If you didn't already know (weren't in the know)...free samples of many of our products go out in the post with every order. No more embarrassing queries at checkout. I know I hate it when I have to ask, like when I shop at department stores or Sephora. For example, One All Natural Hair & Body Wash 20 fl. retails for $24, sample delivered to your door: Free. What better way to get to know your skin care products and get to know us?
Once again I had the fun opportunity of selling my handcrafted soap and extended body care line at one of the nation's top curated handmade markets; Renegade Craft. It's a long, laborious, sometimes masochistic task, packing up the majority (OR carefully selected) products to take on the road, organizing and packing them into your car and recreating your own traveling store by hand. It's, unlike a lot of regular jobs, heavy lifting. Most of these people are hard core artists living off their work or the types that can't and won't work for others, so they start their own apparel, candle, jewelry, card line and the rest is history. When you shop these events and look at them as an outsider, not as a vendor, you get a wholly different perspective on the experience. It allows you to walk away from your station as salesperson/marketer/creator and appreciate some of the amazing goods people around you are capable of imagining and executing. These are not your grandmother's knitted tea cozys. Look closer and you will see a deep level of creative detail and focused hard work that goes into creating outwardly hip products. As we all know by now, a lot of these ideas are pilfered and plagiarized by big companies in the design marketplace looking to emulate "small". Small is in. Small and handmade in America has become big money. Then there's those making things to benefit others less fortunate...
I had the great pleasure to split a booth with Connor; a clean cut Masters student from UCLA originally from Minnesota, just a normal nice guy. We spent two days together in the "hot" December sun. Yes, L.A. is weird weather for those not from around here. He was kind enough to gift me for the tent share; an entirely unnecessary gesture, if you know me. I don't do anything I don't want to and I don't expect favors. So for his generosity I would like to shed light on his work. His cause and mission is based on providing homeless people (a vast number) a working wage to obtain necessary life things. I won't summarize his mission for him so here it is in his own words:
Would-Works helps people in the U.S. who are living in poverty. We are not a charity. We are a social enterprise that offers men and women the dignity to work for specific needs. Often when someone is living in poverty, he or she is so busy addressing immediate needs that it is not possible to obtain even small items that many of us take for granted. We want to help alleviate immediate financial stress by providing a way for people to earn money for a specific goal. Eyeglasses. Dentures. A bus ticket home.
The story of Would-Works is a story of listening to people in need and coming up with a way to help. Connor Johnson started to work with people living in poverty in 2009 through a year of service with AmeriCorps. Connor met hundreds of men and women who live in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. He heard their hopes and dreams, as well as the obstacles they face. Over and over they said, “I WOULD WORK if I could.” A recession contributed to the problem. Companies weren’t hiring; funding to social service agencies was cut. Connor decided he needed to find a way to help the people he had come to know and love. He enlisted his marketing pro mother, Katherine, and together, with the help of family and friends, they created this social enterprise.
Why focus on the U.S.?
Because 1.6 million Americans are homeless every night.
Because 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty.
Why Los Angeles?
Because Connor lives there. And because every night in Skid Row 4,000-5,000 men, women and children are homeless.
What about other cities?
Big hopes and dreams have us opening in additional cities. Stay tuned. ''
While his work is much more noble than mine and most others at this show, I have to highlight the fact that people who give, give because it's part of who they are. You know genuine kindness when you see it (or at least I do). Like John Lennon says, "So this is Christmas, what have you done?" That's one I will be asking myself in a few weeks at the end of the year. Check out would-works.com if you need a last minute Christmas gift. Giving gifts with a story are always more enjoyed.