with shooting kids is that you can’t direct them as much as adults so you’re looking to create spontaneous and fun moments for them. It’s really the job of the photographer to capture them at just the right moment and Calvina did a fabulous job.

The two sisters, Audrey (older) and Emily (younger) are daughters of my dear friend Corrine (we go all the way back to 6th grade). They’re hapa-babies as we call them, half Irish and half Chinese. They are both as rambunctious as the photos show and Emily had the total gigglies the entire time. I was scared at first that they would be camera shy, but it was quite the opposite. When we took a break to shoot Isaiah in the bedroom, Emily started to cry because she couldn’t be a part of that shoot!

I can’t wait to do the next Ellie Fun Day shoot, we have some interesting ideas brewing… love to hear some of your thoughts on what you’d like to see next as well!

 

 

0 Comments

Dec

12

And the Winner of our Mommie and Me Giveaway is…

… Drumroll please…

 

We also have a surprise gift for the BEST Favorite Baby Memory!!


Thank you everyone for such an awesome comments. Much thanks to EmersonMade for sponsoring!

We would LOVE it if all of our fans can continue to SPREAD THE WORD about our IndieGogo. Buy a blanket, a tote, an awesome poster...all to help fund a great cause!

 

 

1 Comments

Dec

09

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 9 // Ayurvedic Organic Cotton

One of our core values at Ellie Fun Day is RESPECT for both people and the planet. So we started to do some research and  came upon a really interesting company that hand looms organic cotton and dyes it in Ayurvedic medicinal solutions. Ayurveda has a 5000 year history of treatment of medicinal plants for various ailments. All very similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

We traveled by car to the back country of Trivandrum winding through red dirt paths and zipping by goats grazing on the side. As we arrived into the farm, the owner of the operations walked us through their garden of medicinal plants indicating which plant helped which ailment. He grabbed a handful of purplish green leaves and proceeded to rub it onto Elton’s mosquito bites and told us that this was an Iodine plant. We smelled turmeric roots, garlic leaves, wild basil, bark and many other types of plants that had healing qualities for eczema, hypertension, diabetes and the like.
He also shared with us about how the climate change is really affecting the whole ecosystem around us. As India is developing more and building more, the heavy chemicals and lead are now seeping into the ground and water ways and making it even harder for organic farmers to sustain a good crop. Even within the past years, our Indian friends have said that they’ve seen less rain and have sensed a change in their seasons. This goes all more to show how much we must truly respect our planet by being conscious of the things we buy, consume and dispose of.
2 Comments

Dec

05

ELLIE FUN DAY’S MOMMY AND ME GIVEAWAY CONTEST! EMERSON MADE, CHEWBEADS, DEEP STEEP ORGANICS…


In honor of our return from India and in the spirit of Christmas we are hosting a Mommy and Me Giveaway contest!
(can we get a YAY?)

Here is what we’re giving away!

FOR BABY

#1 One Ellie Fun Day blanket of your choice (Ellie or Sharkie) Retail $95

#2 Chewbeads: some might argue this is for mommy as well! Retail $29.50

FOR MOMMY

#3 Deep Steep Organic Bubble Bath in Lavendar Retail $10.95

#4 EOS Organic Lip Balm in Sweet Mint Retail $3.29

#5 Emerson Made Silver Dollar Indian Tunic  Retail $168.00

How to Enter:

{ COMMENT TO WIN }
leave a comment about your favorite baby memory (yours or your baby’s)
{ BLOG FOLLOWER }
follow our blog by clicking on our RSS Feed to the right, and leave a comment below stating so
{FACEBOOK FAN}
become a facebook fan and leave a comment for an entry!
{TWITTER FOLLOWER}
leave a comment if you’re
twitter follower for an extra entry and give us your handle
{SPREAD THE WORD}
twitterfacebook, or blog about this giveaway for one last entry!
come back & comment with the link! if you twitter, please
tag it with @elliefunday so we can track your tweet!
Giveaway ends on Sunday, December 11th  at 8pm, PST
Please check back next week to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

 

107 Comments

Nov

30

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 8 // Trivandrum : Fresh Air

Trivandrum is like a breath of fresh air. The swaying palm trees and the sprawling beaches reminded me a bit of my own childhood in Hawaii. Keren and Promoth, our partners with Women in Rural Development picked us up at the airport. Their bubbly two year old daughter gave us a big hug!

Our journey continues here as we begin dialoging with Keren and her father Moses Swamidas about developing the sewing center. Their stories are unique. They are Dalits. Dalit means broken or suppressed. The Hindu caste system is made up of four main castes or classes. Dalits are considered so low that they are not even in the caste system. They’re social and spiritual outcasts (and thus “untouchable”). And because of this they’ve suffered alarming discrimination and have not been given equal access to gainful employment and a proper education.

Moses and his family lead an organization that seeks holistic renewal among the Dalits: social, physical and spiritual. They are revolutionaries fighting an uphill battle, advocating for the rights of their own people. Many choose not to hear their pleas, but they continue to fight and have done so for almost 30 years.

Keren has shared with us her own personal journey as a Dalit woman. Dalits are the lowest; but to be a Dalit woman is the lowest of the low. In school she would often avoid telling her classmates that she was a Dalit fearing they wouldn’t befriend her. Many Dalits are also darker skinned and the Indian culture tends to prefer fair skinned people. When it comes to the Indian tradition of arranged marriages, many families shy away from darker skinned people, labeling them undesirable and even calling them ugly.

My hope is that through our work, we would begin changing these perceptions. Providing dignified work and a fair wage will stabilize families writhing in poverty and provide resources for their children to get a proper education. Education then opens doors for the next generation to compete for better jobs and a better living.

 

Education and relief from poverty also closes the door to opportunities for labor and sex trafficking. Families will no longer need to sell their daughters to feed their families. And boys and girls will be able to explore their inborn gifts and talents and understand their inherent value as beautiful children of God. Our hope is that they will NO longer be called undesirable, ugly or untouchable. We’ve seen courageous people in Kolkata redeeming the lives of those who’ve been in the sex-trade. Our plan is to work at the source and stop it from the beginning.

 

3 Comments

Nov

23

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 7 // Farewell to the City of Joy

On our last day in Kolkata, we visited two starkly different places. The first was the Queen Victoria Memorial built to honor the British matriarch during the British occupation of India. It was palatial, made of pure white marble. It’s surrounded by sprawling gardens, palm trees and reflection pools – all fit for queen. Next to the Taj Mahal, the Memorial would be the crowning architectural achievement in India.

Our second visit was to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in central Kolkata. After Mother Teresa passed away she was entombed right in the main worship area. The building is understated but immaculate – definitely not like the surrounding area. Her tomb was simple and white with orange flowers neatly spelling out the phrase: Prayer is longing for God.

There were several other pilgrims paying their homage and a sense of solemnity filled the small room where she lay. As I walked through the humble museum of her belongings, her level of sacrifice is unfathomable to me. She said her final goodbyes to her mother and sister at the age of 18, never to see them again in order to serve the poorest of the poor on the streets of Kolkata.

I’ve heard many stories about Mother Teresa, but nothing really sunk in until I saw the place (and the people) she spent years serving. Walking through the city and seeing a 2 year old begging on the street by motioning with their hand to her mouth and saying “food” makes it all very real. It puts into context Mother Teresa’s act of obedience to God and the sacrifice she made to love the poor.

One quote that struck me was from Mother Teresa’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the west so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed the hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society – that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult.

It’s a little bittersweet to bid farewell to Kolkata. What started as shocking became more understandable. What I’ve seen here and the work that has been done through our courageous friends has left an indelible mark on me. Their commitment and selflessness has really put everything into perspective. I’m reminded that clean water, food to eat, even a place to rest my head on are pure luxuries. I’m thankful for my time in Kolkata and look forward to what lies ahead in Trivandrum.

2 Comments

Nov

22

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 6 // PAVING THE WAY

Today we got a chance to catch up and rest. We filmed another video – but this time on the streets of Kolkata. I didn’t quite anticipate how much attention I’d attract! Storeowners, pedestrians, street people all stopped to see if we were doing a local news report. It was a bit daunting to get that much attention since we already get a fair amount of stares for being foreigners. Overall everyone was friendly and just wanted to talk to us or be on camera.

In the afternoon, we went back to Freeset to spend time with a couple of their operations managers. We’re SO blessed by Freeset; they’ve welcomed us with open arms, treated us like their children and shared all their past mistakes and triumphs. It really can’t be overstated how helpful and loving they’ve been.

We met with Sandro who is a native Brazillian and moved to Kolkata just to work with Freeset as their operations manager. He oversees the whole production of the bags from start to finish. He sat down with us, gave his best advice and let us pick every part of his brain. He shared openly about the joys of working at Freeset and the struggles of living in India.

Sandro also told us that a big challenge is the differing standards of quality. What we think is acceptable quality is different than what the women think is acceptable quality. Some of this is cultural. But in the end, it’s still a significant gulf to cross.

Many of the Freeset women have no education and need to learn fine motor skills in order to achieve the tasks that they are given. Even handling a pair of scissors can be a challenge. Kerry and Annie not only provide a job, but they educate their women and love them like their own. Just recently they had to house a young girl who was beaten by her brother and had no where else to go.

To see where they are today is an enormous encouragement. After 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, they’ve been able to create a sustainable business and produce quality products that are sold all over the world. It’s a story of faith and endurance. Their willingness to sacrifice western comforts and intentionally live among the poor has been an inspiration to us.

As we were leaving, Annie (one of the founders), sneakily slipped a card into my purse and said, “This is for you guys.” Later when I opened it up, it contained a very generous gift and the card read, “Please accept this to help as you start-up your business. May His Freedom Reign, Blessings Kerry & Annie.” I am so humbled by their generosity and it’s something that I will carry with me always. Thank you Freeset for paving the path for us.

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Nov

21

POSSIBILITIES PROJECT // DAY 5 // COTTON MILL VISIT

Today we began the first of several visits to cotton mills. Sourcing is such a critical issue for us. On one end, it’s about finding really high quality materials so we can produce a really amazing blankie. But on the other end, we need to know how the cotton was made and who it was made by. We can’t enable freedom on one end and facilitate oppression on the other.

We were driven by the owner of the company to the outskirts of Kolkata and took a thorough tour of the plant. It’s pretty amazing to see the entire cycle: from processing the raw cotton to weaving the fabric to finishing the product. It gave us a very comprehensive view of the manufacturing process.

As we mulled over different fabric samples we had a really interesting conversation with the owner about the overall work environment in West Bengal. He shared that the communist party has been in power for over 30 years (Indian states are independently governed by different political parties, one of which includes the communist party) and their staunch commitment to socialism has left the state and its people in poor shape. Hard work is rarely rewarded and city development has been severely limited.

The owner also shared about how Bengali’s are very resistant to change and that relationships need to be cultivated over many years before you can make any type of progress. But once you have their trust you have it for life.

Even though we won’t be working in Kolkata, we were reminded that there are larger issues to deal with than just “making a blanket” – we’re here to both empower people and develop communities. Because of this, our road ahead may be a little longer than others. But our hope is to see lives changed and for this we’ll walk the longer, less traveled route.

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Nov

16

Possibilities Project: Day 3 & 4 Sari Bari and Freeset Visits

To say we love the poor doesn’t mean much until we do something about it. And Beth did something about it. Right out of college, Beth from Sari Bari, decided to move into the heart of the red-light district in Kolkata and has given up her twenties to defend the powerless.

She picked us up from the metro station and walked us through weaving alleys, shouting storeowners and bathing children. We noticed that the closer we got to our destination, the brighter the houses got. It was more alluring, yet more dilapidated than other neighborhoods.

There are no signs to Sari Bari. This is for the safety of the women. We proceeded up a dark narrow stairway to arrive on a brightly sun-lit terrance. At the center of a very worn down building, there was the gentle hum of women sewing. These beautiful sarees were being hand sewn, stitch-by-stitch into blankets, bags or scarves.

Beth speaks a few words in English to her operations manager and then gives a loving embrace to one of her girls. She’s both a mother and a manager. A coach and a counselor. Beth supervises, mentors and cares for over 50 former sex-trade workers, helping them find a way out of the trade.

We’ve spent two days with two organizations, Sari Bari and Freeset, hearing about their work providing freedom for women in the sex-trade. Many of these women are kidnapped, lied to or blatantly sold by their husbands or parents into slavery. There are several red-light districts in Kolkata where up to 20,000 men seek out the services of over 10,000 women daily (many of whom are barely teenagers).

What Sari Bari and Freeset do is provide gainful employment as an alternative to the sex-trade. Sari Bari makes bags and blankets out of recycled sarees. Freeset makes jute bags and organic, fair-trade cotton t-shirts (we’re offering their burlap bag as one of our Indiegogo perks!). Both organizations provide health coverage and basic education in reading, writing and math.

It’s been tough learning about how girls (not women) are being exploited. Kerry, the founder of Freeset shared about how they often get destitute women walking in with all the life sucked out of them. However when we observed the women, there were so many contagious and genuine smiles. They worked hard, laughed intermittently and you couldn’t help but feel like you were among family. You knew lives had been changed.

Annie, Kerry’s wife, spoke about a woman who was mute and had been working in the sex-trade for many years. Because of her physical disability and her age, she was barely making 25 cents USD per “transaction.” She came in broken and her saree was filthy. Annie gave her a clean saree, a few full-days wages and brought her into the Freeset family. After three years, she still can’t speak, but she can smile and she’s one of the hardest workers in the group.

This post could go on forever with stories and impressions. But what we saw were people courageously standing up for the poor, restoring broken lives and loving people that others have thrown away. They were willing to move their entire families to the worst neighborhood in Kolkata because of a simple call to follow Jesus and love the poor.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any photos within either Sari Bari or Freeset because many of the women are still at risk from former owners, pimps and lenders. We’ll share more in the next few posts, but both these organizations were amazing inspirations and ridiculously generous with their time and resources. It’s been both supremely humbling and encouraging to be with them and a huge blessing to connect with leaders who have been doing it for more than 10 years.

Thanks for journeying with us… more to come!

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Nov

14

Possibilities Project – Days 1 and 2 > Navigating Kolkata

Oh Kolkata…

After two days of Kolkata, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. The chaos, the poverty, the amount of effort it takes just to get something done. I was reminded that we have a long road ahead filled with many challenges. I had to take a few deep breaths, relax myself, remind myself why we’re doing what we’re doing.

A few glimpses into our day:

We were trying to find bottled water to drink, but not all bottled water comes from a reliable source. Back home, I casually go to the tap or buy a reputably branded bottle from a large retailer. But we had trouble finding a store that even resembled a 7-11. And many of the bottles sold by street vendors seemed like that had already been used and just refilled with tap water. It took us a while, but we found a store and got our water rations for the week.

In our efforts to find the stores, we used addresses off Google and a random map we found at home. As we were roaming the streets looking for the stores, the map we had didn’t seem to have all the streets and the street names didn’t all match up. Later we read in a tour book that there are very few maps for Kolkata because most of the street names have changed [after British rule] and there are just too many little alleys to put on a map.

When we walked back last night, all the streets near our guest house were lined with people sprawled out on the side walk. They weren’t in line buying Harry Potter tickets or protesting the wealthy one percent. They were bathing in the gutter water, sleeping on thin straw mats and for a few, embracing the one whom they could call their own. It was sobering moment for everyone on our team.

Tomorrow we meet with Sari Bari who free women in the sex trade by making handbags and home textiles. We’re so encouraged by the work they’ve been doing and look forward to learning and observing. Companies like this remind us that though the challenge is great, there are courageous people willing to go into hard places to make a difference.

Thanks for following! More to come!

Follow Calvina Photography for more pics.


 

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Nov

08

Ellie Fun Day IndieGogo : buy a blanket (or two) here!

I know that it’s been a long-time coming, but we’ve finally launched our Indiegogo! So what does that mean? IndieGogo is a crowd-funding platform to help fund creative projects like ours that just need a little boost from friends and family. For every contribution there are some awesome things that you will be getting in return! We are trying to raise $15,000 to kickstart our project in India. Here are our goodies!


$5 ///  Ellie’s Friends :

  • shout out on Ellie Fun Day facebook
  • a digital wallpaper download from Ellie Fun Day

$25  ///  Ellie’s Poster Club :

  • a limited edition Ellie Fun Day  poster. This was designed and hand-drawn especially by my good friend Akiko Ito for Ellie Fun Day.

$40 ///  Ellie’s Shopping Club : Ok, this is not just any ole shopping bag. First off, it’s made from jute (which is an eco-friendly fiber) with a water protectant liner. We are collaborating with Freeset Global to bring this bag to you. Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade.

  • a limited edition Ellie Fun Day and Freeset Collab burlap totebag.

$60 ///   Ellie’s Swag :

  • both the limited edition Ellie Fun Day totebag and poster

$96 ///   Ellie’s Blankie:  This is a limited edition run blanket made in the USA. All proceeds from this blanket will help fund our venture in India. The front side is made from an ultra- silky Cotton and Silk. It features adorable little flaps that little ones will love to play with. The backside is 100% ORGANIC COTTON FLEECE that is super snuggly and soft. This is entirely machine washable.

  • premier Ellie Fun Day Blanket (retails for $110). Pick ONE, either the ELLIE or the SHARKIE

$150 ///  Ellie’s Blankie Club :

  • 1 Ellie Fun Day blanket
  • 1 limited edition Ellie Fun Day poster
  • 1 Ellie Fun Day Burlap Totebag

$325 ///   Ellie’s Blankie Swag : This is a great deal if you have many upcoming baby showers! What a great way to have a gift that keeps on giving

  • 3 Ellie Fun Day blankets
  • the limited edition Ellie Fun Day poster
  • 1 Ellie Fun Day Burlap totebag

$365 ///   Ellie’s Heirloom Blankie: We will work with you to create a one of a kind blanket for your loved one that will be treasured for a lifetime. This is truly a special gift that will bring lots of oos and aahs… for generations to last.

  • everything from Ellie’s Swag ( 1 totebag & 1 poster)
  • plus 1 customizable, heirloom blanket, hand-sewn by Sarah, which includes a design consultation.
$450 /// Ellie’s Prep Club: everything from Ellie’s Blankie AND three hours of personalized nursery/or 1 room interior and design consultation by Sarah; OR three 1-hr personalized college-preparation and application consultations for students between grades 8 and 11 by Elton.

$1,000 ///   Ellie’s Photo Friends : If you’ve ever wanted your child to be a model in an ad, this is the time! We will work with you to get just the right shot and you will have the photos to prove it! (limited to the Sacramento and SF Bay Area)

  • 1 Calvina Photography Session Package and we’ll feature your child (5 and under) in an Ellie Fun Day promo
  • plus everything from Ellie’s Blankie Swag

 $7,000 ///   Ellie’s Tour : hear stories of transformation and gain an in-depth perspective on our development work. Let this trip also be an opportunity for you to dream of how you can bring change to our world!

  • everything from Ellie’s Blanket Swag
  • and one trip to India to meet the women who are making the blankets

Please go to our INDIEGOGO PAGE to support us! Thanks friends and family!

 

 

 

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Nov

07

Ellie Fun Day: Possibilities Project

In approximately 4 days my husband and I will be heading with two dear friends to India. This pilot trip really is about setting out to do the impossible. In this season of recession, some people have called us crazy to start up a new company. Though we understand the difficulty, we can’t help but to see the amazing opportunity.

Some of you already know that Calvina Nguyen, from Calvina Photography will be joining us on this pilot trip to help tell our story from the very beginning. I’m ecstatic to have her and I can’t wait to see the stories that will come out of it.

Another dear friend of ours, Nate Chan from Yours Truly will also be a part of this pilot team sharing our journey through video (he shot our awesome teaser video!). They’ve been featured in WIRED MAGAZINE , MTV and many other industry mags.  Nate has profiled numerous up and coming indie bands as well as Grammy award winning Lady Antebellum. We are incredibly honored to have him join us.

Please spread the word and follow us for updates, pics and videos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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