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Market Colors is an online store and nonprofit organization. Our team collaborates with craftsmen in Africa and India to create handmade products that will sell well throughout the world. We exist to equip African men and women with a sustainable income, generated through the sale of their products.

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Product Development in Malawi

Lizzie Randazzo

by Lizzie Randazzo

This past March, I had the privilege of leading our Market Colors team to Malawi. In addition to doing general skills training, we worked with these sweet ladies to create new concept items together. I've been to Malawi many times over the last several years and I always love getting to introduce friends to the wonderful people in this beautiful country.

The products we worked on with the women are now available in our store! I’m so excited to share this video and give you a glimpse into all the wonderful things that happened while we were in Malawi.

The Next Frontier: India

Lizzie Randazzo

I’m constantly working to be in a position of surrender for Market Colors. Above all, I long for Market Colors to be the company that the Lord desires it to be. I’m continually trying to take steps forward boldly, trusting that the Lord will provide...

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DIY: Jewelry Tree

Taylor Williams

Finding a solution to organizing and displaying jewelry is always a challenge. A jewelry holder that is functional and adds design to a space is a definite win-win!! This DIY is a simple way to create just that.

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Shop In A Box: Let's Get This Party Started!

Jessica Porter

By: Jessica Porter

If you haven't already heard, Market Colors has just launched a new way for you to get involved! And it's called...Shop In A Box. It's a super fun way to have a little something extra at the next party you're hosting. Whether it's for your gal pal's b-day, a potluck at your office, or the next chapter meeting with your sorority, a Market Colors Shop In A Box is an innovative way to gather people together and do some shopping as well.

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Before we launched, I couldn't resist hosting a Shop in A Box event myself. I mean...any excuse to call my friends, cook some yummy food and throw a party right?! Market Colors just released their summer line and texting my girls about the new fabulous accessories just wasn't cutting it. I kept thinking, "Man, I want them to see everything close up! I want to see their faces when they try on jewelry!" And boom-lightbulb! By hosting a Shop In A Box event, I could do just that!

Ok, when I tell you guys that this was way too easy, I'm not exaggerating. The only thing stressing me out was deciding if I wanted to buy a fruit tray or a vegetable tray. (I went with the veggies...hummus was bogo.) But for real! I already had my box with all the sample products ready to go. I set up a little table out on my patio, threw a blanket over some shoeboxes and baskets and just laid out all the products. SO SIMPLE!

My girls arrived, we caught up for a bit about life and whatnot, filled up our plates with snacks and sat down to watch the Market Colors video. I loved sharing this with them before they started shopping because it made looking at, and interacting with the pieces so much more impactful. 

I propped up my mirror outside so we could try things on, see how they looked, get some opinions etc. 

I had SO much fun hosting this Shop In A Box! It was a new way to share Market Colors with my friends and a fresh way to bring everyone together. If you're interested in hosting your own Market Colors Shop In A Box click the link, or look under the connect tab above. Seriously, you don't want to miss out on this kind of party.

DIY Watercolor Greeting Cards

Corinne Enright

by Cora Enright

Handmade cards can be some of the cutest things in the world to give and receive, but they also can seem intimidating when it comes to making them on your own. This colorful DIY is easy-as-can-be and results in a soft and simple card that's great for any type of message you want to send. 

What you will need:

Watercolor Paper

Watercolors & Water (these can be as cheap or expensive as you want, mine were the cheapest ones I could find at the craft store)

A paintbrush

A ruler

Scissors

A pencil

Step 1: I started by creating my blank card first. I used a ruler and a pencil to map out my dimensions and trace the outline. I then used my scissors carefully for a clean cut of my outline. After cutting it, I folded the paper in half and used my ruler to flatten the crease. 

Step 2: Now onto the fun part, the painting! You might want to set a surface by putting some scrap paper or paper towels down before you paint onto the card. I started out by taking my paint brush and some water and painting over the front surface of the card. This is going to allow for the gradient watercolor affect when you are painting. After that, I took my choice of color and set the paint onto the desired area of my card. I used different tilting methods to create various affects so that all of my cards were unique. 

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Step 3: After you let your card dry completely, write a message on the inside and pair with an envelope for the perfect way to send a note to a loved one!

If you make these yourself, make sure to show us on social media by tagging @marketcolors! Happy crafting!

 

DIY: Flower Crown

Cece Willis

It’s officially the summer! Which is the perfect time for music festivals, photo ops, and special occasions. Flower crowns are so pretty and such a great accessory...

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DIY: Summer Hair Ties

Taylor Williams

This super easy DIY is so great for the upcoming summer months. Fabric hair ties are perfect for gently styling up your hair, and also look great on your wrist. I am always wearing one of these soft stretchy ties on my arm or in my hair, but it usually takes me a while to find a tie that is the perfect color, size, and thickness for my hair. Making your own is such a great solution! You choose the fabric-elastic, color, and pattern...creating something so bright and simple that will definitely come in handy during the upcoming summer months!

 

Supplies:

Ruler

Fabric scissor

Spray bottle

Fabric elastic (usually in the fabric department of any craft store)

Fabric dye

Water

Parchment paper

Rubber bands

1) First things first, you want to mix your dye. To be sure you won’t stain your work surface, lay down parchment paper. Choose any color dye and simply follow the instructions on the bottle. I like using liquid dye because it removes a lot of the measuring and mixing process.

Mix your dye directly in a small spray bottle. This will make applying the dye to your hair ties much easier.

 

2) Cut your elastic to a size that will perfectly fit your wrist and work for your thickness of hair. I cut mine at about 9 in. To make sure you get a clean cut, use fabric scissors.

3) As soon as your elastic is cut, fold it in half. Tie a tight small knot at the top, trying to get as close to the top as possible while leaving just a little excess elastic that will stick out from the knot.

 

4) Now comes the best part! I wanted to create a tie-dye look on my hair ties, so I wrapped small rubber bands around my fabric to create a pattern. If you wanted to create a solid look, simply spray the dye all over the hair tie, inside and out. 

 

5) Lay your ties down on the parchment paper and mist the hair ties with the color using your spray bottle. You can spray on the dye as thick or thin as you would like, depending how dark you want the color to be. Be sure and get all sides of the hair tie. 

6) Now that your tie has been sprayed with dye (and it is probably all over your hands!) leave them to soak up all the color and dry slightly- usually a couple hours. The longer you let the hair ties sit, the more depth the color will have.

7) After the hair ties have sat out for a while, rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear and remove the rubber bands. Let the ties air dry.

Once dry, the hair ties are ready to be worn! Share them with friends and style them alongside your favorite Market Colors Stackables!

Happy Summer!

Taylor

3 Reasons to Stop Worrying and Go For It

Lizzie Randazzo

by Robyn Batts

There are a million reasons why you shouldn't go after your dreams and passions, but here are three reasons why you should.

1. It's not too late.

I know it seems like every great musician was a proficient guitarist by the age of 8, and most Olympians pretty much start training in preschool. It's not too late for you though. You haven't missed your chance! If you have found something that excites you and brings you to life, it doesn't matter if you're 5 or 75, it's worth doing. There is no substitute for hard work and dedication, but don't pass up the opportunity to use those skills because of your age.

2. Fear is not your leader!

It might feel like it sometimes, but it's not. I'm not going to lie. There are a thousand things that could go wrong, and everything might not work out the way you hoped it would. But what if it does?!  Every great path involves risk, but if you let fear and worry dictate your steps, you'll never open yourself up to opportunity.

3. You're good enough.

Everyone feels like they're not at some point. It's part of being human. But can you imagine what the world would be like if all those who thought they weren't good enough never went for it? I'd venture to say we might still be riding around in horse-and-buggies with a real shortage of good pop music. Know that there will be challenges in life, but you are capable of taking them on, growing through them, and doing something awesome. You're the only you available to the world, so don't let the rest of us miss out on what you have to offer!

Spring Cleaning for the Minimalist in You

Lizzie Randazzo

by Robyn Batts

Spring is a lovely time of year. It signifies a fresh start, and shines a new light on the beautiful things in life. Sometimes, there's just too much clutter built up to see clearly though. Here are a few ways to conduct a cleanup that will leave you feeling rejuvenated internally and externally. 

1.     Cleanin' Out Your Closet

With all the Christmas gift cards and "this weekend only" sales, you've likely accumulated quite a wardrobe over the past several months. If you're anything like me, you've purchased some things that have barely seen the light of day. Go ahead and sift through your closet, removing items you haven't worn in a while. If you have trouble deciding on a specific item, give it a deadline. If you haven't worn it by that date, go ahead and get rid of it! Minimizing your wardrobe will help you feel less overwhelmed, and will guide you toward purchasing items you really love in the future.

2. Fresh Feng Shui

Sometimes, taking what you already have and looking at it in a new way is all you need to freshen things up. Try rearranging your bedroom or living room in a way that feels less cluttered and more open. Too many knick knacks around? Sift through and pick a few items you love to keep the vibes going. You'll feel much more refreshed in a simpler version of the place you already call home.

3. Detox Your Schedule 

The older I get, the more I feel like my schedule is running my life. Yet as much as I hate that feeling, I keep piling on more and more until every free moment is filled and sleep has become an afterthought. (Anyone out there know what I'm talking about?) Here's an idea. Take a look at your schedule and reevaluate where your time is spent. Remove the things that exhaust and take the life out of you. What are the non-negotiables? If yoga on Tuesdays after work keeps you sane, make that a priority! If you need time with friends to feed your extroverted appetite, choose a couple events to attend. Remember that you control your schedule. You don't have to say yes to everything. By freeing up more time in your schedule, you won't feel as worn down and will actually get to reallocate that time toward rest and other things that give you life.

4. Detox Your Kitchen

Are there things you don't want to reach for anymore? Then, get them out of reach! I for one know how little self-discipline I can have when that pan of brownies or bag of chips is constantly around. Simplifying your diet for a bit, and eating more organically can help you feel tons better. Try keeping only the freshest of things in your kitchen for a bit, and become a junk food minimalist. Chances are, you'll have more energy, and more self-control in the future.

5. Focus on a Few

Leisure time is the buried treasure of adulthood. Sometimes the multitude of amazing Netflix options and long list of books to read can actually make your downtime feel overwhelming. Sift through your lists and focus on one or two things at a time. Having too many things too invest in can make you feel crazy, but walking through one story at a time can be just the healthy distraction you need to escape for a little bit.

DIY: Natural Easter Egg Dyeing

Sarah Miller

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Easter has always been one of my favorite times of year, but that might have something to do with all the pretty pastel candy around! While dyeing Easter eggs has always been a family tradition, we’ve never used anything other than the fun tablets that dissolve in vinegar and water. Those little tablets will always have a special place in my heart, but I’ve always wanted to try to dye eggs without our friends Red no. 5 and Blue no. 6.

You will need:
Plain white eggs, at least one dozen
White vinegar
Cups/mugs for dyeing
Measuring spoons
Measuring cups
Saucepan(s)
Strainer
Yellow onion skins
Red onion skins
Black coffee
Frozen blueberries
Beets
Turmeric

 

Step 1: Assemble and Prep. After getting everything you need, cover your work area if necessary (Turmeric and beet STAIN). The general ration I used was two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar combined with the dyeing agent.  I used the skin of four smaller yellow onions, and three bigger red onions, one tablespoon of turmeric, a half cup of frozen blueberries, and two beets. I brewed the coffee as normal, or you could use two tablespoons ground coffee and follow the steps below.

 

 
 

Step 2: Boil your eggs. I put my dozen eggs in the saucepan with enough water to cover, and heated on high heat until boiling. After they were boiling I turned off the heat and covered them, but left them on the burner for 11 minutes. After eleven minutes I put the pan in the sink and started running cold water over the eggs to cool them.

 

 
 

Step 3: Creating the dyes. I mixed the water, vinegar and dyeing agent in a saucepan (stainless steel is best) over high heat until it was boiling. I let it boil for about five minutes for the onion skins, but the beets and turmeric didn’t need as long. Once the water is a bright color, strain the liquid into a small bowl or mug, and throw out the solids.

 
 


Step 4: Dyeing the eggs. My first round I left all the eggs in the liquids for about 30 minutes (natural dyes take longer). After pulling them out, I realized that the coffee and blueberries weren’t very vibrant. I was fine with the coffee, but the blueberry egg had barely changed. I decided to repeat the process of creating the blueberry dye, but I boiled the two eggs right in the water with the blueberries. This provided a darker blue that I was happy with.

inal Thoughts: I think that if I were to repeat the process I'd probably try boiling some of the eggs in with the dye. I think it might produce other colors. I'd also love to try dyeing with red cabbage, dill, or Red Zinger tea. 

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DIY: Tassel Earrings

Sarah Miller

 
 

It’s the middle of March, the birds are starting to sing, and the sun is staying out longer and longer. This can only mean one thing-it’s time to update your spring wardrobe. If you’re looking for a fun and customizable accessory, add a pair of these tassel earrings to your life!

 

You will need:

Embroidery thread (floss)

Scissors

Credit card

Earring wires

Clear nail polish or jewelry glue

Step 1:

Choose the color of your tassel, and the color of your wrap. You can use the same color for both, or you can choose a contrasting or metallic thread to use like I did. (A word of advice-if you choose metallic embroidery floss, be prepared to be frustrated by it’s unwillingness to stay together, or to generally do what you want) Cut about 4-5 inches of your chosen wrap thread and lay aside for wrapping, and cut 3-4 inches of the wrap colors to use as a connector.

Step 2:

 Fig. 1

Fig. 1

 Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Hold the edge of the thread at the bottom of the card (Fig.1) and wrap it around the card 18 times, ending at the bottom. Continue holding both edges of the thread on the card as you cut off the excess (Fig. 2).

Step 3:

 
 FIg. 3

FIg. 3

 

Bend the card slightly, and grab the piece of connecting thread(3-4 inches). Slide the thread underneath all the wrapped layers until it’s about halfway through (Fig. 3) grasp both end of the connecting thread, bring it to the top of the card, and tie it off with a knot.

Step 4:

 Fig. 4

Fig. 4

 Fig. 5

Fig. 5

Slide the thread off of the end of the credit card. Grab your piece of wrapping thread. Use your left hand to hold the start of the wrapping thread against your tassel (Fig. 4). Take your right hand and start wrapping around the tassel. Make sure to cover the start of the wrapping thread so that you don’t have to hold it anymore (Fig. 5).

Step 5:

 
 Fig. 6

Fig. 6

 

Once you’ve wrapped all of the thread, glue it down to the tassel using your clear nail polish or jewelry glue (Fig. 6). If you’re using metallic thread, you’re going to need the jewelry glue and a fair bit of patience. Make sure each strand of the thread is firmly secured, and let dry if necessary.

Step 6:

 
 Fig. 7

Fig. 7

 

At the end opposite the connector thread, slide your scissors in the loop. Pulling slightly, cut through the loop (Fig. 7). Fluff and separate the ends of the thread as you like.

Step 7:

 
 Fig. 8

Fig. 8

 

Using your connector thread, tie the tassel onto the loop of the earring wire. Use a double knot to secure. Trim ends securely and enjoy!

Alterations:

 
 

If you want smaller tassels, cut a piece of thin cardboard or cardstock to the size desired, then follow steps as written.

 
 


If you want to have tassels that are all the same color, use the embroidery thread for your wrapping and connecting pieces as well.

 
 

MC in Malawi: The Warm Heart of Africa

Robyn Batts

 

By Jessica Porter

Hello from Malawi! While prepping for this trip I was told Malawi is also called “The Warm Heart of Africa.” I had an idea in my head of what that might actually look like but experiencing it first hand was a whole other story. To say the people here are welcoming is an understatement. They look at you with love in their eyes and always greet you with true sincerity. Every encounter with one of the nationals feels like a demonstration of God’s gentleness and kindness.

 

Our trip is a unique one because Market Colors is here partnering with the Widows Program of Children of the Nations to create new products and further enhance the skills of the widows. We are working on about 9 different products and we’ve been split into groups to better focus on specific products with the widows. My group is in charge of leading instruction for the laptop case and tote bag. Teaching the skills it takes to make these products to the widows is truly inspiring. They observe intently and are extremely eager to dive in and start working on the product themselves. It’s been really moving to witness their sense of community as they work. It’s an “all hands on deck” sort of situation. One woman will measure while another marks the fabric, then another woman will jump in with the scissors to begin cutting, and yet another will reach out to take the lead on sewing. They work together as one, all huddled together over one stretch of fabric or one sewing machine. 

 

I had a really special moment after I had shown them a particular skill with the laptop case and I was able to hand over the task to them. As they worked I took a second to look around and realize: I wasn’t an outsider, I was sitting in this circle with them, pouring over the same task and working toward the same goal. They had invited me to be a part of their precious community. It was the most beautiful and peaceful moment for me. 

 

There have been so many amazing moments on this trip so far. Overall, each one is covered with joy. There is joy in their singing and celebrating as well as in their working. I’ve been so inspired by these women and encouraged by this trip and by how God is moving here in Malawi. I’m so honored that He has blessed me with some time here in “The Warm Heart of Africa.” 

 

MC In Malawi: Preparing For Departure

Lizzie Randazzo

by Lizzie Randazzo

I remember when I was just a few days out from my first trip to Africa in 2010. I was terrified and overwhelmed by the unknown. I didn’t personally know anyone on my team and I had trouble picturing anything past the airport. I remember telling family members that this might be my last big mission trip because I felt so nervous about going and had no idea what to expect. Now, I want to whisper to my then-20-year-old self, “You have no idea what the Lord has in store for you! This is literally just the very beginning.” I also like to imagine the Lord watching over me, knowing what was going to come from that first trip. The Lord’s plans were and still are so much bigger and greater than my own.

Today, with just a few days before another big trip to Malawi, I’m full of joy and excitement at all the Lord will do through my team of twelve. This is our first time taking team members with us on a Market Colors trip! In this time of preparation, I can’t help but compare the Lizzie I am now to the younger (in many ways) version of myself. When I reflect on that, I know the Lord will do far more through this trip than I have planned.

While we’re in Malawi, we’ll be working with a group of about thirty women who are part of a group called The Widow’s Program. I actually met these women on my first-ever day in Africa, and they are the group that inspired Market Colors a few years later. The Widows are so talented and have made beautiful products for us in the past. As our site, style, and design have progressed, it became clear to me that this group will need our partnership to be more hand-on during this transition. Our partnership and model of sustainability has the opportunity to greatly impact this group in a very unique way because they live in extreme poverty. I believe that through this trip, the Widows will be set up to receive more orders from us, increasing their revenue stream. Market Colors exists to do whatever we can to create sustainability for impoverished craftsmen throughout the world. In this case, our design trip is what is needed. My team has been working hard on concept items, brushing up on sewing skills, and doing whatever has been asked of them to be as well-prepared as possible.

When I think back on my story and my first trip to Malawi not so long ago, I remember the words from Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” I am so honored to play a small role in the work the Lord is doing throughout the world.

Please follow along with our trip through Instagram and keep an eye on the hashtag #mcinmalawi!

Make it Happen! Interview with Lara Casey

Sarah Miller

by Sarah Miller

 
 Photo by Gina Zeidler

Photo by Gina Zeidler

Whether it’s starting your own business, tackling a degree, or changing the way you approach life, taking that first step is HARD. You can feel surround by worries, self-doubt, the need to “get it right”, and live a life that looks good on Instagram. Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose was a book written for women who are looking to start living out their dreams. Women who want to stop chasing perfection. Women who want to embrace a life of intention. Women like YOU.

Lara, an author/motivational speaker/publisher of Southern Weddings/wife/mama/gardener extraordinaire, published Make it Happen in December 2014. Full of stories about her struggles, her joys, and her journey with the Lord, Make it Happen is a must-read. It’s the perfect combination of encouragement and personal accountability, like having your best friend talking to you. Lara has you take a long hard look at what’s holding you back, and then helps you tackle it step-by-step.  We asked Lara a few questions about herself, her book, and her journey (and pie, because who doesn’t love pie?).

MC: Why did you write Make it Happen?

Lara: I started the Making Things Happen conference seven years ago after being inundated with requests for business consulting and coaching advice. At first, it was a way to meet a great need I saw in the creative industry to help others make things happen. Over the years, as my own heart and life have been changed, it has grown into far more. Now, the goal is to encourage people to make what matters happen. That may not mean “big” dreams in the traditional sense, but rather chasing after what lasts longer than us. We’ve now done the workshop more than 45 times and seen thousands of fears met, leaps of faith taken and new paths paved. The book, Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live On Purpose, was born out of the many stories women have shared with me over the years. I wanted a way to hand women a collection of lessons I’ve learned from the many brave women I’ve encountered. Thomas Nelson publishers approached me about writing the book after they came across my yearly goal-setting series that I run on my blog. The goal for the book and conference is the same: help women live on purpose, using all the gifts they’ve been given to the fullest — in work, motherhood, marriage and in their communities.

 

MC: What was the most difficult part of the book to write?

Lara: All of it. I imagine that writing about gardening or bees might be easier to tackle than writing about one's failures. But, I am so grateful! Writing these pages was a refining experience. It made me draw closer to God, seek His wisdom, and wrestle with a lot of past pain and shame. Like most of the very best things in life, they can often come out of struggle and challenge. Every moment of challenge in writing was worth it!

 

MC: What’s your favorite part of the book?

Lara: Writing about my miscarriage was a gift, because it helped me heal and remember that God is good and, even when you can't see it, He is at work. After winter, always comes spring.

 

MC: What’s your favorite verse?

Lara: ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (James 1:5 NIV). This has been a key verse for me this year as I keep seeking Him and what He wants me to do with my minutes each day. Every time I go to Him for wisdom and direction, He delivers on this promise when I listen with all of me!

 

MC: Who do you go to for support and encouragement?

Lara: To the Bible, to prayer, to my amazing friends and church family, and to the arms of my husband. He’s pretty wonderful!

 

MC: What’s next for you?

Lara: We are expecting (I'm due in July) and also adopting this year. So, what's ahead is likely a lot of surrender and letting go of control. We are excited and grateful! I'm also in the process of writing my second book.

 

MC: What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Lara: Well, I'm pregnant and having a boy. When I was pregnant with Grace, I craved nothing but salad and fruit. This time around I want pizza, meat, and I could say yes to just about any kind of pie. My favorites are pecan, sweet potato, and lemon ice box pie!