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735 Herndon Avenue
Orlando, FL 327972

407-308-0358

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.

12 Days of Christmas

Lizzie Wirgau

by Lizzie Wirgau This past year has been full of so many new adventures for Market Colors. We expanded our number of craftsmen, intern team, office space, and product lines. I cannot wait to see what 2014 holds. When planning for the upcoming holidays, I knew we had to celebrate with our Market Colors 12 Days of Christmas giveaways!

Throughout the next 12 days (starting… now! December 1st!) we will be giving away 12 products, one each day. Many of these products are brand new and have never been a part of any of our giveaways. We cannot wait to get some of these bad boys into your hands just in time for the Christmas season.

So tune into Instagram  or Facebook, get those reposts ready, and start celebrating the Market Colors 12 Days of Christmas!

Market Colors Goes Camping!

Lizzie Wirgau

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!

Home Party

Lizzie Wirgau

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.

Step 1. CLICK HERE for info about how to throw a Home Party. Step 2. CLICK HERE to apply to have your own Home Party.

For more info, please email us at homeparty@marketcolors.org.

Journals from Africa: Kaylee

Lizzie Wirgau

As we continue our series we are excited to have Kaylee, our current Outreach & Marketing intern, share about her time in Kenya and the impact it has had on her life.

Who: Kaylee Schmitt Where: Kenya When: Summer 2010, 2011, and 2012

Many people have rightly said that Africa will steal a piece of your heart, and for me, I feel that I've left a huge portion of it there.  The past three summers I've spent in Kenya have radically changed my life and set me on a path I would never have imagined would be my future.  I’m overwhelmed every day at the grace and magnificent love of God to have such greater plans for me than I could ever dream of myself.  In the summer of 2010, I went to Kenya for the first time when I was invited by a young missionary to serve with a local church in the small town of Murang’a.  I was completely unaware of just how much the trip would change me.  At a time in my life when I was doing things my own way, I was a bit apprehensive at first, but after seeing the miraculous way God orchestrated and provided everything in such a short time, I knew I was supposed to go.

I can’t explain how it felt landing in Nairobi that night, looking out the window and seeing so few city lights and noticing the exotic smells that met us when we stepped off the plane.  And even though the lifestyle proved to be so different from our lives here in America, I immediately fell in love with every bit of the rich culture and history, the beautiful languages, and the genuine love people expressed for each other.  I was so moved by the way the people worship so freely and unreservedly with dancing, shouting, and pounding of drums, with tears rolling down their faces in praise to God despite the hardships they were facing and the horrible things they may have experienced.  Hearing some of their stories humbled me and each time I got to hold another precious child, I would fall in love all over again.  I realized by the end of those three weeks that somehow and someway, I would get to see all my new friends again.

The next summer, I went back for three months by myself and was able to go and serve at many other orphanages and schools around the country, traveling all the way to the coastal town of Malindi for a week to spend time at an amazing children’s home there.  The week spent with those inspiring kids created an intense passion in my heart to somehow make an impact in the lives of orphans in the country.  That passion continued to grow and as I went to Kenya again the following summer with my sister and a few friends, it seemed God’s destiny for my life was sealed.

There have been many people in Kenya who've made an impact on my life.  One  shy young boy, John, has found a special place in my heart.  He has lived at the orphanage in Murang’a for all his life and even though communication between us is difficult (since he mainly speaks Kikuyu), it is true that God’s love transcends our language differences.  I’ve been able to watch him grow these past three years and I’m so excited for the young man he will become.  His infectious laughter brings a smile to everyone he meets, and for now, he’s content to blow bubbles, color pictures, and take silly photos with my camera.  I’ve learned that these fleeting moments with the kids are a small glimpse at the heart of God and the beauty that is always around us when we stop and open our eyes.  John’s life is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to care for orphans and I am so thankful to be a part of his life.

This next year will be marked by big changes as I marry my best friend and move to Kenya to continue on the journey that God has set for my life but I will never forget the experiences and the amazing people that have changed my life along the way.

 

Interns: Jessica & Allee

Lizzie Wirgau

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

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

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.

Interns: Aubrey & Kaylee

Lizzie Wirgau

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

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

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!

Journals From Africa: Tim

Lizzie Wirgau

You may have noticed that we've been highlighting individuals who have spent time in Africa on the blog recently, like Molly and Amanda. Our newest story is from Tim, who shares a bit of insight with us from his time in South Africa.

Who:  Tim Bergsma Where: South Africa When: 2011

 What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels? The biggest thing I learned is that no matter what barriers and walls our sin puts up, God can knock them down. This became so apparent to be during one of the days. South Africa has a rough history when it comes to social justice with the apartheid ending during most of our lifetimes. This causes an unbelievable divide between the white South Africans and the black South Africans. Due to the generations of injustice by the political system, a white guy is not easily trusted in most of the townships. This barrier, however, was broken down by a simple soccer ball. God was able to use the game of soccer through my trip – to allow us to quickly earn the trust of the people in these communities, which in turn allowed us to spread Christ in the townships.

A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa, was this true for you? If so, how? I don’t think it is possible to experience another culture so different from your own and not be changed in some way. I constantly am reminded of how lucky I am and also how much stuff I have, especially in comparison. It is easy to get caught up in that, but where the real good comes in is not valuing my possessions, but rather valuing people. In South Africa, we were able to get away from all the ‘stuff’ of our culture and focus on bonding with people and loving and being loved. This is what sticks with me even now. Stuff is so pointless, but people matter so we need to use every opportunity to invest in people and sometimes that means turning off the TV, but other times it may be using the technology and possessions we have been blessed with in order to connect with individuals in ways we otherwise couldn’t.

Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you? There were many. We would run into kids who all taught me unique things, but the person who has had the longest impact in my life was a Afrikaner named Lourens. During my three weeks there, we became so incredibly close. I have never bonded with another individual as quickly as Lourens. He was the type of guy who had experienced it all and was so dialed in and on fire to serve those in his community and those less fortunate than him. He would stay back after meals and compile the scraps that were left behind to take to homeless people on the way home. He was always looking out for other people and always looking to make the most of every situation.

Interested in sharing about your time spent in Africa? Please email us at info@marketcolors.org. We'd love to hear your story.

Our Favorite Things (May '13)

Lizzie Wirgau

by Lizzie Wirgau May Day. College Graduations. Cinco de Mayo. Mother's Day. Memorial Day. And, best of all, it's the time when it starts to feel like summer is upon us! Even though I've been out of college for a little while (2 years this week!) I still think in "semesters" and I know that nothing beats summer. Now, I realize that technically, summer doesn't begin until June 22nd. But with the summer heat already blazing in Orlando - a high of 90 degrees this week - it seems only appropriate we begin celebrating a little early.

We're gearing up for a LOT of things this summer: - Our new crew of interns starts up next Tuesday. - We will be selling tons of new products (did someone say leather?) - These products will be from our current partners as well as our new craftsmen communities in Namibia and Uganda. - We will be having a benefit show on June 7th at Summit Church. - We'll be taking a documentary trip to Africa late this summer.

What an exciting time of preparation. I love May!

So now we bring you the May Favorites from the Market Colors team

 

1. I Won’t Watch “Stop Watching, Start Doing” is the mission of I Won’t Watch. This team gives us all a way to stop sitting back and watching the hurting world around us but to actually do something about it. When you buy a watch, up to $15 goes toward funding projects that improve poverty conditions in a specific part of the world. Not only is I Won’t Watch doing incredible work, but their watches are comfortable, bold, and a great conversation starter. Ah, how we love it when practicality and activism meet.

2. Anthropologie – Capri Blue Volcano Candle Half the year, my team and I burn a variety of festive, holiday candles at the office, scented with everything from pumpkin spice to evergreen. But for the other 6 months (Yes, I know it’s odd that we celebrate Christmas for 6 months, but who can blame us?) we burn the greatest scent known to man… the volcano candle by Anthropologie. Not only does this candle smell magnificent, but it also burns for hours. You know how the scent of some candles fades after they’ve been burning for a while? Not this one. It’s on the pricier side for candles (The smallest size is $14) but it is well worth it. This candle lights up our (office) life!

3. Falling Whistles In my first year of college, I heard the story of the boys in Congo who were sent to the front lines of war, armed with just a whistle. Falling Whistles was created to make their weapon your voice… to become a “Whistle-Blower” for peace. The end goal is peace in Congo. They’ve been able to invest in eight Congolese visionaries that are rebuilding their communities to bring peace to Congo. On the FW site, there are a variety of whistles you can chose from to show your support for this excellent organization and to stand for peace in Congo.

4. Quinoa Salad Say goodbye to your traditional egg salad at family BBQs. This light, filling, and delicious mix will revolutionize your take on salads. Discovered by my sweet mom in Michigan, this healthy recipe is a staple whenever I come home. Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is becoming increasingly popular as it is a healthy seed, not a grain, incredibly tasty and easy to cook. Whip up this delicious salad that tastes like summer and sunshine. Click here for the recipe: Quinoa Salad.

5. Walnut Animal Society Who says stuffed animals have to be for kids? Walnut Animal Society is a collection of stuffed animals that are both thoughtfully designed and masterfully crafted by hand. Founded by Orlando’s own Lauren Bradshaw, Walnut Animal Society is gaining popularity as these little buddies are so great to hug and ideal to display. From Henry the Fox to Eleanor the Bear, each animal is unique and beautiful… and they come with their own clothes! Miniature animals, petite clothes, and timeless creations? Now you can see why we’re in love with Walnut Animal Society. 

6. Rhodia Pad “Big ideas need big spaces.” A friend once told me this when he showed me his Rhodia pad. As a creative with a million thoughts a minute, this notepad helps me get it all out while still feeling organized. Find it online or in a handful of art stores and let the creativity flow!

7. Credo Coffee – Medium Roast Guatemalan Coffee Downtown Credo holds a special place in my heart, as I really consider it one of the places where Market Colors was formed. It’s a nonprofit coffee house where you name your own price for everything you purchase. Part of their great mission is “I press through narcissism, isolation and self-sufficiency, striving to live in authentic community.” If you’re an Orlando native and have never been to Downtown Credo, pencil in a visit immediately. If you’re out of town but believe in their mission and want to try their great Guatemalan coffee, you can now purchase beans online.

8. Market Colors – Foldover Bag Sometimes our selections feel like a bit of a gamble, so we’ll just order a few of them to see how well they sell. Within a week, I had to reorder more of these bad boys! They’re handmade in Kenya by a group of amazing refugee women. It might be the unique colors: burnt orange and distressed blue. Or maybe it’s the gigantasaurusness of this bag, how it fits everything you need and then even more. Either way, this bag has quickly become a fan favorite and we are so excited to support our craftsmen through its sales.

Join us next month for our June Favorite Things!

Journals from Africa: Amanda

Lizzie Wirgau

Who: Amanda Brown Where: Kenya When: 2010

"The summer after my freshman year of college, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Kenya with SERV International. Never having partaken in a mission trip of this scale, it was a leap of faith for me to fly 18 hours and spend three weeks in a third world country. I left the States with bottles of bug spray, numerous shots and pills, my camera, and the words from a friend in the back of my mind. Her statement that “when you go to Africa, you leave a piece of your heart and you’ll never get it back” could not have proved truer for me. It has been three years since I was in Kenya and my time there still comes to mind every day.

Africa is a unique place. Something about its people, landscape, and culture embed itself in your heart. Like many others who have traveled to Africa, my life changed drastically. The most significant thing I learned while in Kenya was the power of love. I spent several days visiting IDP camps (Internally Displaced People) outside the isolated village of Lodwar, near the Sudan border. Pulling up in our Land Rovers, we approached what appeared to be a mound of rocks, except it was the people’s home. They lived on a hill of garbage under the scorching sun, taking refuge under several bushes, and yet they still loved their lives. And even more memorable, they loved God with a blinding passion. These natives had absolutely nothing, but they had not given up. They gave praise to God for every gift they received and every day they lived. The selflessness these people showed and the love they revealed to me, a white visitor who could not possibly understand their situation, made the biggest impact on my life.

While every person I met in Kenya made a memorable impression on my trip, there were several faces that still have a special place in my heart. I spent six hours with two girls, Sarah and Rose, in the slums of Thika, and to this day we communicate weekly through Facebook. They know my life, my story, my struggles, my friends, and my family. And then there was Nancy Amoni, a four-year-old native Lodwarian at the House of Hope orphanage. She spoke only Swahili and Turkana and had been scared of mzungu (white people), but managed to attach herself to my hip and reach deep into my heart. Nobody has ever affected me like she did, and telling her goodbye after two weeks may have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I learned that the Kenyan nation has a welcoming charisma that you cannot help but fall in love with. I saw the true nature of selflessness and how the power of a stranger’s love can embed deep in your soul for years to come. And no, I still have not gotten all of my heart back." 

If you'd like to share your stories from Africa with us, please email info@marketcolors.org. We would love to feature you!

 

Video Campaign Success

Lizzie Wirgau

 

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.

Our Favorite Things (April '13)

Lizzie Wirgau

by Robyn Batts Spring has sprung! Well, sort of. Here in Orlando, the weather has been so back and forth that it’s hard to keep up with what season we’re in. But here inside the Market Colors office, it’s definitely spring!

March was filled with exciting things for us. We reached our first fundraising goal within the first 10 days of our campaign and saw our second goal reached soon afterward. It was a busy month, but it showed us that God is at work and is using so many of you to help bring hope to African craftsmen. We are incredibly thankful for each and every person’s support and prayers.

Now that March is over, it’s time to head into April and we’re bringing you some of our favorites to help you usher in springtime. So here are some of our (and hopefully soon to be your) favorite things to enjoy during April!

1. Monarch Playing Cards - Cloak & Dapper A new site designed as a modern American general store, Cloak & Dapper provides high quality men’s apparel, grooming and provisions. This classy deck is just one of the quality products offered on the site. Make game night even snazzier with these gold foil accented cards!

2. Hustlin’ Coffee Mug - Ashley Brooke Designs Ashley is our good friend and a member of our Product Development team. As a custom illustrator, she is unbelievably talented. Her site is full of custom illustration ideas, as well as cute and quirky stationery and other giftables. Our team is very inspired by Ashley's incredibly current and interesting blog. Although it’s hard to pick, this mug is one of our favorite ABD products at the moment.

3. Follow the Leader Baby Mobile - Market Colors Aren’t these little hand-stitched elephants the cutest? Our first baby product in the store, this mobile is handmade in Kenya by a group of refugee women. The proceeds provide them sustainability. What could be sweeter? And we hear the babies love them too!

4. Massa Peccati - Hoyle We are honored to announce that our friends in Hoyle have released their first album, and it is incredible! Several of us were able to attend their album release show and it was such a blast. You can check them out on facebook.com/hoylemusic or purchase their album on iTunes.

5. Cajun Shrimp - O.P.I. One of my favorite things about spring is the array of fun nail colors that are available! I tend to play it safe with pastels and neutrals, but am slowly coming out of my shell. Lizzie has been wearing this color recently and it’s so pretty. It’s vibrant, but has a pretty coral tone that makes it perfect for any outfit. I’ll definitely be sporting it soon!

6. Sevenly There are so many causes out there to support, so how can you have a hand in helping multiple? Sevenly has found a way! Each week, this organization designs a collection of awesome shirts to benefit a specific cause. As Sevenly partners with these organizations, they are not only helping to raise funds during the week, but are also raising immeasurable awareness.

7. Kinfolk Magazine The older I get, the more excited I get about entertaining and sharing meals with friends. It is so fun to see all the details of a special celebration or relaxing evening come together to create a memorable time with people you cherish. Kinfolk is a quarterly publication that focuses on lovely, simple ways to bring people together. Filled with beautiful photos, delicious recipes, and stories of finding home and comfort wherever you may be, each volume is a collection of work from contributors all over the world. One of my favorite things now is cozying up on the couch with a cup of tea and perusing the pages of the latest Kinfolk.

Join us next month for more favorites! 

Journals from Africa: Mollie

Lizzie Wirgau

 Who: Mollie MitchellWhere: Namibia and Malawi When: 2002 (Namibia); 2009, 2011, 2012-present (Malawi)

What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels? During my first trip to Africa as a seventeen-year-old, I was struck by how, at the core, people are the same no matter where they live.  Before traveling to Africa, when I had only read about and seen pictures of people in African countries, I tended to put Africans in a box of being completely different from me.  As I spent time talking to and serving alongside Namibians in 2002, I saw clearly that, no matter what country or culture we are from, we all have hopes, disappointments, fears, challenges, and a desire to know that we are loved.  Now that I have been living in Malawi and working at a high school for the past six months, it is more apparent than ever that teenagers everywhere desire to be known, want their friends to like them, act silly and love being crazy while trying to appear cool, and are trying to learn how to make their own choices for their lives.

A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa.  Was this true for you? If so, how? When I was in Namibia, I realized in a new way how important and powerful prayer is.  When I returned to the US, I committed to getting up early each morning to spend time in prayer with my mom, who had also been on the trip to Namibia.  To this day, prayer holds a very important place in my life. 

Ultimately, my trips to Namibia and Malawi led me to fall in love with the African culture and people. I decided to dedicate a year or more of my life invested in an opportunity that melds my love for Africa with my heart for education.  Presently, I am living in Malawi, serving as an education consultant with Children of the Nations.

Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you? There are so many children and adults who have impacted my life, especially since I have been living in Malawi long-term.  However, my heart will always have a very special place for my sponsor son, Alfred.  While I was preparing for my first trip to Malawi in 2009, my seventh grade students in the US decided to help me sponsor a ten-year-old boy.  Together, we supported and prayed for Alfred.  When I travelled to Malawi, I had the opportunity to meet Alfred, give him letters from my American students, and tell him how we were praying for him.  Now that I am working at a Malawian high school and see first-hand what a difference education makes in the life of a Malawian child, I want so much for my sponsor son to have this opportunity.  I am praying for Alfred and encouraging him to do his best in school because one day I want to see him graduate from college.  

If you'd like to keep up with Mollie's story while she is in Malawi you can also check out her personal blog.                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indiegogo Update

Lizzie Wirgau

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.

On behalf of the Market Colors team,

How We Wear It

Lizzie Wirgau

by Tiffanie Brunson Market Colors is “dedicated to mitigating financial hardships and improving the quality of life of the impoverished in Africa.” If you’ve seen the "about" section of the website, or seen any kind of media associated with Market Colors, you’ve heard this before. I first heard about Market Colors from the CEO, herself. We met at Summit Church in Orlando where we were both interns and about to move in together. When I asked her what was up next as her internship was coming to an end, she revealed the idea of Market Colors. Now, almost two years later, Market Colors has grown from an idea to a full–blown organization doing so much to improve the lives of African craftsmen. This isn’t just because of Lizzie’s vision and hard work (and trust me when I say, she worked hard). It’s also because of all of you - the people that donate, spread the word, purchase products, and recognize the vision of Market Colors as worthwhile.

Because you’re so important, we decided to write a blog all about you, your favorite items and how you wear them. These are just two of the many supporters and fashion-loving patrons that are passionate about Market Colors.

Meet Morgan Beck

Morgan is an 18 year-old student and coach. Her favorite Market Colors product is the Safari Satchel, which she wears “anywhere and everywhere.” Her favorite thing about Market Colors is that when she buys an item, her money is going toward supporting the work of the craftsmen. "I also love that with every Market Colors item I buy, I receive an information card about the craftsmen that made my product."

 

Meet Megan Radamaker

Megan attends Wayne State University in Michigan. and she's passionate about improving the future nutritional health and well-being of her community.  She loves wearing her Market Colors scarf and proudly showing her support for the opportunity the organization is giving to impoverished African craftsman.

 

Show us how you wear your Market Colors! Grab that camera phone, snap a pic, and send it to store@marketcolors.org.

Our Favorite Things (March '13)

Lizzie Wirgau

by Robyn Batts Okay, is it just me, or did February fly by? I know it’s a shorter month than the rest, but not by that much! Regardless, it has been an exciting, jam-packed one for us at Market Colors. In addition to rearranging and transforming part of our office space, planning some exciting events for 2013, and introducing several fantastic new products to the store, we just launched our “For the Next Craftsmen” campaign to raise funds for reaching even more craftsmen groups this year! Plenty is in store for the upcoming months, but it’s time once again to bring you our favorites!

We now present to you our March Favorites.

 

1. KENSINGTON GARDENS - ANTHROPOLOGIE 

The newest addition to my dresser, this floral scent lives inside a precious rectangular bottle complete with a vintage style bulb sprayer. At only $32, it makes a wonderful gift or the perfect new fragrance for your collection!

 

2. BRONZE PENDANT CLUTCH - MARKET COLORS

Our all-time, most popular Market Colors product is now available in three colors and is just as cute as ever! As much as we love this clutch, we especially love that proceeds go back to the Kenyan craftsmen that made it.

 

3. MAPLE ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS - SAY YES TO HOBOKEN (BLOG)

Brussels sprouts. The vegetable that you have vowed to hate since that dreadful day you were forced to eat them as a 5-year-old. Not anymore! Let me tell you, this recipe will have you wanting them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The sweet maple flavor and the saltiness of the crispy pancetta over the charred brussels is unbelievable!

 

4. KNOTTED JERSEY KNIT HEADBANDS - THE PINK RUFFLE

I stumbled across this sweet baby headband (also available in adult sizes) and immediately wanted to buy one for every baby I know. How cute is it?! We are also quite proud to introduce our first-ever Market Colors baby product this month, so keep checking the store!

 

5. PUNJAMMIES - THE INTERNATIONAL PRINCESS PROJECT

Comfy, cute and serving a purpose! These gorgeous jammies are created by women of the International Princess Project—a program that works with victims of sex trafficking to help restore their dignity and self-reliance. We were drawn to the fun, Indian-inspired fabrics, and love that proceeds are helping to transform women’s lives.

 

6. DARK CHOCOLATE NIBS - TRADER JOE'S This is it, guys. My perpetual sweet tooth has found its soul mate, and its name is the dark chocolate nib. I first tried these one-calorie (can you believe it?!) treats when I visited a friend in Nevada a few months ago and became obsessed. Unfortunately, we do not have Trader Joe’s here in Orlando, but Lizzie has been so sweet to make several nibs deliveries to me after her visits to Michigan, and they have kept me going.

 

7. INDIEGOGO.COM

Have you had a chance to check out our video and March fund-raising campaign, For the Next Craftsmen? It’s made possible through a site that has been so helpful for us over the past year! Indiegogo provides people with the opportunity to create their own online fundraising event and shows the progress that has been made toward the end goal. Please watch our new video and see what perk interests you!

 

8. COLD TANGERINES BY SHAUNA NIEQUIST

Just thinking about this book puts me in a better mood. A favorite of Lizzie's, Cold Tangerines is a collections of stories about how our small, everyday moments and choices have a big impact. With stories about God, traveling, fear, self-discovery, marriage, and more, this book is incredibly challenging and eyeopening.

 

Join us next month for more favorites!

 

Why I Believe In Market Colors

Lizzie Wirgau

by Pat Williams "Have you thought at all about supporting Lizzie Wirgau's Market Colors? She is currently running a campaign to help start up the purchase of African crafts." Those two simple sentences, courtesy of my wife in an email last May, started a month of joy and excitement as I began to follow the Market Colors journey.

The day I got that email, I started to research Market Colors through their website, blog and the Indiegogo campaign called "For the Craftsmen." I watched every video that was posted. I read every entry from Lizzie, and I could barely contain my excitement. Now, I can sit back and think about the reasons why I was personally so excited for Market Colors, and those reasons should excite you as well (Well, at least 2 of them unless you personally know Lizzie).

First, I've known Lizzie for a long time. She was starting 6th grade when I was starting out as the Middle School Minister at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, MI. For the next 3 years, I got to see this funny, intelligent, highly motivated girl grow into a young adult. When I saw Market Colors, I couldn't believe that a student that I knew, someone that I probably yelled at for knocking over a table of food at camp, or that I got to watch help individuals with disabilities enjoy a summer camp experience, was starting a new nonprofit. It was such an incredible moment to see something so great happening through someone I had a connection with. That alone started my excitement off at a pretty high level.

But then, as I started to explore what Market Colors was doing, my excitement grew even more. I've been around nonprofits for most of my adult life. I've travelled on mission trips, helped out at camps, done construction, and so on. And over the years I've seen a lot of nonprofits simply be content at trying to provide short-term fixes to a current problem. Their hearts are all in great places and the work they are doing is definitely needed, but I've always felt that in many cases when these groups move out or move on, they leave a big hole. Food was provided for people in Haiti as a short term fix, but nothing was done to help teach people how to grow and harvest food on their own as a long term solution. The building was built and the family had a home, but without a job they eventually would give up or have to leave the home anyways. But with Market Colors, it was different. It was a solution to one of the big holes. Great organizations would teach tradecrafts to people in Africa. And then Market Colors would come in and expand their marketplace to help them earn a more sustainable income. When I realized what Market Colors was doing, I was hooked.

And then there was the Indiegogo campaign in 2012. It was essentially a campaign to get seed money so they could sponsor 5 groups of African craftsman and bring their products to market in America. From the simple perks of donating, to the constant updates, it was an amazing idea. Let's put it this way—on May 3rd, my wife and I had already cleared some extra money in our budget to give to the "For the Craftsmen" campaign. It was so neat to go back every couple days (let's be honest though, I probably checked it 2 or 3 times a day) and see the constant increase of others that were supporting this great cause. From the fun comments of support from people I knew and didn't know, to the grand total of giving just continuing to grow so quickly, it was something to behold. I remember when they broke through their projected goal and had to add even more tiers of giving to show where the added money would go. I couldn't have been more proud and happy for Lizzie and Market Colors during that month-long campaign.

I remember during the campaign that Melody and I decided to make it a point to begin praying for Market Colors, and it's still something we do to this day. Whether it's for Lizzie, for the team, for the craftsmen, or for those receiving the great products, we continue to pray for them. In fact, just this past weekend our tiny little church plant in Wisconsin boldly prayed for Market Colors. We're praying for them to reach their goal of 10 groups, and we're praying that people all over would rise up and give, both to their new campaign and on a regular basis. They are doing good in a world that truly needs it. And I hope that you'll get to experience the excitement we got to experience in this new campaign.

 

To support Market Colors' new campaign, For The Next Craftsmen, please visit this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/for-the-next-craftsmen

Esther

Lizzie Wirgau

by Lizzie Wirgau This past Sunday, I received word that Esther, a craftsman for Market Colors in Kenya, lost her battle with AIDS. Esther, 33, had been told that a special drink would cure her illness and that she no longer needed to take her medication. I share this not to pull on heartstrings or to bring any shame to Esther but to communicate the weight of very real corruption throughout the world.

When I was 15, I became very passionate about the organization To Write Love On Her Arms. I think I was first drawn to them for their interesting shirts that I saw celebrities wearing -- such as my favorite - Bryce Avery. TWLOHA has an inspiring story that goes along with their mission and vision. In it, they write, “We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.” I’ve come back to this quote countless times when I’ve needed inspiration but also when I’ve needed to be lifted off the ground from heartbreaking news.

I want our customers and readers to know that many of the craftsmen we are partnered with in Africa come from very difficult backgrounds and are working through incredible struggles. Many of their challenges look different than ours. Thinking on Esther’s passing has caused many of us to feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. But it’s also emphasized the burden Market Colors was created to bear: to transform lives for these craftsmen. We realize we can’t fix things and we know that we are new at this. But we also realize that we are able to play a very real part in changing lives and giving opportunity. In the wake of something so tragic, it’s apparent that this needs to happen now. It’s what God has called us to as an organization.

Many of you have received products made by Esther. She worked on the laptop cases, iPad carriers, and Mini Bags. I hope that when you do stumble upon her product card, you are compelled to do something. Market Colors was called to transform lives for African craftsmen and to do our best to be “lovers bold in broken places.” What are you called to do?

Please keep Esther’s family in your prayers. Esther’s husband died recently so her three children are now left orphaned. May her story motivate you to discover what God is calling you to do. For information about how you can support Esther’s family, please contact lizzie@marketcolors.org.

 In memory of Esther Wanjiku Wacera

Journals From Africa: Grace

Lizzie Wirgau

We have started a new blog series entitled Journals From Africa. These blogs will highlight stories from men and women who have spent time in Africa. These stories will come from those who have lived there, travelers who have visited on a mission trip, and others who’ve worked overseas.

Who: Grace Ingram (Market Colors Intern) Where: Malawi When: June 2011

 

What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels?

That I have a heart for Africa. Since middle school I had felt God calling me toward missions, and I had two opportunities to do work in the Dominican Republic. Although both of those trips were meaningful for me, when I went to Malawi it felt like my second home. I didn't know I could feel so completely comfortable and experience such a sense of belonging half way around the world, but that is exactly what happened. This trip helped shape my career goal, to work for a nonprofit that battles hunger and homelessness in Africa. Working with Market Colors is such an honor because I see it as an opportunity to use my time and talents in a way that makes an impact. I don't know what my next step will be career-wise (I've just graduated from UCF this past December and currently hold two part time jobs) but I am excited for the possibilities and open to what God has in store.

A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa, was this true for you? If so, how?

I learned so many things through my time in Malawi but one that was immediately obvious upon returning home was how materialistic our culture is compared with the Malawians. Initially, it was hard to come back and consider spending money on anything that wasn't a necessity because I was so aware of how much I am already blessed. Malawi's culture is also very relationally-based and it made me acutely aware of how much a role technology plays in our communication here, often allowing us to skip the face-to-face. Having been back a year and a half now, I recognize that God has blessed me greatly and I continue to try and use the resources he has given me in ways that honor him. I have also come to value time spent with people more, and intentionally create space for that even in simple ways, like having a cell phone free lunch with a friend.  

Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you?

Every day on our way to Children of the Nations school in Mtsiliza, we took a bus through the village. As we drove we would pass the market, then streets of homes before finally making it to our destination. As some of you may know, Malawians (particularly children) use the term 'mzungu' to refer to us "white people". Although we were greeted by many loud, happy children yelling this when they saw us, there was one little boy in particular that my team and I looked forward to passing every day. As we'd round the last curve before coming to the COTN school, there would be a little boy no more than two years old playing in his front yard. As soon as he saw our bus he would start yelling, "Mzungu! MZUNGU!" and waving at us. The joy of this child and his welcoming nature at such a young age touched my heart and that of my teammates. He reminds me now to reach out with love and warmth to those I meet and that it only takes a small gesture to make someone feel special.

 

 

 

Interns: Beverly & Grace

Lizzie Wirgau

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

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

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 lizzie@marketcolors.org for more info!

Our Favorite Things (February '13)

Lizzie Wirgau

by Robyn Batts It’s hard to believe, but February is already upon us. Christmas has come and gone, 2013 has commenced and the groundhog saw no shadow, signifying an early start to spring! A lot has happened already this year and we can’t wait to see where the next eleven months will take us. As Market Colors grows, we realize there are a lot of things that make us tick here -- things we enjoy, are inspired by and, okay… LOTS of snacks we love to munch on.

We thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse inside the world of Market Colors by showing off some of the products, organizations, and other things that we love the most. So, we’ve decided to start bringing you -- drumroll please -- our monthly Market Colors Favorites! Our hope is to connect you with interests we share and hopefully introduce you to new things you might want to try.

We now present to you our February Favorites.

1. FLORAL HEART CARD - Rifle Paper Co. We are huge fans of Rifle Paper Co. They're based in Winter Park, just 10 minutes from our office! Here's just one sample of a card that's simple, beautiful and a cute way to send a note to someone you love.

2. FOREST CABLE SCARF - Market Colors Okay, so this one is ours, but we just can’t help it! We love the fun tribal accents, extra long length, and of course, the fact that proceeds go back to equipping the wonderful group of Ethiopian men and women who made it with sustainable jobs.

3. NEED I SORBET MORE BOWL SET - Modcloth In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we stumbled upon these adorable ceramic bowls and fell in love. They are the perfect size for ice cream or trail mix. They'd even work great as holders for bobby pins or coins on your dresser or desk!

4. OLD PINE - Ben Howard Do you have a song? You know, that one song that no matter where you are or what’s going on, when you hear it you are instantly transported to the top of the world and are capable of conquering any feat? Here's that song for our founder, Lizzie: "I used to spend hours in Starbucks writing and re-writing the business plan for Market Colors with this song on repeat. Whenever I hear it, I'm reminded of those days before we were an actual organization."

5. BOOM CHICKA POP POPCORN (lightly sweetened) - Angie’s Popcorn When 2:00 rolls around, we’re usually ready for something sweet in the office. We recently discovered this all-natural tasty snack and cannot get over its perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness. It boasts a long list of wonderful qualities including vegan, gluten free, kosher, cholesterol free, and the sweetest of all…fair trade!

6. WARBY PARKER This awesome organization offers quality stylish prescription glasses and sunglasses at an affordable price. And even better -- with every purchase a pair of glasses is donated to someone in need.

7. VINE APP Our new favorite app, brought to you by the creators of Twitter, allows users to record and share creative 6-second videos. It’s a fun way to share tidbits of life with friends, and it's incredibly easy to use. Set up an account and follow us!

We hope you'll check out all of the Market Colors February Favorites, let us know what you think, and watch for our March Favorites next month!