I hope 2015 is off to a grand start for you all! And, let me take this opportunity to get a bit ahead of the curve and wish you a happy Ground Hog Day and Valentine's Day!
I had planned to share this on the anniversary of Pretty Things & Cool Stuff, which was Dec. 14 of last year. But, things were crazy busy - thanks to all of you!
Sybil, Sweet Sybil
I want to start with sharing with you some dated news, that still is very hard for me to talk about without tearing up (so glad this is not live, streaming video!). If you had a chance to read Our Story, you will know that Sybil was our very sweet, smart parakeet / office manager / cheerleader / mascot.
The many days that Doubt and Fear would team up to try to get me to give up on creating and launching Pretty Things & Cool Stuff, Sybil would be there with this look she had that seemed to say, "Come on! You really believe in your mission and you have good work to do, so keep going! Keep going! You can do it!"
In late July of last year, Sybil passed away in my hands after suffering a sudden stroke. She was five months shy of her 15th birthday. We were devastated. The pain of losing her and what she selflessly gave to us and how she enriched our lives on a daily basis has not dulled. As I've shared before, Pretty Things & Cool Stuff is a new path and adventure for me, and the time since without cheerleader Sybil encouraging me on from her perch daily have been challenging.
I know she is still with us in a different way. And of course, she still watches over everything from her perch atop the Discovery & DELIGHT street sign in our logo. We will always miss her.
I love all living creatures. We need each other, and always have, for so many reasons. And that is why I selected this book — The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human — for the shop. It has helped us, and I hope it will warm your heart and soul, too.
Looking back at our first year, where are we?
More excited and more committed than ever to our Why?, our mission — which has crystallized and become even clearer during the past months:
We want to partner with you to help evolve purchases of wants and needs in your daily life into investments in a better you and a better world - one dedicated to restoration, renewal and balance.
Our internal mantra / guide is: PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE because we believe it sums up everything so nicely. We need each other. Like just about everything else on this fascinating, revolving, evolving jewel we are so fortunate to get to ride along on daily.
So, how are we going to do this?
We are taking things one step at a time, with your help and guidance — listening, observing, learning, tweaking, then we will rinse and repeat.
Here are some of the values, ideas and beliefs we are using to help guide our way:
High quality, value and smart design/functionality through sustainable practices
Our priority is to work to source discoveries that are created with PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE top of mind. This ranges from being as People and Earth-friendly as possible in production, etc. Those who re-think, reuse, recycle, up-cycle, restore and repurpose get an extra nod.
In addition to offering items that are enjoyable and fun, we also want to provide discoveries that are useful, will enhance your life in some meaningful way, will last, and ones that you will want to keep and be proud to give or share.
Over the past year, we have visited with many different partners and potential partners — large companies, start-up entrepreneurs and home-based artisans and craftspeople —who are working hard to do what they can move what they produce and how they do it closer to the PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE mark —if they aren't already there.
We also hold a deep affinity with artisans, craftspeople and independent innovators and entrepreneurs and small, locally based businesses — from across the country and the world. We love handmade, handcrafted, original design and original art. And we will look to those who do such first and frequently for new discoveries for our shelves.
Spend a few minutes with our PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE Collection, and you will find examples such as Bee's Wrap, Texas Honeybee Guild, Esperos, Dude, Sweet Chocolate!, Katharine Watson, Stay Gold, Mary Rose, Audra Azoura, Martha McQuade, Cuppow and more. And this is just a beginning.
We're close to Valentine's Day, so check out Dana's lovely, original, hand-cut, hand-colored Heart Full Hearts.
In a world hard-wired for PEOPLE vs. PEOPLE vs. PLANET for decades, it is challenging and difficult to help blaze and build a new, better path. But there is tremendous progress being made that is very, very encouraging and oh so exciting! And, more and more people each day are seeking out, embracing and living this new path!
We know things aren't perfect, and in some areas, there is a long way to go, but we are committed to seeking out and working with those who are striving daily to move us closer to PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE. The Movement is here, it's very real and person by person, action by action, it is changing things for the better — every day!
Books are essential. We love books! REAL BOOKS! We know you do, too!
I've realized throughout the years that the more I learned, the less I really knew. I think Greek philosopher Socrates really said it best, "The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing."
Funny, but is was so liberating for me when I finally realized that is was totally okay and so right to acknowledge and accept such. And, how wonderful it is to be a lifelong student with unbridled, childlike curiosity that encourages "What if?" and "Why not?", especially in today's ever-changing world!
We believe books can start an amazing, ongoing chain reaction of reading, thinking, learning, enlightenment, sharing, conversations, understanding brainstorming, trial, error and action that are the stepping stones to the thoughtful, reasoned, real and positive progress we need toward a restored, renewed and balanced world.
We're still working on some of the final details, but I wanted to give you a heads-up that Pretty Things & Cool Stuff, to date, has relationships with 18 publishers —major and independent — representing hundreds of imprints covering every nonfiction and fiction topic you can imagine. We also love looking for the many gems that can be found in not-so-recent and vintage books.
Nope. We're not trying to be that corporation named after a warrior woman or parrot or region or rainforest or river or whatever. If you really understand it, its mission, and the real, true impact it has had, you will know it's a capital P Predator.
It crawls Pretty Things & Cool Stuff on a frequent basis and has the ability to do some things with its technology and real-time pricing capabilities that probably wouldn't hold up to fair and unpaid-for-by-same-company scrutiny. Yep, we know it's there lurking, but we have much more important things to do!
Right now, we are trying to offer you a curated selection of high quality books by thoughtfully selected authors that you can learn from, think about, follow a passion with or warm a heart — yours or someone else's. And, with your participation and feedback, we will work to make that selection more personal, meaningful and useful in the months ahead.
By the way, we have made the decision not to return books that don't find homes to their publishers, which would save us and you a few coins. Instead, we will donate them to libraries, schools, community centers and places where they will fit the best and do the most good.
How we work each day
As a start-up, there is little waste, and we're really not interested in changing that as we grow. In addition to taking care about the partners we select to provide discoveries for you, we take the same care in finding sources for our packaging and supplies.
We do care a great deal about how we package items for delivery to you, so you will find more than just your item sliding around in a box. Most of the packing materials we use have been recycled - and can be recycled. You might even find a good use for them! And of course, we always are looking for ways to do things better for you and Mother Earth at the same time.
We also want to let you know that we are not going to participate in that fast-race-to-the-bottom-for everybody that is constant discounting and endless free shipping. It just doesn't serve ANYBODY well in the long run. We are committed to and driven by our mission, we are working hard to stay in it for the long run.
We do not believe in artificially marking prices way up to turn around every five minutes and mark them down. Yes, I know that the brain likes the dopamine fix it gets from the perception of getting a "deal". But it truly is a false, damaging, delusional buzz, and we just don't roll that way. Also, we want to work to have items in our shop that you would like without us having to resort to deceptive practices to get you to buy them.
We also believe in living wages, and strong and thriving locally based independent artists, craftsmen and businesses, who can thoughtfully create and produce quality items that last, as well as true selection that provides real, PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE-oriented choice and delights.
We understand the importance of Value and Values, and we are working to help ensure that what we do provides such for everyone.
Planting seeds. Building community that drives positive impact every day
We don't think of it as giving back. We view it as planting seeds for renewal and restoration and balance. Investing each and every day in some way for a better tomorrow for all. That is how we were raised, and we believe it's sage, timeless guidance that we're sticking to!
There is so much work that needs to be done. When my head starts spinning when I try to figure out what one can do to help realize real, lasting positive impact, I recall the Starfish Story:
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
— Adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren C. Eiseley
While we're still figuring out the starfish, we are very proud to have partnered during the holidays with Leanne Brown to help donate — with your help — hard copies of her wonderful book, Good and Cheap: Eat Well $4/Day to a local,community-based farmers market to give to their customers who shop with SNAP benefits. We hope the books will help them prepare affordable meals that are healthier and more nutritious. We are going to do it again for Valentine's Day, so we hope you will join in!
To us, Pretty Things & Cool Stuff is much more than a shop. In our mind's eye, we envision building and enabling a community of people energized and engaged to seek ways every day they can do something that will have a positive impact and move us closer to PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE.
MOST IMPORTANT — Partners with YOU!
We can't very well craft and become a trusted source that you will enjoy coming to time and time again for something with a strong PEOPLE + PLANET = ONE orientation that will enhance your life or someone else's in a delightful way if you aren't in the kitchen with us guiding us on what and how much to put in and what to take out.
We very much appreciate and value the feedback many of you have offered over the past year, and we are working to put such to good use. And we are going to come back — often — to ask for more, pretty please!
We really do want to do what we can to provide you with discoveries and service that delight.
But please do not wait for us to ask. If you have something on your mind — a suggestion, idea, comment, concern, whatever, please contact us and let us know!
If you haven't already, please join our email list. We think this is the best vehicle for news, new items, promotions and to get your feedback and suggestions. And trust me, we are very appreciative of your invitation to visit your Inbox from time to time, and we are intent on not wearing out that welcome mat!
Between now and Valentine's Day, if you sign up for our email list, we will show our appreciation by giving you a 10% discount on your next purchase. Sign up, and we will send you the information you need to get your savings. Just scroll down to the bottom of this page to the Email Signup box.
There really are not enough hours in the days and arms and legs on this side of the counter to feed all of the social media channels we have on a daily basis (see all at bottom of this page). We will be working harder this year to converse with you more on this blog and on facebook, with twitter and Instagram right behind. We love Pinterest, too. Arrrgh! Hmmm...if I don't sleep.....
Tomorrow brings new lessons to learn and opportunities to improve and grow. It also brings our next step in this journey and our mission. With your continued encouragement, support and partnership, we promise we will work hard to make it and the next and the next and the next and the next...really good ones! Onward!
Thank you so very much!
Kim and Bill and yes, Sybil