...a very good place to start.
"How did you...? How did this...?" is a question I hear several times a week. If you have asked that question, I probably just shook my head and answered, "I don't know! It started as a simple conversation, which led to a favor for a friend, which led to... a new business?"
Now that I have had a couple of months to process everything that has happened since that initial conversation with Mimi Wilson one morning in church, I can see that God was weaving many seemingly disparate threads together to create a colorful tapestry and connect all the right people together for something really exciting. I am still surprised at where we are today, moving this business from my minivan to this website, but I am no longer shaking my head in disbelief.
Fall 2013, when my youngest was 4 months old, I became an Ambassador for Noonday Collection, selling fair trade accessories handmade by artisans in vulnerable situations (such as AIDS, widows, genocide survivors). My primary goals were fairly simple- have a little motivation to dress up and get out of the house and have a chance to connect and converse with other women. I was also excited to be able to call excessive jewelry purchases "business expenses." And I wanted to advocate for adoption, since I believe one of the best ways to provide orphan care and prevention is to provide dignified jobs for parents at risk of losing their children for lack of sufficient funds to care for them (which Noonday Collection does through their partnership with vulnerable artisan groups).
Joining the Ambassador community was like stepping through the wardrobe to Narnia. I was in a completely new world, chasing down blog trails and devouring books on human trafficking, fair trade ethics, global economics, adoption theology, justice, and even fashion. Everything changed- the way I shopped, the way I dressed, the conversations I sought out, and the things I talked about on facebook. Also, I started to cry more, about everything- about orphans, about women, about the sex trade, about factory workers in Bangladesh, about God's unmistakable movement in my life orchestrating unbelievable details perfectly, about how I have hot water for long showers while children were dying of simple thirst.
Enough incredible, beautiful, stretching conversations kept happening over facebook chat and at trunk shows that I started approaching all of life differently. My mindset became one of taking advantage of every new opportunity that arose, of walking through every open door in front of me. I hardly stopped to think about it; I just viewed every conversation as an opportunity to learn from someone and build a connection. I wanted to be open to whatever was next.
Fast forward to one morning at church, I decided to be bold, because I wanted to meet a woman I had heard about who I knew was visiting from Rwanda. I asked what she was doing there and told her about Noonday's artisans in Africa.
I started to dream with Mimi and with a few of her friends. Then we started to brainstorm. Then I got some pictures of Mimi's Rwandan friends (who she refuses to call prostitutes) in my email. I started to learn their names, their stories, and their prayers. I offered to try and sell a few Christmas decorations for them, just to be helpful. Then I sold 8 times more than my initial agreement. And now, here we are in February 2014 with a social enterprise and the start of a home goods and holidays collection. Welcome to The Sparrow Studio. Feather your nest with hope.