Sunday, July 26, 2009

Are You Committed?

By Marita Greenidge

Are you committed? I mean are you really committed? It’s pretty easy to say you’re committed because words are easy. I can say anything I want in the world but following through with actions is the difficult part.

I wanted to gain an MBA. After the first quarter I was told my full scholarship wasn’t really a full scholarship. I was literally faced with being kicked out of school because I couldn’t pay my bills. Perfect time to give up, right? Nope…

Commitment doesn’t mean that you’re in it only for the good times. The true test comes when the waters become choppy. I made the decision that I was going to get my MBA from Simon and I was surely going to make that happen. I now possess an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship so I guess I can say staying true to the course paid off.

Marriage, friendship, goals…..having kids. These are all things that require a strong commitment because you know what? The journey won’t always be easy. Spouses will annoy you; kids will upset you; things will not always go as planned. But you have to be strong enough to say, “I made a decision and I’m going to see it through”.

Right now at KVI sales are down. But guess what? We made a commitment to our suppliers and we’re going to stick with them as we navigate through this challenging economic time. What about you? Are you honoring your commitments?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Aaahhhh to be Sweet.....

By Marita Greenidge

People usually don’t think I’m a sweet person. I’ve never understood why.

My latest explanation as to why I’m lacking the sweetness component is because my career-minded nature and ambitiousness overpower any sweet qualities. So I thought to myself, what defines a sweet person? When do you describe someone as sweet?

Must I wear ribbons in my hair? Should I own a puppy? Maybe I should own a puppy that has ribbons in its hair! Hahahaha….

Then I thought about what makes me think someone is sweet. I think both Rebecca and Glenn are sweet people. What makes them fit the bill?

  • They have strong moral values
  • They care about the welfare of others a whole lot
  • They show how much they care by actually going out of their way to help others
  • There’s a smile on their face even when they’re not actually smiling
  • They motivate me to lead a good and decent life

I guess sweet can mean a lot of things for different people but my definition never seems to coincide with that of others. What does sweet mean to you?


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Make a Difference today

By Rebecca and Glenn Fadner

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Everybody's talking about the economy these days. And all of us are "challenged" by the effect it is having on our lives (and our investments). How often do we stop to think of the effect that it is having in the poorest regions of the world?

Our supplier Hagar Design has had to lay off over half of the women it employs because orders are "down" from every part of the world. The impact is not only on the ladies, but affects their children as well. Even we at KVI have had to reduce our orders by more than half the amount we ordered last year.

When we first started working with Maria, our seaglass artisan in Honduras, our orders made it possible for her to send her son, Samuel, to school. The economy has so devastated the tourist trade that Made in Honduras has far less traffic (and sales) in their shop. The "extras" are "out". Our recent purchases from Maria are essential to allow her to put food on the table.

Food prices are skyrocketing in Kenya. You can argue whether it's the economy or the corruption (probably both!), but many people are hard-pressed to put basic staples on their table. When we visited our artisans this past February, we brought along a gift of basic food staples to each one. We had been told that what we brought (flour, corn meal, oil, sugar, tea) was about a week's worth of food for a family.

A few weeks after we returned home, we heard from our artisan Simon, owner of Alisim Glass Studio in Kenya, how appreciative they were for the food that they had "stretched" for more than three weeks.

These are just a few examples that WE know about, but we know they are not isolated cases. When the economy falters in the "developed" world, we describe it as "painful" and "difficult". For those in the "developing" world, it could best be described as "devastating".

Buying Fair Trade products helps lessen the impact because one of the key tenets of Fair Trade is "fair" payment to the people doing the work. When you make a purchase - whether it's a gift from KVI, flowers for a loved one, coffee, tea, or chocolate - we encourage you to purchase Fair Trade and know that you "made a difference".


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Don’t Settle for Mediocrity….Be Extraordinary

Along the way, we settle,” began Seth Godin’s post. And I thought about this, along the way sometimes we do settle. We settle in relationships and we settle in jobs. In relationships we just don’t want to be lonely….in jobs we just need to make some money.

The personal development books will tell you, you don’t have to settle and any motivational speaker worth his/her salt will tell you the same. But then you take a step back and look at your life and wonder “Gosh, how do they really expect me not to settle? These are just easy words; they don’t have to live my life.”

And you know what, that’s true…they don’t have to live your life. But I’m going to throw my hat in the ring and also say settling is bad. I’m a realist although if you met me you’d probably think I’m a na├»ve optimist :-). I want everything to be amazing but I recognize things aren’t always so simple for everyone in the world so giving up-in-the-air solutions is a sure-fire way for people to turn away….I’ve seen people lose their faith because they aren’t given practical solutions beyond “Trust in God”.

And I trust in God but sometimes when dealing with real issues you need a lot more than those words.

Let’s take a look at jobs. Sometimes you do have to settle for a job which isn’t ideal because without it you might not be able to repay student loans or support your family. However that job doesn’t have to be the end of the line; there may be skills you can glean that help you get to where you want to go. There may be connections you can make. Don’t look at the situation with a closed mind; view it as a stepping stone to getting you where you want to go.

Relationships are a little bit more tricky…it’s obviously completely unfair to be using someone as a stepping stone to someone else. But with these I’d have to recommend that settling is not an option. If you know what you want and what makes you happy then you deserve nothing less and anything less will make you unhappy. Of course you shouldn’t have a laundry list of things that need to be checked off…people are only human remember!! But I’m sure there are some key traits you don’t want to compromise on. So don’t…..and these key things are usually better as character traits instead of superficial qualities.

So what makes me qualified at just 26 years of age to be speaking such things? Let’s say I’ve been there and done that. Settling never makes you happy.