Life. On the road.

Right now we are driving through the rain; slowly and steadily approaching the Kansas state line.  We are about a week and a half and 5 states away from our home.  My U.S. geography is coming back!

So here is what our world looks like:

two kids that now call our traveling caravan home,

one Tahoe packed full with Ember jewelry and displays,

a roof box that holds our clothes and is collecting stickers from our favorite places,

and a Viking trailer that folds up and down like an accordion.


Somewhere in all of that we are finding a rhythm to everyday life on the road.  Like knowing where the diapers are at all times, or making sure the top hatch in the trailer is closed when a lightening storm and downpour comes out of nowhere in the late afternoon.  Twice.

We figure that most days we will find a campsite as home base and unfold the Viking while we visit a new town and meet with an Ember account.  And there will also be the occasional night where we will appreciate the reprieve of a hotel room to clean up and do some laundry.   And then there will be days where in order to cover some ground, we need to drive late into the night and we will just transfer the sleeping babes into the half pitched Viking for a quick over night stop.

A couple of nights ago was one of those nights.  We were nearing the end of an epic drive through southern Utah.  We had stayed in breathtaking Zion for a couple nights, then were awed by the hoodoos of Bryce canyon, and were on our way to Arches National Park before crossing the state line into Colorado.  It was late when we pulled into Torrey, Utah hungry and tired.  At this point we hadn’t quite worked out dinner on the fly outside the Viking’s small kitchen area .  (Don’t worry, we have since coined the term “road-dillas” thanks to the Colman stove and a few tortillas).  Against all odds we found the only restaurant open at that hour in the tiny town.  Diablo cafe quickly seated us and served one of the best meals we have ever had.  This place is a diamond in the rough with two professional chefs creating unique southern style dishes.  Better yet, our waitress suggested a close by spot where we could pull over and camp below the radar.  She instructed us to go to the end of a nearby dirt road and park anywhere and not to worry because it’s BLM land.  I’m still not sure what that means.

So we found this little spot and although we agreed that it was a little too close for comfort to the few surrounding homes, we were too tired to switch course and we popped the Viking just enough to fit inside.  Meanwhile another car pulled up, intending to do the same. It was a little awkward, but as soon as we decided we were safe, we all climbed in and hunkered down for the night.

Within an hour both Clay and I woke up to the sound of a raging windstorm ripping through the canvas of the Viking.  It sounded like large objects were being thrown against our small trailer.  It was impossible to sleep and we spent the night checking in with each other every hour or so wondering if the whole trailer was going to blow over.  Luckily the girls slept through the whole thing.  So when the sun finally rose, they were bright eyed, rested and full of energy and we crawled out of the trailer about the same time the people in the car next to us did…all feeling like we had been beat up.

So on we went, laughing about our attempt at some quick free camping.  Later that day we crossed the Colorado state line and wound our way up to Gunnison, a small town nestled in the beautiful Rocky mountains.  We met with Western State College and introduced them to the Ember story and welcomed Deb and the bookstore staff to the family of Ember retailers.

Driving down the east side of the Rockies, we got an invitation to stay at the Peace home.  6 years ago when we moved to Shell Beach the first thing we did was inquire about a bright red VW bus for sale on the side of the road.  This led us to the home of Jeff and Terri Peace and thus began our friendship and our bus story. Little did we know they had moved to Greeley CO, and they had answered our call for places to stay.  We enjoyed warm beds, laundry and Colorado brewed beer for a few days before hitting the open road to the mid-west; uncharted territory for both of us.

To be continued…

The Prosperity Line

A couple months back I wrote about the “true poverty line,” the income level below which transformational change is nearly impossible, and above which it becomes feasible.

I’ve renamed it the “Prosperity Line,” and we’re going to find out where it lies. At least for the women we work with. My friend Max and I have been working on a questionnaire to determine how much income one of our Uganda partners really needs in order to pursue her dreams. Dreams of educating her children, building a family home, starting a business, and more.

Not only will we keep you updated on our findings, we’re also going to post the questionnaire here when it’s completed, so other businesses and organizations can use it.

The poverty line is only step one. Here’s to chasing the Prosperity Line.

The Poorest Man

Last week I ran into my friend Tyler at a restaurant. He was there with one of his business mentors, a Ugandan real estate mogul by the name of Anatoli Kamugisha. Tyler introduced us and luckily for me Anatoli thought it appropriate to share one of his favorite quotes. It quickly became one of my favorites.

Download this photo of Mama Esther (click thru for the big version) and add one of your favorite quotes. Share it with us on facebook.

 

Connolly Family Sets Out on Ember Tour

Every family needs a little adventure. For the Connolly clan (comprising of Ember team members Jessica and Clayton, as well as 4 year old Kairah and 11 month old Shiloh), a little adventure doesn’t quite cut it.
 

 
This month, the family will embark on a two-month adventure across the continental United States, beginning in the Ember hometown of San Diego. The journey will include visits to retail stores–both those that currently house Ember goods and those that we hope will sign on.
 
Each visit seeks to forge relationships and tell the Ember story, as well as capture and promote the individual flavor of the businesses whose support have made the Ember story achievable. We want as many people as possible to believe that “Every woman has a dream”, and show how each individual and business owner is helping to make those dreams realities.
 
So that means Ember’s coming to you!
 
Jess and Clay want to explore what this country has to offer, and are looking for your input: best places to eat, essential things to see–they want to know what makes your city unique. Check out this interactive Google Map to get a rough idea where they’re heading! (Be sure to post any advice on the Ember Facebook page, and stay posted for a finalized itinerary.)
 
Want to really get involved? Here’s three ways to do so:

  • Host the family
    • The family is looking for places to stay and make friends along their journey. Gifts will, of course, abound, and you’ll be able to get to know the family personally and hear about Jess and Clay’s individual experiences. You’ll learn more about the Ember story, and become part of the story.
  • Host an Ember party
    • Publicize Ember Arts in your home town! Host an Ember party with plenty of gifts for yourself and your guests. All will be able to learn more about the Ember story, and become part of the story.
  • Suggest a store
    • Want to see Ember products in your favorite retail store? Make it happen! Contact your local shop and help Jess and Clay make the connection; let the store know they’ll be in the area, and help arrange a meeting. Gifts will, as always, abound.

The couple plans to set out the week of August 22nd, and they look forward to publishing and publicizing their journey on their family blog and the Ember Facebook page.

Every Woman has a Dream

Our good friends at Caava Design designed this poster for free, so that we could offer it as a gift to you. Click here or above to download the hi-res printable version.

Every woman has a dream — of personal success or building a family or lifelong adventure, or any combination of 1,000 goals. And today more women than ever have the liberty and resources to pursue their dreams.

But in places like Uganda where conflict and poverty limit opportunity, women’s dreams are often postponed and forgotten. Families invest their few resources in opportunities for boys and men, while girls are pulled out of school and women are confined to little more than domestic servitude. Over time their dreams flicker and fade.

Not only is this unjust, but new research shows that empowered women are often a family’s best hope to overcome poverty. They typically invest 90% of their income in the education and well-being of their families, as compared to only 30% or 40% among men. And as families succeed, so do communities. And as communities prosper, so do nations.

Ember Arts exists to rekindle the dreams of women in poverty. We build successful business ventures in partnership with these women and invest in their training and education, and they invest in their families and communities as only they can.

Every woman has a dream. And as more women around the world have the liberty and resources to pursue their dreams, more families, communities, and nations will prosper.

Every Woman has a Dream

Every Woman has a Dream — Ember Arts

Our good friends at Caava Design designed this poster for free, so that we could offer it as a gift to you. Click here or above to download the hi-res printable version.

Every woman has a dream — of personal success or building a family or lifelong adventure, or any combination of 1,000 goals. And today more women than ever have the liberty and resources to pursue their dreams.

But in places like Uganda where conflict and poverty limit opportunity, women’s dreams are often postponed and forgotten. Families invest their few resources in opportunities for boys and men, while girls are pulled out of school and women are confined to little more than domestic servitude. Over time their dreams flicker and fade.

Not only is this unjust, but new research shows that empowered women are often a family’s best hope to overcome poverty. They typically invest 90% of their income in the education and well-being of their families, as compared to only 30% or 40% among men. And as families succeed, so do communities. And as communities prosper, so do nations.

Ember Arts exists to rekindle the dreams of women in poverty. We build successful business ventures in partnership with these women and invest in their training and education, and they invest in their families and communities as only they can.

Every woman has a dream. And as more women around the world have the liberty and resources to pursue their dreams, more families, communities, and nations will prosper.

Summer Photo Contest – Win Ember and Sseko Products!

Ember Arts Summer Photo Contest

Today is the longest day of the year and the official start of Summer, and to kick it off right we’re teaming up with our good friends at Sseko Designs for an amazing Summer Photo Contest & Giveaway! Take a photo of one of your favorite things about summer (vacation, the beach, fireflies, you tell us!) and post it on the Ember Arts Facebook page (and/or on Sseko’s page), and then tell us all about it in the caption. We’ll choose our favorite photo one week from today, and the winner will get our Summer Prize Package: Ember’s Long Multicolor Necklace and Multicolor Ivy Bracelet, and a pair of Sseko sandals with your choice of straps!

Get your shutters snapping, and post your photos here!

Sub-Saharan Africa Booming, According to TechCrunch

According to Jon Evans on TechCrunch, sub-Saharan Africa is booming, thanks to high global commodity prices, Chinese investment, diaspora remittances, and the mobile phone revolution that finds rural farmers updating their Facebook profiles by text message. He quotes a McKinsey study that says, ““today the rate of return on foreign investment in Africa is higher than in any other developing region.”

Read the full article here.

Partner Dream Update: Agnes

Agnes has a Dream

Every woman has a dream. Ember Arts exists to rekindle the dreams of women in Poverty.

Agnes dreams of educating herself and her children, starting her own farm, and building her family a home. Thanks to our customers and retailers, she is well on her way. Her children are doing well in 2nd and 4th grades, she’s on the verge of finishing high school after nine years away, and just recently she bought land where she’ll soon be laying the foundation of a permanent home for her family.

Thank you for helping us make dreams come true.