2.20 billion active users on Facebook, over 1 billion on Instagram and 330 million on Twitter.
We, as humans, yearn to connect with others and to learn from others but how well are we really connected?
At The ANJELMS Project, our tagline is “Inspire to make a difference” and this statement is at the core of everything we do. This comes from the strong belief I have gathered through my years dealing with communities globally as much as dealing with customers in my 18 years in retail or connecting within my own community. Every individual has a story to tell. By story to tell, I mean each individual has a “why”, something that sets them apart from others, something that excites them, and/or motivates them to be the best person they can be.
I have discovered that very often, we are too busy to find out someone else’s story, too private, or we don’t have the time to listen. So much so that very often, we are not even aware of our own “why”, as we too consumed in our daily life.
But if we choose to stop, become aware of our own story, or find out of someone else’s dreams, motivations, and special skills, a whole new world opens as we connect on a personal level. We show genuine interest in what the person has to say and that is the best tool to inspire someone.
When a person feels recognized and valued, that person is capable of extraordinary things whatever their background, age, gender or social status.
This is how we started The ANJELMS Project 10 years by listening to the story of Arik and Jero in Bali who had the dream of sending their children to college. I was in fashion retail, and they had family members who were weavers and tailors. Three months later we had a market stall in Fremantle, selling ikat and batik resort wear. It all grew from a common fire we found in our belly to start a change.
Every person who works for the project will be asked this question before they start working. That question is often what brings them to work to us in the first place.
Jing, who is our social media extraordinaire, is a qualified interior architect (we met when she asked me to use our store a case study for the ultimate ethical store), a fantastic baker, photographer, and web builder. After years of building her practice, she is now offering all these services as a freelance design consultant.
So many of the craftsmen and women employed by Fiona Wright and her husband, Praveen at The Stitching Project, the textile social enterprise we are partnering with in Pushkar, India to make all our garments, have discovered their own “why” while working under Fiona’s guidance. By learning new skills and by feeling valued enough, they become empowered.
This is one of the reasons why we get all our garments hand-signed by their makers because it is not just any cloth, it is a creation they can take pride of and will become a valued piece by the person who will purchase it.
I also find out the “why” of most customers coming through our store as it is the best way to first help them find something in the store that works for them but also because it is an amazing way to build a strong community of like-minded people if we wish to create change together. It is also a constant chance for one to learn.
Last week, from showing our loom to a couple, I discovered he had built his own framed loom to weave at night while his wife was an expert bobbin lace maker and his craft was to hand carve bobbins. An hour conversation ensued with so much knowledge shared, and contact exchanged.
To inspire, and to be inspired requires primarily the wish to put oneself out there in the world or to give someone the confidence to do so. Making a difference is a natural consequence of that. We often assume people don’t want to make a difference for lack of time, ignorance or lack of interest but often if we take the time to listen and to connect, we can share knowledge, experiences and educate each other.
So, my request to you today is to think of your “why” whether it is to be the best parent you can be, to learn a new language or a new skill, or to climb Mount Everest, write it down so you are aware of it every day. Then go outside and find out someone else’s “why”, you might make a new friend, find a new passion, or learn something new, even a simple fact.
If you thought The ANJELMS Project was all about making clothes, just wait for my second blog post. You are now part of the ANJELMS family so welcome to our journey!
We will introduce you to the people in our community and share their “why” and share our values and dreams with you while allowing you to get behind the scenes of our project to show you how we work to ensure sustainable and fair work practices in the making of your clothes.