501(c)3 Non-Profit empowering the poor in Haiti

My upside down world…

The first shall be last.
Those who want to be the greatest must be the servant of all.
Unless you are willing to lose your life, you cannot save it.
I am paraphrasing of course, but the crazy reality of some of these truths have become so much more of a reality to me in the past few months.

It’s an upside down world!
This morning I spent a good chunk of time with Donna Karan. The fashion designer.
I am not really sure how it happened, but a key person for the Apparent Project right now is a super cool chick named Caroline Sada who has a restaurant right by the embassy that serves all natural and fresh food! A sweet little restaurant, she gets all kinds of big wig traffic and she is one of those restaurant owners who knows everybody that comes in her door. She had fallen in love with our jewelry and our mission sometime around August and has been peddeling our stuff out of her restaurant to all kinds of big wigs. It has been through her that we have been able to sell and tell our story to celebrities such as Olivia Wilde (Tron and House) and Maria Bello (Grown Ups, Coyote Ugly, and ER).
A couple of days ago, Caroline called me and said that sme people from DKNY wanted to meet to look at the jewelry. I was flattered… but stunned when I found out that it was ACTUALLY Donna Karan and that she was looking for a “Haitian artisan” themed fashion line.
I have been spending a lot of time in tin shacks, tents, with sick people, starving people, desparate people, hurting people, abused people. I have been spending my last three years getting to know some of the poorest people in our hemisphere and I find it so extraordinarily astounding that in the midst of that, that I would have the opportunity to spend the morning with Donna Karan, have Maria grace our artisan house with her presence, and have red carpet Olivia Wilde pose for a shot with our little Molene who lives in a pup tent in a tent city of 5000. It boggles my mind.

So Donna Karan wants to do something with our jewelry. She wants to base some of her prints for her fashion line off of the color scheme of a few pieces so that people can wear our jewelry with some of her fashion line…. it was truly an extraordinary meeting and I am not sure I fully understand what just happened or what will happen.

I do know that she asked me if she could buy every piece out of our boutique.. I cringed as I know a few people who might be dissapointed if we were completely out of stock this week. So she settled for buying every piece that I had brought to show her- probably close to $2000 worth. Wow. cool.
My life is upside down. I run a business with 130 employees who can’t figure out how not to poop on the floor of the bathroom. My goal in business is to minimize profits and maximize labor costs. I hurt alongside my friends as I am still grieving from earthquake aftermath, still seeing people struggle for their lives with cholera, still watching people get rained on because they don’t have a roof over their heads, still trying to figure out whether I should confront our street boys for consulting with a Voodoo priest, still listening to my neighbor lady get her head bashed against the cement as they try to exorcize her demonic manifestations, still coming up with design ideas for what our artisans can make to add a few more dollars to their pockets, still trying to send my emails with attachments that take one hour to upload, still waiting on the airport to shut down because Aristede might be coming this week, still trying to drive my car with no shocks or brakes or air conditioning or windshield wipers, and yet in the midst of this wacked out life, there are GREAT things happening.. beyond what I could have ever imagined. I look forward to what is to come….
Blessed are the poor.
It is with the poor that I have found my greatest and most humbling blessings.

12 Comments
  1. Shelley – you are an inspiration to so many! Praise God for these new developments because so many more will be helped and transformed. I'm honored to know and watch and learn from you.

  2. so cool!
    is your goal to minimize profits or maximize profits? i am not a business person,b ut that sounded off to me!
    i'm so excited to see what DK does!
    Cathleen

  3. Yes, it's an upside down model!

  4. All sounds very amazing to me, Shelley! Bless you for all you are doing for these dear people in Haiti. God is so good, all the time. You, your artisans and the creations they make are beautiful!

  5. May God continue to bless you abundantly for the passion you share…for your heart that embraces so many…for your creativity and endless energy! You are the hands and feet of God…

  6. Thank you Shellie! I love to hear about God breaking into your upside down world. I'm going to pass this story on the Seattle Vineyard gang.

  7. It is so exciting to read about your ministry in Haiti and how the Lord continues to bless it in amazing ways! I have sold your jewelry to my friends, my church has donated to your cause, and, although I will be sad if I can't sell and buy more jewelry……how exciting to have Donna Karan make fabric to go with YOUR jewelry!! Can't wait to see what she does and what our Lord continues to do through you!

  8. If our God is for us …

    THANK YOU SHELLEY! Thank you for testifying to counter cultural truths and promises of God! I love hearing them and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God is deeply involved within the lives of His people.

    Keep maximizing labor costs! [for those confused, giving people previously unemployed the ability to earn a living for their family]

    Keep minimizing your profits as God grows your business! I remember a short while ago when I could hardly believe that in one week the number of people working jumped from 40 to 60 … and now 130. LORD more!

    Be blessed, know that I am praying for you and your family!

    In His Grace,

    Rob Kuhl

  9. I get so many wonderful compliments on the jewelry I wear. I cannot wait to have another "party" to show and sell the creations of these wonderfully talented folks. And it is very exciting to hear all of the other things they (and you) (and me) are learning! Thank you, Shelly (and family)for ministering in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His love, and His hope are moving in so many places.

  10. WOW!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Wow Shelly,
    I am so excited to hear that your meeting with Donna Karen herself went so well. It was definitely on the minds of all our team as we left on that Sunday and you headed to your meeting. I know our whole team loves and misses you and we are glad to hear that things are going so well. Stay strong and know that you are in our prayers.

  12. Great work and many blessings to you and your group. I have some questions:
    What are the profits used for after maximizing. The 130 people are you getting them slowly out of poverty? Are their kids going to school, please you need to blog about how you are changing the lives around you concretely. We had a lot of feel good stories in Haiti, if you are making an impact in alleviating poverty, show us how, and the big organizations with millions can learn from you.

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