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Why #Blessed is Not Always Best

She wasn’t the first one to give me this feedback.

This buyer kindly shared with me that our pieces weren’t inspirational enough for her market. Christian shoppers want more crosses, inspirational sayings, more #blessed  please. I GET it.

I really do and at the end of the day we want to make our customers happy. If they want more meaningful pieces that tell the world about their faith, then we want to deliver! But I couldn’t walk out of that meeting without saying the following. “I believe that HUGG pieces are pretty inspirational. We are helping transform former street boys into craftsmen and because of this, they are changing their communities.” It may not have been quite that refined but I think I got my point across. 

I’ve been debating whether or not to post a couple of other thoughts that ran through my mind that day. They’re not ugly thoughts, just wanting us to rethink the whole Christian jewelry thing.

Not as Charming as You Think

Many of the charms, metal tags and inspirational crosses found in your typical gift shop are mass manufactured in uninspiring industrial buildings that may or may not be abiding by labor laws that respect the dignity of its workers. So even though the cute charms that dangle from our bracelets tell others about our faith—it may do so at the expense of another person across the world who is just trying to carve out an honest living.

The mission brand movement is exploding as more shoppers ask about sustainability practices, ethical sourcing and ecofriendly alternatives. It’s a really cool thing that people are wondering about whether the communities that make our products are impacted in a positive way. But here is the not-so-good news–we’ve spoken to many retailers over the years and surprisingly, it isn’t the Christian community that is as concerned for the hands that are making their merchandise. I know–it surprised me, too but it is the hard truth, my friend.

Perhaps there should be a little less emphasis on expressing our faith through cute dangly crosses and more on living out our faith through the way we spend our dollars….

Just saying.

What would Jesus Wear?

I know, I know….this sounds a little too Christian pop culturish for my palette, but really. If Jesus had chosen to humanize himself in this century, what would he have chosen to wear? Would he have accepted clothes given to him by friends or would he have purchased from a second-hand store? I think I can safely say that he would have been mindful of the hands that made his clothing. Think about it–If he could sense a hemmoraging lady touch a sliver of his cloak (Matthew 9:20)—I am certain he would have felt the wounds of the person who made the things he wore. And I believe it would have mattered to him.

I don’t know about you, but I picture him wearing faded jeans and a t-shirt–something super casual. As for shoes–a good pair of broken in Birkenstocks. So this sounds a little cheesy but I can also see him wearing HUGG simple macrames.  I’d give him one in each color and a few extra for him to give away. My point? What we choose to purchase matters in more ways than we think.

With so many ethical brands popping up, it shouldn’t be too hard to make small adjustments to your shopping. Check out @thefairleslie for ideas on how to get started. I’ve said this before—it’s not about perfection, it’s about direction. We shouldn’t leave our faith at home when it comes to shopping. In fact, we should keep our faith in our pocketbooks by thinking twice about some of the products we purchase. THIS is inspirational. THIS is living a life that is #blessed.

P.S—We DID listen to the feedback from our Christian retailer friends. Sign up for our HUGG Happenings and be the first to know when our new “Created to Inspire” Collection releases.

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Thank You for “Getting” What We Do!

Deflated. That’s how I felt when I walked into Market Hall in Dallas for one of the biggest shows of the year.   As I headed to our tiny booth, I took in the lavish displays of our competitors.  My thoughts went something like this—“Holy crapola!  There’s a lot of jewelry here!”

It quickly became apparent that our efforts to go “all out” for this show seemed to pale in comparison to the gloriously shiny booths that stuck their tongues out at me as I rolled my cart through.  It made me feel like yuck, much like the bottom of my muddy rain boots.

So I did what I always do when my optimism is viciously attacked by outside forces.  I pulled out my little cheerleader angel and she whispered what I wanted to hear:

“Our product is unique and crafted with love.  Surely shoppers will “get” our story.  It is unique and crafted in love….ra ra ra!”

Still feeling a little crappy.

Once the jewelry was laid out, I began placing photos on the white walls of our booth and slowly, ever slowly, the magic of our ministry began to unfurl before my eyes.  There were pictures of bright pink bougainvillea and beaches that boasted the beauty of Haiti. There were also pictures of trash and filth that revealed the brokenness from which our artisans come from.  There were dark, beautiful hands knotting bracelets—white faces, black faces, laughing, praying, working, playing.  This is us!

This is what sets HUGG jewelry apart!

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We didn’t have three glorious booths side by side or bounties of overflowing stock on our tables. We had us.

We had honest to goodness hand-made products that honestly empower young men in Haiti and that, honestly, is something that we are straight-up proud about.

We have Lindsay who designed and put together an amazing global chic display for us.  Robin, our in-house “jewelry lady” crimped and braided and beaded and hung chain on our demos down to the night before we left for market.  Kiley crunched numbers and cranked out pricing for our new pieces and Valerie photographed and curated a last-minute spring insert that we literally picked up from the printers on the way to Dallas.  This is the incredible story that I get to be a part of and I share it proudly.

I’d like to say that we had some killer sales and we had the ONE retailer who  thrust us into mainstream markets and now we can hire a hundred more teens aging out of orphanages.  But that is not how it works, does it?  I can say that we are now in several more stores than we were before we got here.  And for those people that did “get” us; please know that your joy over your purchase makes us feel successful because we know there are people out there that share our belief in our purchasing power.  It IS possible to positively impact the lives of people because of what we choose to buy for ourselves.  Now that is worth cheering about….ra ra ra!

Dallas Market….get ready for Round 2.

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