Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Achievement Unlocked: I Love My New Job!

photo via Fair Trade Winds Facebook page

I met with the owner of Fair Trade Winds on Monday, August 11 to see if I would be a good fit for their open sales associate position.  She hired me and I went in for a couple of hours during a slow time on that Friday for training.  Then I worked for four hours on Sunday.  On Sunday the Ballard Farmers Market goes on right outside the shop and we were super busy.  You might remember that I have social phobia.  Despite there being hundreds of customers in and out of the shop while I was working there, I loved every minute of it!  My bosses and co-workers are all super cool and nice and helpful.  I didn't feel even an ounce of stress the whole time, which is super important for me because a lot of stress makes me have seizures.  The shop itself is filled with amazing fair trade products from around the world, and they all have a great story behind them.  It is a super inspiring environment to work in, both artistically and socially.  I have learned so much already!  I am really passionate about the products and the people who make them, and I have been telling anyone and everyone who will listen about the importance of fair trade.  I feel like I am making a difference by working there and that is a great feeling.

For those of you who don't know what fair trade means, let me tell you about it.  It's not just a fancy buzzword and it's not a label people slap on products so they can charge more money for them.  According to the Fair Trade Winds website, "Fair Trade is a system of trade that focuses on transparency, respect and equality. We support fair trade because we believe it is important to consider the lives and livelihood of the people who make the things we buy. Fair Trade ensures a fair, living wage, a healthy, safe and non-discriminatory work environment, and a commitment to building long-term partnerships that dignify an artisan’s work."  I have learned some other things about fair trade from working in the shop so far.  Fair trade products are handmade by people in other countries, especially third-world countries.  A lot of the makers are women and/or mothers who would have no other way to provide for their families.  It helps the women in male-dominated societies to be able to take care of themselves and keeps them from having to go into human trafficking.  Fair trade products sell for a price that will provide a living wage for the people who make them.  Different countries have different living wages so a similar product can sell for a very different price depending on the country the maker lives in.  Fair trade is actually very affordable.  I am continually surprised by how low the prices of various products are compared to what I would expect to pay for them.  These products are handmade with care and attention to detail.  Here are some great examples of products that I have learned about, which we sell in the shop and you can also buy in the online shop (just click the picture to go to the item):

These bracelets are made of dyed grass by Maasai artisans.  They are stretchy and can be worn as a bracelet, anklet, or necklace.  100% of the profits from this design go toward paying the salaries of local Kenyan teachers.
http://www.fairtradewinds.net/shop/hand-in-hand-shea-butter-soap/
This is an all-natural shea butter soap and it's super pretty.  But more importantly for each bar purchased one will be donated to someone who doesn't have soap, and 50 square feet of rainforest is saved.  This company is dedicated to protecting against diseases caused by the lack of clean water in impoverished areas and they just built their first clean water well in Haiti.  This soap would be a great gift but also great to keep for yourself (I want one of each scent.)

http://www.fairtradewinds.net/shop/cement-bag-small-messenger-anchor/
This messenger bag is the perfect addition to a nautical outfit.  It's made in Cambodia of recycled cement bags and purchasing it helps in the fight against human trafficking.
http://www.fairtradewinds.net/shop/dragonfly-garden-haitian-recycled-oil-drum-wall-art/
Last (for today) but not least is this lovely Haitian metal wall art.  They make all sorts of designs out of old oil drums!  Each piece of art is created by cleaning an old oil drum, cutting it open, pounding it flat, sketching a design, then creating it with a hammer and chisel.  All of the pieces are coated with a rust preventative and the big pieces are signed by the artist.  Learn more here.  These are the pieces that shock me the most with how low the price is for the incredible amount of work and detail that goes into making them.

Fair Trade Winds has locations in Bar Harbor, Maine, Fairfax, Virginia, Stony Brook, New York, Seattle, Washington, Springfield, Ohio, Jamestown, Rhode Island, and Boulder, Colorado.  You can find addresses and hours for all of the locations here.  If you aren't near any of those locations you can shop the products online here.

It's not too early to start your Christmas shopping and fair trade products make great gifts.  I intend to do all of my Christmas shopping at Fair Trade Winds.  I have already been scoping out gifts for my family (and some for myself too! I seriously love all of the dresses.)

I was in no way compensated for writing this post.  I just can't stop telling everyone how amazing fair trade is!  I will definitely continue to share my favorite products from the store every so often.  If you still want to know more about fair trade, you can read the Fair Trade Winds blog or check out the Fair Trade Federation site.  In my next fair trade post I'll talk about the principles of fair trade and share some more of my favorite fair trade products, including the prettiest tin cups ever.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friday Fashion: Fossil Hunting


First of all, I want to say thank you for all all your kind and supportive comments and emails on my last post.  I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and hormones definitely made it worse, but it helped me a lot to know that I have so much support from other people who are in the same boat.

Secondly, I have a job interview on Monday!  It's at a fair trade place that wasn't hiring when I left my resume with them at the beginning of the year but they moved locations and found my resume and really want to meet me.

Thirdly, I want to talk about fossil hunting.  When I was in elementary school my brother and I would always bring in fossils for show and tell.  Not animal fossils (I wish!) but plant fossils, which are still super cool.  There's this cliff up the hill from my grandparents' house that has rocks erode off of it and lots of the rocks have fossils in them.  We like to call it The Fossil Rock and we keep its location top secret.  The outfit above would be so perfect for fossil hunting, although probably with boots instead of the sandals but I love those sandals.  I really want that shirt and the bag is amazing!  I would wear it with this lava and pyrite necklace.


When I went home a couple of months ago to visit my brother I stopped by The Fossil Rock with my mom to do some fossil hunting.  We didn't find any plant fossils but we did find some petrified wood and a lot of rocks with crystal bands.

There are lots of pretty wildflowers on top of The Fossil Rock.


The Fossil Rock itself.  It's not much to look at to most people but I love how you can see so many different rock layers.
the pretty treasures I found; petrified wood in the center

Fossil hunting and rock hunting in general is a fun and usually free pastime that I have enjoyed since I was little.  I am excited to incorporate some of my finds into my handmade jewelry.  It's always cool when two passions come together.  Do you like rock hunting?  I would love to see photos of your rock collection!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Checking In

I've been in a weird mood lately.  I've been feeling very stressed and depressed.  I don't want to go sleep at night because I know that once I go to sleep I won't want to wake up.  I've been having a lot of compulsions lately, the C part of OCD.  And they make me feel like I'm crazy.  I don't even want to talk about them here because I don't think most people would understand.  I don't even understand and I'm the one it's happening to.  And I don't know who to talk to about it or how to get help when I can hardly even bring myself to leave the house most days due to my social anxiety.  I have stuff to blog about but I haven't felt like blogging.  I haven't felt like doing much of anything besides eating and watching Netflix.  I just don't know anymore.  I'm just letting you guys know I'm alive but I won't be blogging again until I feel like it.  It might be tomorrow; it might be next week.  I don't know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Biggest Business Mistake


Today I was thinking about my business, Honeybee Alley, and trying to figure out ways to improve it.  I started to think about my abundant use of coupon codes.  I have a problem and it is that I create random sales all of the time, like every other week or even more often.  Tonight I have been reading a bunch of small business related posts that I Pinned and put aside to read someday.  I came across one post in particular that explained why having sales all the time might actually be hurting my business.  The post is about why mainstream marketing tricks aren't good for small businesses.  I felt like giving out coupon codes was a good way to make sure people would keep up with my posts, on Facebook or Google+ or this blog.  I have the tendency to want to give people great deals but my products already are on the lower end of the price spectrum, so not only am I cutting into my profits but am also "giving off the vibe that [I have] a cut-rate brand."  The blogger,, also explains that "if you put things on sale with any kind of regularity, customers will feel like they should never have to pay full price at your shop, and will wait for the sale."  I need to keep in mind that I have set my prices at what they are for a reason.  That is what my time, effort, and supply cost is worth.  If I'm always offering discounts people might think my product isn't worth the full price and maybe it's made with poor quality materials or just not well-made.  So this is me realizing that my prices reflect my work and I need to save sales for special occasions and not make them a weekly thing.