The middleman always gets a bad rep, but let’s face it, without the person in the middle it would be extremely costly and take a LOT of time to fly around the world and hop on buses, trains, motorcycles, donkeys, tap taps... to find the amazing stuff we all love to find in our local shops.
Middlemen serve the world in 2 ways:
- The emerging artist is blessed to sell to a broader market
- The local customer is blessed to get a beautiful thing they themselves did not have to spend thousands of dollars and several weeks to find.
It is a balanced and beautiful transaction.
I am very thankful for the people that own the boutiques and coffee shops and online businesses that buy from 2nd Story Goods. Without them, there is no way we could do what we do! They walk by faith each month too. They place costly orders because they too want to see people paid a fair and living wage. They advertise and take good care of their customers. They are heroes!
All that to say, we need these “middlemen” because we are not that.
If being a middleman would have been the most helpful role for us to play in Jubilee Haiti, that is absolutely what we would have done. If we had come into the community and found people making amazing, marketable products, we could have simply bought them up, shipped them to the USA and used the money to buy more. It would have been lovely and simple and good for everyone. We would have simply connected Makers to Markets.
But that wasn’t the case.
Our Goal has always been to affect change in a specific place. The community of Jubilee; To take the community by the dump...and watch the kingdom of Heaven invade and heal, lift up and F L I P the story told here.
We started with the found objects and found beautiful people. We picked up broken glass and discarded cloth...we washed and tumbled and gathered with yet to be trained women in the community and strung together crazy wind chimes and angels and earrings and necklaces made from simple things. We then imported supplies and tools and with the help of friends who flew in to invest their lives...we made almost marketable items! And beautiful friends bought them!
At one point I had thought that we could turn the individual groups into stand-alone businesses. I met with the leaders and explained this strategy. They were not impressed. They felt like we were going to kick them out and make them go it alone. Not what they wanted. It also became clear that what it takes to do business in the world today is vast, techie and requires thousands of dollars of investment and people with the skills to do that work.
So, we made the BIG decision to create a Beautiful. Life-Giving, Thriving Company that brings everyone’s skills together into one House, so that all benefit from each other’s strengths. And this decision has made all the difference.
Now we are building. Now we are able to appreciate every single person’s role as being valuable to the whole. We are all connected. We are growing a really lovely company culture. We are training in leadership, we have think tanks where everyone’s voices are listened to. We are promoting from WITHIN the company. AND IT’S CRAZY FUN!
It is about the quality of our goods, but it is also about this stunning journey of building a company together. Studying, exploring and working really hard to make it happen.
Basically, we are crafting a business model that is of a vastly different culture with servant leadership, humility, creativity, honor, beauty, and respect …we are all constructing together.
I liken it to building a family. The best thing I’ve ever done. This is like that.