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.
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Jul

11

The Process: being a social entrepreneur

As a social entrepreneur I get asked the the question often, “So when are you going to launch your product?” I’ve gotten enormous support from friends, family and even strangers that I haven’t met that are ready to jump at the chance of buying an Ellie Fun Day blanket. I would love to get them into the hands of every single mom and baby down the street today! (I hear Natalie Portman just had Baby Aleph, and another mini-Kardashian is on the way?!) But all good things come to those who wait.

Starting a successful business is a challenge in itself, I know the statistics so we’re taking calculated steps in trying to assure success for the long-term duration. IF anyone asks what does it take, I’m still learning, but I hope to discuss our process here so that others that are paving this path into the jungle of social entrepreneurism can learn from our findings, mistakes and successes.

Next Steps:

1.) Business mentors: people with expertise in baby/children’s market, import/export, entrepreneurs etc.
2.) Fabric resources: organic cottons and silks is our preferred choice
3.) Business Models: do we do direct sales (online?) or wholesale (stores and boutiques)

Then there are the gazillion other things that we’re learning through this process: from SEO, to trade regulation quotas, organic certifications, FTC regulations on children’s wear etc etc. But in the end we realize we need to take it one step at a time or else will be biting off more than we can handle.

Right now we’re in the process of testing our organic blankies with babies in the real world. They’ve been asked to spit-up, poop, pee and love them as they would. As simple as it sounds we want these blankies to stand the test of time, be functional and also be well-loved for babies and kids. We may be looking for mommies and daddies that are interested in our tester blankies, so look out for another post coming soon!

Meanwhile here’s a little post of Baby Nguyen’s blankie. My friends and I threw Lisa and Billy an amazing airplane themed baby shower. Check it out!

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