Since I launched the Market Colors online store in 2012, we've had anywhere from two to six interns each semester. These girls (guys, despite popular belief, you ARE welcome to apply too!) have done so much to...Read More
Filtering by Tag: Inside MC
I love reading “What’s in My Beach Bag?” posts! And since it’s summer and I’m in the sunny state of Florida, I thought I’d write my own version. I am always drawn to these posts and...Read More
Fro-yo, Fish Bowl, and Free Willy. Here are just a few words to explain our time in Cocoa Beach. Last week the Market Colors team enjoyed two days off to relax and bond as a team. Lizzie, Robyn, Erin, and I...Read More
We’re kicking the New Year off with three brand new interns! Each intern is equipped with unique qualities that will continue to help Market Colors grow. We’re so excited to have them on our team and we’re excited for you to meet them!Read More
The Market Colors office resides upstairs within Summit Church, above all the goings-on below of people in the lobby and sanctuary. Since the church used to be an old movie theater, there is definitely an abundance of space upstairs.
by Robyn Batts
We officially made it to our third and final destination on Wednesday. I keep thinking there is no way each place will compare to the last, but I have loved each country we've visited in a new and unique way.
Due to a recent fire in the Nairobi airport, we had to go through an interesting series of tents to claim our bags and obtain our visas. Instead of the usual baggage carousel, all bags were lined up under one tent, and we were let loose to find our things. With speed, agility, and teamwork, Marco, Lizzie, and I gathered them all in record time...or something close to that.
We were greeted by the wonderful Matlacks, a missionary family who are hosting us here in Kenya. They made our first stop count with the sampling of some traditional Kenyan foods. A stretchy, fried, delicious tortilla called chapati is my favorite! I’ve already had it several times.
In the last few days, we’ve met with two of the incredible groups we partner with in Nairobi. Thursday, we visited Amani Ya Juu. Amani is an organization that not only equips refugee women with the skills to make incredible products, but also provides them with a supportive community for fellowship and spiritual growth. We were greeted by Maggie, who might just be the most joyful person I have ever met. She continually told us, “This is your home!” throughout the day, and it really did feel that way. We were able to meet and speak with several women, and see the impact that Amani is making in their lives. We love our partnership with this group of highly skilled women.
Yesterday started off with a trip to a baby elephant orphanage. I'm not kidding! It was so fun to get close and interact with these sweet babies who were rescued from the wild after their families had been killed. We even got to see some warthogs and gazelles in the distance. It was a very "Lion King moment" for all of us.
Afterward, we visited with Beacon of Hope, an organization that trains and provides work for men and women with HIV/AIDS. We were given a full tour of their facility, which includes a hospital and HIV testing center, school for children of the craftsmen, and production center, where all the beautiful products are made. It was amazing to see the great work being done by these dedicated individuals.
It has been such a blessing for me to meet these people firsthand and hear their stories. I am getting more and more re-energized for the vision of Market Colors and the future of these partnerships. God is doing incredible things and I am honored to play a small part in what He has planned. We have officially placed our Christmas orders at Amani and Beacon of Hope, so be on the lookout for new and exciting products in the next few months!
When I planned this trip, I decided to cram as much as possible into our two weeks overseas and make the most of our time. Because of that, I chose to go to Ethiopia, even though it would only be for 36 hours. I felt like we needed to see one of our craftsmen communities, Salem's Designs. They make many of the scarves we sell. Our time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has been great. The city has a beautiful landscape, lively traffic, welcoming people, good weather, and amazing food. I love this country!
We were greeted at the airport by our host, Salem. You may have read her name before on one of our craftsman cards. Salem is the owner of Salem's Designs, a company that works with artisans throughout the area of Addis Ababa who make woven products, baskets, and jewelry. Salem's passion is to give jobs to many people within the city. Currently, she employs over 80 people. I love that one of the goals of Salem's Designs is to show the rich culture of Ethiopia through beautiful works of art.
We spent a good part of our day with the textile and basket weavers. These men and women were so happy to see us, and we were able to personally meet the craftsmen that have created many Market Colors scarves. We also spent some time shopping and thinking through new ideas for the upcoming seasons. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but I'm excited about all the possibilities.
Last night, we had the opportunity to meet up with a team from our home church in Orlando, Summit Church. Their team of five was traveling through Addis Ababa at the same time, so we broke bread together over a traditional Ethiopian meal. We're headed to Kenya tomorrow with very full and happy stomachs and hearts.
Off to Nairobi!
by Lizzie Wirgau
After two very long days of travel, we made it to Malawi. This beautiful country is incredibly special to me. My first trip to Africa was to Malawi, and this is where I initially felt the call on my heart to work with those in Africa.
We had the best greeting at the airport! The beautiful COTN Widows greeted us as we approached the baggage claim area. Not only were they singing and dancing, but they were wearing Market Colors labels on their shirts. As soon as they saw us, they wrapped us up in chitenjis. A chitenjis is a piece of fabric used for everything...baby carrier, head wrap, and for us, a skirt wrap.
From the airport, we traveled to the Widows Program facility, where the children in the village had organized a welcome program for us. The performances ranged from the little ones reciting the alphabet to the older boys doing a choreographed dance to the drums.
My first time in the village on every trip I take is always so special. There’s something about finally being in the village that makes me feel like I’m picking up right where I left off.
The next day, we spent most of our time talking with the women we work with. We visited their homes, met their children, and heard so many stories, many filled with huge difficulties. These stories are so hard to hear. I often find myself sinking into the feeling that none of this is fair. And it’s true. I feel so blessed materially. However, these women have been able to see God show up in huge ways in their life. These stories of hardship are still bursting with hope and faith in Christ.
The ladies told me that the COTN Widows program has transformed their lives. They also told me that Market Colors is truly making a huge impact in their community. I was so grateful to hear that. Several women shared with me that now they have enough money to open a bank account...the first form of savings and debit usage they have ever had. What an amazing sign that Market Colors is doing what we set out to do!
Today we landed in Ethiopia, where we will visit with more craftsmen and explore their beautiful country. Visit our Instagram for pictures from our journey so far!
by Lizzie Wirgau Since my first trip to Africa when I was twenty, I’ve seen myself grow up in many ways while I’ve been overseas. I’m not sure if this growth has come from just being in Africa or simply from being so far removed from everyday life. I’ve visited Africa in the midst of many personal life events: changing my career path, the death of a good friend and, most recently, having this crazy idea to start Market Colors. Each time, I’ve come back with a greater understanding of my life circumstances. The 10-16 days I’m typically there allow me to be removed from distractions and really focus on where my life is. It lets me think about why things are the way they are and what God is doing through these situations. Great clarity is gained through these times. Having distance, literally and figuratively, between me and my daily life gives me perspective, but it also gives God the opportunity to work.
We will be in Africa for two weeks, August 21-September 5. Throughout those two weeks, I would love for you to join us in removing some distractions from your life. Together, let’s commit to take the next two weeks and put some distance between us and the things in our lives that cause distraction. For some, it may mean taking a hiatus from Facebook. For others, it might mean spending time with God each morning before logging in to your e-mail or checking Instagram. The goal is to create some silence and stillness within your soul. It’s in this place that you’ll be able to hear God in a way we can’t experience when we’re distracted by the things of this world. Think of it as a type of retreat.
Please be praying for our team. Robyn, Marco, and I will be traveling to Malawi, Ethiopia, and Kenya to visit with six groups of our craftsmen. We will be spending time with them, growing our relationships and partnerships. We will be capturing their stories through video with eagerness to share them with you. We will also be praying about what God is calling Market Colors to do during the next five years.
You can stay updated on our trip through all our social media outlets. A great way to get a glimpse of what we’re doing is by following us on Instagram where we’ll post pictures whenever we’re able. I’ll talk to you from Africa!
by Emily Thornhill
With Lizzie and some of the Market Colors team about to embark on a trip to visit some of our craftsmen in Africa next week, we're excited to introduce you to another member of the Blue Door craftsmen team.
Who: Beatrice Where: Gulu, Uganda With: Blue Door
Taking a trip back to Gulu, Uganda, we have met two women with SOVCO’s Blue Door project, Stella and Lilly. Today, I want you to meet another lovely woman who is incredibly passionate about what Blue Door is doing to help families earn a sustainable income. This is Beatrice. At 38 years old, she is mother to three-year-old twins. She also supports two children without parents to provide for them. She and her husband, Ojek Premas, work in multiple fields to support their family. Trained in tailoring, Beatrice is also a peasant farmer and a bead maker. She began with Blue Door as treasurer and bead maker in November of 2011 when the program started. Beatrice desires that her bead making will allow her to provide education, health care, and other living needs for all of her children. Through Blue Door, Beatrice wants to expand her bead making skills through more training. We love that Beatrice is so enthusiastic and passionate about her work with Blue Door. She has taken an opportunity that God has presented her with and embraced it wholeheartedly.
When you buy the gorgeous peachy CARDONE Blush Bracelet and Blush Necklace (now back in stock!), you support the women of Blue Door. By purchasing these beautiful and well-made pieces of jewelry, you make a difference in a family’s life.
Last time, you met Stella with Blue Door, one of Market Colors’ partners in Africa, located in the Gulu district of northern Uganda. The women who work at Blue Door are very skilled at bead making and Blue Door gives them a source of sustainable income and a source of hope.
Who: Lilly Where: Gulu, Uganda With: Blue Door
For Lilly, Blue Door means so much. As a 30-year-old unmarried mother of four children, she also cares for six other children. She is a peasant farmer in Gulu, and she began bead making with the Blue Door project when it started in November of 2011. Lilly enjoys bead making more than gardening. The extra income she earns at Blue Door allows this optimistic lady to support her family better than when she was only doing agricultural activities. Lilly’s joy lies in prayer and the care of her ten children as she raises them up in her supportive community. I am inspired by Lilly's strength and determination as a mother; even though six of these children are not her own, she treats them as family.
When you buy the gorgeous peachy CARDONE Blush Bracelet and Blush Necklace, you support the women of Blue Door. This product was partially funded by CARDONE Industries. By purchasing these products, you provide families like Lilly’s with a source of sustainable income.
Who: StellaWhere: Gulu, Uganda With: Blue Door (Women of Hope Art and Craft Project)
In the Gulu district of northern Uganda, a small group of women gather to make beads. In November of 2011, Support the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Organization (SOVCO) began a community bead making project called Blue Door. Blue Door trains women in a craft, gives them an opportunity to better support their families, and provides them with godly fellowship. Extra income helps women provide their families with necessities like education, health, and clothing.
I would like you to meet Stella. She is chairperson for the Blue Door Project, and so grateful for the extra income that she receives through bead making. At 45 years old, she a mother of five children and the caretaker of two orphans. Despite their difficult financial situation, Stella and her husband, Banya John Kenedy, use what resources they have to help others in need. They are peasant farmers, and bead making gives their family another source of income. Stella has been with the Blue Door project since it started in 2011. She explains that the women of Blue Door “are still struggling to be the most wonderful beads makers to compete with other beads makers.” They strive for quality in their work, and it is clearly apparent in their jewelry. In addition to her craft, Stella enjoys praying, volunteering, and sharing ideas with others. God has provided a source of income for this compassionate lady in a wonderful, uplifting environment. Her heart is full of God’s joy as she embraces the opportunities He has given her through Blue Door.
When you buy the gorgeous peachy beaded CARDONE Blush Bracelet and Blush Necklace, you support the women of Blue Door. This product was partially funded by CARDONE Industries who re-manufactures auto parts to make them look and perform as if they were new, similar to how this bracelet was made from recycled pieces of paper. By purchasing these products, you provide women like Stella with a source of sustainable income.
Come back to the Market Colors blog in the future to read about more craftsmen who are impacted by your purchases!
by Robyn Batts
Before I started interning at Market Colors in November, I was in a confusing state of endless options and indecision. I remember my dear friend Lizzie approaching me with the idea of an internship with the organization in whatever capacity I was able to commit to. I told her I wasn't sure how much I could take on but definitely wanted to help and learn more about what she was doing. For me, I knew I wouldn't be able to feel great about whatever role I might have until I knew all there was to know. So I asked her if we could meet and discuss the history and vision. She invited me to coffee and we sat at a tiny table and I asked an obnoxious amount of questions until I felt like I would be able to explain Market Colors to a stranger who had never heard of Africa or nonprofits. As I left that meeting, I felt my heart beat faster and something clicked. For the past few years I've felt incredibly drawn to the idea of nonprofit work. Although I didn't have a specific passion as some people do, I knew I wanted to use the skills I had acquired for a greater cause and Market Colors has given me a way to do that.
Fast forward seven months and here I am! My internship role has evolved into a Sales Coordinator position in which I get to interact and help our wonderful customers, manage our order shipments and work with churches and stores who would like to sell our products. (If that's you, email me for more info.) I have been able to see so much growth--in the organization and myself--in just the short time I've been here and am so blessed to be a part of Lizzie's incredible vision. I'm amazed at the things I've learned and the opportunities I have been given through this place (especially the fact that I'll be going to Africa for the first time this fall!) Amazing things are happening at Market Colors and I'm so honored to be a part of it.
Just to give you a little glimpse into the real Robyn Batts, here are a few details about myself:
Favorite Candy: Cookies & Cream Bar or Almond Joy
Weirdest Talent: I can do strangely accurate impressions of a monkey & a newborn baby. Don't ask me how I figured this out.
Celebrities most often mistaken for: Kristen Wiig (personality/physicality) Reese Witherspoon (appearance)
Favorite TV Shows: I have a sad amount that I love but my all time favorites are The Cosby Show and Downton Abbey. (It would be awesome if there was a spinoff show where the Huxtables moved to Downton, right? Episode 1: Rudy's Dowry) Also, I'm currently finishing season 4 of Friday Night Lights and I'm definitely hooked.
Other Favorite Job: I get to spend two days a week with two of the cutest kids in the world, Janie (3) and Finn (2). They are hilarious, have impressive fashion sense and are so much fun. (Follow me on Instagram for photos: @robynthebird)
Favorite thing about working at MC: Besides supporting our amazing craftsmen I love meeting with our Product Development Team to discuss each season's concepts. Also, sharing an office with Lizzie is really fun guys--lots of yummy candles, spontaneous dance parties and accidentally scaring each other coming around the corner. (Sometimes it's so bad one of us falls on the ground.) Our most common phrase: "Remember, I work here too?"
To contact Robyn about how you can sell Market Colors products or to see if she'll do one of her impressions of a monkey or baby for you email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Aubrey Gard Recently, the Market Colors team hit the road and got in touch with our adventurous side on our first camping trip! We believe that each of us contributes something unique to this team, and the Lord blessed our time together by letting us get to know each other and revealing ways in which we can serve each other.
Although we packed our cars to the brim with things to sustain us, God had so much more in store for us as we finally reached Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. Some of us set up the tents, while Allee and Lizzie began the process of starting our first fire so we could prepare our hotdogs, as well as veggie burgers for Beverly and Grace.
After dinner, we took a short walk to the beach, just in time for the sunset. We spent time at the water, taking photos and making videos. The walk back to the camp site led us up a dock that ironically looked like Africa! Lizzie then shared with us how important her relationship with the Lord is to her, and about some of the personal difficulties she faced when starting Market Colors. Some of those difficulties made her feel inadequate. Lizzie shared that God says we are all worthy and able and that this truth can diminish our inadequacies. S’mores came next, and we talked and laughed until we couldn’t sit up anymore and made our way to our tents for the night.
In the morning, we made breakfast burritos and ate while Robyn led us in a devotional, followed by an hour of quiet time. We all were able to share our struggles, plus God’s redemptive truths with each other. Then we headed for the beach with watermelon and snacks, and spent several hours lounging in the sun. We were sad when it was time to pack up and go home, but grateful for the time the Lord provided for us. We were so happy to have had the time away from the office to learn about each other and make memories. If only we could take a Market Colors retreat every weekend!
Hosting a home party is a fun and simple way to get involved with Market Colors and share our vision with your friends! You will be able to showcase Market Colors products, giving your guests the opportunity to purchase them that day. You may want to have a home party as an extension of your birthday party or holiday party, or even as a mother/daughter event. We will equip you with a number of great resources to help you become familiar with Market Colors but you can be as creative as you wish with your party planning.
After your party, you will be able to choose one of our beautiful, handmade products for yourself, which will be our gift to you for hosting a Market Colors home party.
For more info, please email us at email@example.com.
by Grace Ingram
Things are rolling along here at Market Colors this week as we prepare for our benefit show this Friday night. With so much to do it continues to be a blessing to have this team of hardworking women interning with us this summer. Last week we got to introduce you to two of our new team members, Aubrey and Kaylee, and today you get to meet Jessica and Allee.
Jessica graduated in May from the University of South Florida where she studied Relational and Mass Communication. While looking for career opportunities, she stumbled upon Market Colors through a friend's Facebook page. Immediately, she fell in love with the purpose and aim of Market Colors. Although she has never traveled to Africa, she has a heart for the nations and was extremely excited to work with an organization that invests so well in African countries. Jessica is interested in how social media can be a tool that helps equip African craftsmen. As a social media intern, Jessica will help communicate and promote the ideas of Market Colors by means of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In her free time, Jessica enjoys finding new places to eat, spending time with friends and using her Eno (awesome hammock) to relax outside in the trees.
Allee is from Woodstock, Georgia and just graduated from Florida Southern College. She received her bachelors degree in Advertising and Public Relations with a concentration in Graphic Design. She loves the Lord and desires to do everything for the sake of the gospel and His kingdom. Allee has spent two summers serving on mission teams in Africa and has a heart for the unreached people of the world. Her desire is to allow the Lord to use her to lead these people to Him. Allee first heard about Market Colors while interning at Children of the Nations, where she is the Event Planning Intern. She has a passion to create things that are visually intriguing and appealing to help raise awareness and funds for the organizations that she works with. Allee is honored to be able to use this passion to serve at Market Colors as the Graphic Design Intern.
by Grace Ingram
It's officially summer here at Market Colors and with that comes the blessing of four new interns, bringing our total to six! With our team having doubled in just a week it's amazing to see how much we are able to accomplish. Each of them is so talented and bring unique skills to the table which we are so thankful for. You've already met Beverly and Grace, who started in January, and today we'd like to introduce Aubrey and Kaylee.
Aubrey is from Orlando and is pursuing her Bachelors degree at the University of Central Florida. She is studying Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, the study of relationships, and minoring in Leadership Studies. She is passionate about the Lord and the people He has given her to love and serve. Her desire is to spend her professional career in community outreach and build relationships with all she meets. More specifically, the Lord has put a call on her heart to work with the underprivileged, homeless, and disabled. Aubrey has traveled to India to evangelize and work with the homeless, individuals with special needs, and those with leprosy. She carries the same passion and vision as Market Colors, to reach out and reveal the love of Christ.
Aubrey heard about Market Colors through her close friend, Lizzie Wirgau, (our CEO) and now holds the position of Event Planning Intern. In her spare time, she loves to create and enjoy music, spend intentional time with friends, and eat good food. She is very involved in her church's worship program and volunteers with Younglife ministry.
Kaylee is an Orlando native and currently in her final year at UCF, studying Nonprofit Management and African Studies. She immediately connected with the mission of Market Colors because of "the amazing things we're doing in Africa". Kaylee has served in Kenya for the past three summers and has fallen in love with all of its beauty. She will be getting married later this year and is excited to be moving to Kenya with her sweetheart next year. She'll continue working to promote more opportunities for young people.
Kaylee loves photography, interesting patterns and bright colors, reading about social justice and international development, the outdoors, and traveling. She is obsessed with avocados. Besides interning with Market Colors as the Marketing and Outreach Intern, Kaylee also works at Starbucks and loves all things coffee and tea. This summer, Kaylee will be managing our Home Parties, working with the Street Team, and connecting with churches and other organizations.
Check back with us next week to read more about Kaylee's experience in Kenya and to meet our other two new interns, Jessica and Allee!
by Lizzie Wirgau
When we looked at our budget for 2013, I knew we would have to work very hard to meet it. With the success of our video fundraising campaign in 2012, I knew that was something we should do again. But how much to raise? I started to pray about it. And, as God has (thankfully!) done so much in the last 18 months, He put an answer on my heart: $10,000. Yikes. That’s a lot of money. Especially when we’re depending on donations from individuals. But five weeks later, we raised a total of $15,215. Overwhelmed and grateful… that’s how I feel. This campaign was such a beautiful example of how God can use each one of us to make a difference.
Market Colors is such a great blessing to me. It shows me that God is very much at work in our lives today. It also encourages me. All the encouragement from our supporters, new and old, shows me that there are people who are passionate about making change happen. There are so many people excited to fight for those without a voice.
Market Colors looks different than I first thought it would. I don’t think I knew that this type of support would drive our organization so much. While our main goal is to give opportunity to craftsmen, the craftsmen alone aren’t the only people we depend on. Our supporters are the ones who have allowed us to equip these men and women. Both the craftsmen and our supporters encourage us. The craftsmen make us want to work hard. Our supporters make us feel… well, supported. And that they believe in what we’re trying to do, as crazy as it may feel some days.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for believing in the work we are doing. Market Colors will be able to make an impact for 500 craftsmen in 2013 because of your financial commitment and your ceaseless prayers.
For those who gave, you will be receiving your perks throughout the next few weeks and months (depending on the perk.) To everyone, we cannot wait to share with you what God will do through Market Colors in 2013.
Together we can transform lives of African craftsmen.
UPDATE: Day 18
Watch our March campaign video here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/for-the-next-craftsmen
This January, I felt a clear call from God to raise at least $10,000 for Market Colors’ next 5 craftsmen communities through a March Indiegogo campaign. We saw donations come in immediately and it was incredibly encouraging. However, things were moving slower than last year and I began to get a touch nervous as $10,000 is a LOT of money. But I clung to the truth that God had clearly put $10,000 on my heart, no matter how large a number that seemed. So, I began to surrender the campaign to God every day.
Now, less than 3 weeks into the campaign, $12,500 has been raised! It’s proof of God’s amazing provision, and your dedication and belief in what we’re doing. God has used you, our supporters, to further the work of Market Colors. And we’re just 18 days into our campaign. We still have 19 days left to go!
A verse God has laid on my heart time and time again is Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…” God has used many of you to do more than we could ever ask.
So please join us in reaching our 2nd goal of $15,000. This additional $5,000 will go toward a media trip where we will begin documenting the stories of our craftsmen. We know that the world wants to hear more about the lives of these amazing men and women, and we want to do our best to tell you their stories. Please watch the update video for more information: Lizzie Wirgau, Market Colors Founder, giving an update
Please partner with us by: - Sharing the campaign page on Facebook - Emailing the video to friends and family - Selecting your perk, and donating to our campaign
Thank you for all your support. Join us in reaching our 2nd goal of $15,000! Together we can transform lives throughout Africa.
by Lizzie Wirgau A new year... new interns! We currently have three interns that work with us in the office. They are each so talented and bring great things to the table. We are confident Market Colors will grow over these next 4 months because of these ladies. You already know one of them, Robyn. Now, meet Beverly and Grace.
Beverly is a junior at UCF, majoring in Communications and minoring in Nonprofit Management. In her free time, she loves volunteering, finding new music, catching up on old films, thrift shopping, and being surrounded by family and friends. Beverly says that after she found out about Market Colors, she was “completely hooked” and is so passionate about our mission and vision. She loves feeling connected to the craftsmen and knowing that what she does is making an impact. Beverly’s role includes event planning, development, and day-to-day office tasks such as shipping. She is also a vegetarian. While the Market Colors internship is not solely for those with dietary restrictions, we do seem to attract vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, and lactose intolerant girls. We love them all!
Grace moved from Bradenton to Orlando in 2009 to attend UCF, where she is studying Communications and Nonprofit Management. After completing her degree this past December, she began looking for opportunities to work with nonprofits that serve in Africa and found Market Colors to be a great fit! Grace loves good books, coffee, antiquing, any opportunity to travel or explore new places, and all kinds of food (but especially Thai!) While working with Market Colors, she will be handling some of the social media including Pinterest, curating the blog, and helping keep up the Twitter account. And, keeping true to Market Colors intern form, Grace is gluten-free as well!
Interested in being an intern this summer or fall? Email Lizzie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!