I’m so excited to finally let you know about a project that has been brewing for some time now, and is now becoming a reality. In Part 1 of this blog I introduced the specific needs that I’m faced with lately and want desperately to do something about:
- generating funds to help feed the kids at the Ithemba Community Center
- helping the women who serve the children at Ithemba earn some income to help support their own families
- finding a way to use my creativity on a more regular basis and use this to also help our family make up a big chunk that's missing in our financial support
I’ve decided to start a little project and I’m calling it the “Emi’s Closet” Project because my 2 year old daughter Emi and her closet full of clothes has literally clothed so many kids in her short little life, and this was a big part of the inspiration of this fund-generating project. So, here’s what I want to do – Check it out! It is two-fold, and it’s very simple.
First, I simply want to gather together new and GENTLY used clothes from the States to “sell” them in my community here and in the poor township area. This will serve a few purposes. First of all, the people in these areas can’t afford new retail-priced clothes, and the ones that they do buy here are very poor quality and don’t last even a whole season. I know from experience that I can buy quality used clothing in the States that is adorable and it lasts – it’s practically all Emi has ever worn! And having bought Emi’s stuff used, it has been passed on to MANY after she wore it, and is still in good condition.
So, this will provide the poorer community a place to buy great clothes for a fraction of the price. It is an intentional decision to “sell” these clothes and not give them away. I want to help empower people, not continue to create the begging mentality. Since I can buy stuff really cheap at thrift stores, yard sales, and maybe even from my friend’s donating some of their left-over clothes (hint, hint :) ), I can still sell them really cheaply in the township and double my money easily.
The second part of the “Emi’s Closet” Project, is the one I’m most excited about. I have designed some really cool hand-crafted items, and I am going to teach my friends in the community (inc. some of the sweet ladies at Ithemba) to sew and craft them. This will not only create a much-needed income opportunity for them, but it will also allow me to continue developing relationships and getting to know more about how I can help them. Here is a list of “Emi’s Closet” first exclusive designs which we will be offering soon:
· Our “Just Like Mommy” line of adorable little girl’s and mom’s hand-crafted matching aprons
· “Adopt an Owl” - where children will be able to come choose their unique, one of a kind, hand-sewn stuffed owl from a cool, big “owl tree” in a local coffee shop. Each owl will have a unique name, and the child will sign in the owl adoption book the child’s name, the owl’s name, and the place where the owl will be going to live (sort of like Cabbage Patch Kids or Adopt A Bear). If the kids and parents desire, we will take a photo of the child with the owl and feature the photos on the Emi’s Closet website.
· Tourist-focused souvenir gifts including canvas shopping bags, flour sack kitchen towels, small hand-sewn stuffed hearts, baby-grows (onesies) and toddler t-shirts - each screen-printed with one of three Emi’s Closet exclusive designs – the “Love Africa” series, the “Bless Africa” Series and the “Surf Africa” series.
· Unique packaging materials (including bags with tiny hand-made pennant banners in kid’s pastel colors)
I’ve spent quite some time designing these items and I think they’re really cute! I really believe we can sell them in the local market here. I’ve been doing tons of market research, meeting with different professionals, and praying into this thing, and I really believe it has tremendous potential to be a big success. The month of December here local businesses usually make 4 to 5 x what they normally make monthly! There are so many tourists here then – it is really like a different town.
I really think this can generate some income and be a lot of fun in the process! Although I would love to eventually have my own little shop in town, I think it’s important to start small with low/no overhead - selling the clothes “market style” which definitely works here in Africa anyway, and my other hand-sewn/screen-printed items we will sell at a few existing businesses in town on a consignment basis. In addition, I’m also considering setting up at a HUGE farmer’s/craft market once a month. It’s located about 2 hours from here and is actually run by an American woman. It’s such a cool market.
So, that’s the idea for Emi’s Closet. I hope you are excited about it too! I need some help to make it all happen, and it’s actually very grass-roots and simple if you want to help get involved. Emi and I are coming to the States in a few weeks (YEAH!) and so my mom’s house will be a place you can drop things off. Here’s some of the stuff we need to get this thing off the ground:
*New and GENTLY used children’s clothes (sizes newborn to 6T)
No holes and no stains please. This is a great place to re-gift some of that new stuff in your closet that your little one has never worn. You know what I mean! Every little thing counts.
*Craft items (for teaching the women in the community to make the aprons, hearts, and owls) **We need cotton fabrics (in pastels and neutral colors and in any amounts – even tiny scraps as we will use these for the aprons and as embellishments), buttons of all colors and sizes, felt in any color, ribbons, wonder under fusible web, scrap booking paper of any size and color/pattern, and last but not least gift certificates for Joann Fabrics or Hobby Lobby :)
So, if you have a handful of buttons, and a couple of onesies you want to invest in the “Emi’s Closet” Project – PLEASE DO! It’s going to be great. If you don’t live in the Atlanta area, and you would like to mail a few items to help, the address to send them is:
c/o Cheryl Stancil
896 South Main St.
Jasper, GA 30143
I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Thanks for being a part of our lives here in South Africa, and for helping us to make a difference in these lives. We are eternally grateful!
Lots of love,