I was listening to a recent episode of This American Life on my way home from work yesterday. Its focus is on Give Directly, an organization that gives cash to poor people. They are mainly working in rural Kenya. They believe that if you give money to a person in poverty, they know what they need and will use it for that. Many other charitable organizations will not give cash directly, believing it will be hard to track how someone will actually use the money. Another organization, Heifer International, gives cows to poor families. Cows, along with an immense amount of training on how to best raise their cow and how to keep it healthy so it will be profitable for them. It sounds like an amazing organization. The spokeswoman believes in what she is doing because of the many immeasurables that come from teaching someone to farm. She relayed the story of a woman who had received her cow and in two years tripled her farm and yield. She was not only making a lot of money for her family, she had also gained a sense of self. She said she is now a proud woman, when she talks, people listen, she has gained a position in the community because of the skills she has attained. Listening to this made me happy and excited but also made me scramble to try and relate. I love her story and her ambition and the results she has seen. I also think the organization sounds amazing and is doing incredible work. I also realize poor people in rural parts of the world are far more poor than I ever was, at my poorest. But, I always wonder why there are not more organizations attempting to help the poor and working poor of the US? Then, I started thinking about what empowerment is and how different it is for everyone. There are things like Etsy, which is by no means a charitable organization. It is a for profit business. But, they created a platform that blows away so many of the barriers for people to make a living making things. I do not believe that very many people are actually making a living from Etsy but, there are some. And there are lots and lots and lots who are making money. Maybe not enough to quit their day job but, they are making a thing, selling it and receiving cash. Cash they can do anything they want with. Chances are they have invested that cash back into the Etsy shop they have set up and they continue to make more things - a cycle that quickly self-perpetuates. For the right person, this may be the thing they need to not feel solely defined by their day job (which they may or may not love) or to be the launch pad for something different. Etsy was the platform that launched Moop. I did not have a business plan..or even a business..but, I posted a bag, the first Market Bag, and sold it within a few days. I was just out of grad school and struggling to make our newly blended family work (Parker was 7 when Jeremy and I married and it was a rough transition for all of us). We lived in an expensive new town, I spent 8 months unemployed and finally found a job answering phones at a pediatricians office. I was not very happy and I was not finding success or life direction. I will never forget the feeling of selling that first Market Bag. It was like a lifeline. It was a moment where I realized an opportunity to create a future life different than my current life but, I would have to work my butt off to get there. And, so I did. The Market Bag is the most important bag we make and it will always be for sale in our shop.
This month has been filled with a series of starts and stops. But, I learned a lot in the process and worked on updating a few of our bags. You all saw the new Backpackjust a bit ago and this week we released the updatedPaperback. The redesign is subtle. I was mainly working on solving a few production issues and in doing so, changed the front closure system. I'm really happy with the outcome...I think you will be, too!
I'll be looking for you tomorrow! Come to Trade Union to shop for Moop bags, Reiko Ceramics, Tugboat Prints and lots of other fantastic things...also, tacos, burgers, margaritas. It's going to be great. From 11am-6pm at The Mine Factory: 201 N. Braddock Ave, 15208.
I am a big fan on Lullatone so, I was excited to see this on The Fox is Black today. Spend some time when your day is through and play with it. Click in the gray box, turn up your computer volume and press any key from A-Z and begin composing.
We are sewing and sewing all of the new colors and should begin shipping them by Friday. I know it's a few days longer than anticipated please accept my apologies for the slight delay.
As most of you know, we make every Moop bag, start to finish, in our studio...which means we make every step of every bag beginning with cutting fabric from large bolts, stitching each individual piece, making all of the connector rings, leather tabs, attaching rivets and snaps, cutting, stitching, marking, correcting, snipping, packing...every single step is done in house, by us. As of today, it looks like the new Backpacks will begin shipping on Friday. yay!
For those of you in Pittsburgh, please come see us at Trade Union this Saturday at The Mine Factory. We're setting up with Reiko Yamamoto Studio and can't wait to see our bags alongside Reiko's beautiful tableware. Reiko's ceramics are all handcrafted in her home studio. Her aesthetic is delicate and considered and modern and perfect. I own a Reiko coffee cup and it receives preferential treatment in my house. Hope to see you Saturday! Event details here.
Hello! We've been dropping hints about a new Moop bag for the last few weeks and it's finally here! And, in a very special limited edition color! Any of you who know me would never pin me for a magenta backpack wearing soul...but, I came across just a small amount of this color and I fell instantly in love. So, I made one for myself and then a bunch for you.
We are super excited to be part of the first Trade Union, held at The Mine Factory in Pittsburgh's East End. We'll be there with a handful of talented makers of beautiful things. There will be food and beverages from BRGR, Round Corner, Blue Bottle Coffee and wares for sale from Stak Ceramics, Red Raven (jewelry and home goods), Mid-Atlantic Mercantile and a handful of other shops specializing in furniture, mens wear, vintage, a barber shop...a perfectly curated gathering of Pittsburgh makers. Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 29, 2014 - 11am-6pm.