I've seen your site, but can you tell me what Market Colors does?
Market Colors works with craftsmen (men and women) throughout Africa. These craftsmen are making incredibly unique and exquisite products but they have hardly any market for them. By connecting them with the international market, we are increasing their demand which, in turn, will create many jobs throughout Africa. When our products are up for sale, we will activate our online store where you will be able to purchase all our items from our website.
We really believe that this organization has the potential to transform a significant number of lives. The truth is, even if hundreds of organizations like Market Colors exist, there still wouldn’t be enough. There are so many villages with so many craftsmen throughout Africa. The need is great.
Where did this idea come from?
I worked at Summit Church in the Missions Department for a few years. My job was facilitating the trips we took to Malawi, Sierra Leone, and the Dominican Republic. Because of that, I was able to go on trips as both a participant and a leader. Throughout my visits, I began forming real relationships and God started working on my heart. While I really loved my job, I began feeling like God had a different plan for me regarding my work in Africa. My awesome boss, John Parker, and I started brainstorming about what that could be. We identified this need: there are skilled craftsmen in Africa but no one can get to their products. Then we worked through how I could help meet that need. Those initial conversations happened in April of 2011.
It’s important for me to note that Market Colors could not exist if this wasn’t something God wanted. I get to see God bless our organization daily… often in some pretty huge ways. I feel so lucky to be a part of His work in Africa. Market Colors is a blessing to me.
What countries do you work in?
We work solely in Africa. As of now, we have three partnerships in Kenya and one in Malawi with more on the horizon. We are hoping to grow to at least 20 partnerships over the next five years.
We chose Africa because that’s where our church and community are focused and it’s where my heart is. Also, there aren’t as many groups selling products from Africa because it’s so far and so difficult to ship from. That goes back to how we wanted to meet a need.
Is this your full-time job?
The short answer is yes. My “work hours” aren’t typical 9-5 because I work on this more than I would on an average full time job. I’ve committed to not being paid a dollar for the first year. This means every penny that gets donated goes directly to making this nonprofit happen. I also work about 15 hours/week for Hunter Vision as a promoter on their Street Team. So that means I know a lot about Africa and LASIK!
What do you do every day?
Well, it depends on the day. But on average…
Morning: Because of the time difference between Africa and here, I usually wake up to a handful of emails that I try to tackle early before Africa goes to bed. These emails are usually about product questions and approvals, shipping and payment details, or inquiries about future partnerships. I’ve also started dedicating a chunk of time in the mornings to praying for Market Colors, our partner organization, and craftsmen.
Lunch: One thing I love about my job is that I get to meet with people all the time! I meet people who are interested in getting more information about Market Colors and/or working with us in some form, people who are way smarter than me and I want to learn from, or people who encourage me in this occasionally overwhelming adventure.
Afternoon: At this point, Africa is asleep or just starting to wake up. So I try to use this time to focus on what we’re doing in the US. Right now, this mostly means marketing. I’ll spend time working on social media, design, research, setting up meetings, and brainstorming.
Night: I start to get responses from some of my morning questions that I sent to people in Africa. The iPhone literally changed my life. I can be working at all hours of the day, no matter where I am. I’ve communicated some pretty big and immediate decisions from my phone. It lets me always be in touch. Which is super-essential when you are starting an organization.
How can I help?
Share our new video next week. One really great opportunity will be coming up next week! I’ll be posting a video with never before seen footage from my trip to Africa this winter. It has footage with the craftsmen who are making our products! This is going to be used as part of a fundraiser we are doing to raise money for our initial products. Watch the video and then please share it!
Show us your skills. If you have a skill that you think could be useful, please contact us! Some needed skills: marketing, graphics, social media, website, writing. Also, if you have connections with companies, let us know. Examples of companies: printers, t-shirts, sponsors, marketers, etc.
Give us your lunch money. Well, not exactly. But another big way you can help is to donate. Donations keep us going and they allow us to reach more people in Africa. Even donations of $10 can really make an impact!
Pray. Pray. Pray. Please be praying for our growing organization. Please pray for the craftsmen we work with, the production of the items, the growth of Market Colors, and for clarity as our leadership makes big decisions.
When can we buy products? What will these products be?
FALL. By early fall we will have products for sale from at least three of the four initial partners! Initially, we will be selling laptop cases, satchels, purses, rugs, and jewelry. They’re all unique, very well-made and affordable.