3.21.2012

Something New

Three short weeks ago, I was a nobody, a nothing. I did not have anything really happening in my life that I was excited about. Sure, I have a great family and wonderful friends, yes, I have an Etsy shop and love beading, your right I am an MBA student…but life was a bit boring.

Then something happened. It seemed small and unimportant at first. You know, the kind of thing you think could be big, but normally nothing ever happens?

This time, something happened.

I was reading a textbook for a class and it said that in business today, we need to look at the competition as collaborators instead of as competition. “Huh,” I thought, “that’s interesting.” Etsy, and the world, for that matter, is full of jewelry makers and sellers. Competition right? Then again…an idea was beginning to form.

The next day I started working on another bit of homework. A little paper on some topics from the textbook. One of the questions I was supposed to address in the paper was what had I learned and how was I going to apply it tomorrow. At first, I did not know what to make of the question. I mean, come on. What do you usually do with new learning? File it away until you need it right? But the idea to look at others as collaborators and not competitors was a tad different than most new knowledge.

So, I did the paper and in it, I mentioned that I might try asking some of my Etsy friends if they would be interested in some sort of creative collaborative project. I was thinking like 5 of use getting together (over the interwebs, of course!) to work on a project. Naturally, my idea was a piece of jewelry that each person would work on. Then we could action the piece off and the proceeds would go to charity.

I posted my proposal on several different Etsy team forums on Friday night and waited. On Sunday, while I was at church, I could hardly stand it. I just felt so led by the Lord to do this thing. Like it was right. Like it was what I was supposed to be doing right now. I was so filled with excitement that I could barely stop myself from skipping around and shouting “Hurray!”

I got home and started looking at the threads to see if anyone had showed interest. Over  30 people in less than 48 hours had responded. I had Etsy convos (private messages) asking how shops could become involved. I was stunned! The next day, there were about 20 people in the conversation. We had ideas flying everywhere. A blanket, different charities, a scrapbook, a website, a virtual craft fair. All kinds of ideas and they were coming from several different teams. I realized that I had to get everyone together and on the same page.

I started a new team. We did not even have a name yet, but we had about 30 members. At this point, my idea had only been around for about a week.

The first week as a real team…I don’t even know what happened! I mean everyone was talking all at once. A group of 40 some Etsyians – from all over the world – were talking about how we could help others through our crafts. We picked a name – Etsy’s Helping Hands. One member volunteered to start and maintain a website. Another volunteered to do the same for a blog. Yet another started a virtual craft fair. We started a calendar, and three weeks after the idea took shape, we have the rest of the year planned out. We know who is planning the project for each month and we know what charity will gain the benefit.

Our first project is going to be sending our handmade items to a women’s shelter in Texas….and it was not even my idea! I did not come up with it at all. Trey did. And he volunteered to do everything for it. We just send him our items! I am so thrilled to be doing a group project with people who are passionate about the work of the team!

Now we have over 50 members! And we still grow daily. I am still in shock at how amazing this group of people is! I am thrilled with what the Lord is using me for and am so blessed by it all. I cannot wait to see how things go.

My dream for the team is that it will become self-sustaining. That each member can choose to or not to participate in each month’s project.  That we become large enough that we can have local chapters. That we can make a real difference in the world. That we can practice compassion in a tangible way. And that we can use our gifts to give others hope.

I would love to share more about this project with you guys! Let me know if you have any questions! 
Here are our links:

www.etsyshelpinghands.com/ 

virtualcrafts.weebly.com/virtual-craft-fair.html 

http://www.facebook.com/groups/259638884122016/