We are continuing to move forward with our dreams by launching an Elevat Showroom! Please join us next Saturday the 8th and help make a difference by doing a portion of your Christmas shopping with Elevat this year.
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After first hearing Nid’s life story, I couldn’t seem to shake it. How different would I be if I had been forced to leave home at the age of 12 to make my way in the world? My daughter Cierra, who has lived in Thailand for 3 years now, introduced me to Nid’s daughter, Khem, on my first visit to Thailand. She was a bright, friendly High School student who spoke English well.
Cierra first met Nid when taking a long truck ride with Khem’s family to visit her home village in the northeast part of Thailand. The village was remote and rustic with no department or grocery stores at which to buy food, clothing or household goods. Most everything eaten was grown or raised locally, and most clothing was handmade. Cierra’s white skin was a novelty to those who gathered to meet this foreigner; several pinched and stroked her arm to see what skin that pale felt like.
Khem’s mother, Nid, grew up in this village, the oldest daughter of poor farmers. She went to school as a child, but at the tender and vulnerable age of 12, her family sent her to the city to earn money instead. She found work in a factory, earning just enough to send money home every month while still covering her own expenses. She continues to faithfully support her parents to this day, even after getting married and starting a family of her own. Nid eventually found work in a leather factory and became a skilled artisan. As time went on, she was proud to see Khem excel in school and become the first in her family to attend college. In 2016, however, Nid and her husband (who also worked in the leather factory) lost their jobs due to downsizing. Nid’s father became ill, and she was asked to return home to care for him. Always an obedient daughter, Nid returned to her home village.
Once Nid returned to her home village, there was no way to continue earning a living sufficient to pay for Khem’s education. Even so, she was determined to do so. It was at this point Khem remembered that Cierra’s mother worked with women artisans from developing countries. Khem asked Cierra if I might be interested in helping Nid sell her leather jewelry in the US. When I heard about the opportunity, I was thrilled, of course. This is exactly why Elevat exists; to help women bring their handmade products to the US marketplace. This past January, I brought Nid’s gorgeous leather bracelets back with me from Thailand. I hope you can recognize the beauty and strength in these bracelets, qualities imparted by their maker, Nid. I also hope you find strength in this story like I did. We are braver and stronger than we realize. These bracelets symbolize how women can reach out from miles away and give strength and endurance to one another. Please join me in celebrating this beautiful and strong woman who has risen to the challenges life has given her and seeks to impart better opportunities for her children than she was given.
I remember the exact moment Elevāt became reality. While riding in a car with my brother, Ben, I started sharing this crazy idea I had for helping ease poverty in some of the world’s poorest regions. Even as I shared, I knew it sounded far- fetched and impossible, so I readied myself for a reaction of awkward laughter or some “common sense” meant to bring me back to reality. Instead, Ben said, “That’s an awesome idea! I’d love to help you with that.” That was the moment Elevāt went from being a dream to becoming a reality. I’ll never be able to thank my brother enough for his initial response of encouragement and support. It’s simple, but powerful, this idea that regular, ordinary people can make a real difference.
In recent years, a lot of people have told me Elevāt is a great idea. They talk about how the concept of bringing handmade artisanal products from the developing world to the US marketplace is really cool. Still, the reality is, ideas don’t put food on the table of poor families or provide dignity to women wanting a better life than what’s offered on the streets. Elevāt would have remained nothing more than a “really cool” idea if many special and gifted people hadn’t joined the cause by volunteering their skills and resources to help make it possible. We are a 100% volunteer-run company, and I love each and every one who has given of themselves to make Elevāt a reality; photographers, designers, interns, models, and most importantly, customers! Whatever success Elevat enjoys is a testament to the power of good people doing good things for a good cause.
Every person matters. Every purchase matters. Small steps in the right direction take us where we want to be.
I can’t wait to join with all of you and celebrate five years of taking small steps in the right direction and making a difference. You are invited to this free event on August 5th at 10am featuring:
-Brunch with jazz music
-A fashion show highlighting the latest global fashion accessories
-Recognition and thanks to all those who have volunteered on behalf of Elevāt
-A clearance section of products to make room for new inventory
-10% off any purchase to those wearing an Elevāt item to the brunch
Whether you have been a part of Elevāt’s story or are interested in it’s future, come celebrate five years of dreams made reality.
August 5th, 10am-12pm
Address: 1081 21st Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Must RSVP to Elevat's Facebook event
Most of the day I fill every spare moment on a screen with information pouring in, wolfing down food, events and experiences in mindless abandon