Can I just say….
I. LOVE. MY. JOB.
Last weekend, we had one of my favorite Sseko events so far.
Why? you ask. Was it the location? The choice wine? THE GIANT WHEEL OF BRIE YOU ATE SINGLE-HANDEDLY?
Although the brie was a close second (what I wouldn’t do for exhorbitant amounts of cheese…) the best part about this event was the connecting.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my husband about Sseko. He asked me this question: If Sseko could be really, really good, the very best at one single thing, what would it be? After some brainstorming, we decided that the thing we want to be our priority at Sseko is connecting.
Connecting people to the people who made their stuff.
Connecting young Ugandan students, with American students in the same stage of life.
Connecting people with communities across the globe.
Connecting people with the communities in their own backyard, that they may not know exist.
There are people you pass everyday. And there are people, across the world and in your own zip code, that you will likely never pass.
And those people, the ones whose paths you likely will never cross on your own, those are the people we want to connect you with.
Because those are the people who will make the little worlds we have created for ourselves a little bigger and a lot better.
And that is exactly what I got to do this pass weekend.
Terri Stipanovich and Nicole Nowotny of St. Louis, hosted a great party, inviting lots of women in their community. Our vision was to connect these women to the young women in Uganda. To show them that where the spend their money matters and always makes a difference, for good or for bad. To help create an awareness of women around the world, the issues they face, and things we can do here to support them.
But then, we took it a step (no pun intended) further. We teamed up with a local women’s ministries that serves women in all walks of life, but specifically those struggling with eating disorders, drug abuse, self harm, and unplanned pregnancies. The head of the Mercy home in St. Louis came to speak, and a few graduates from the Mercy program joined us at the party.
Then we gave the women at this party an opportunity to buy Ssekos. Not only for themselves, but also to give as simple gifts to the women of the Mercy home. The response was overwheming. When we left that night, every single girl at the Mercy home had been spoken for. It was so wonderful to see how such a simple thing, a sandal, could not only connect these women to the Sseko girls in Uganda, but also to the women in their backyards.
The next morning, I had the privelage of taking the sandals to the Mercy home. We sat with the girls, ate breakfast, shared stories. I had the opportunity to tell them my story and the story of Sseko. Then we gave them their sandals.
It was pure mayhem.
There were fabric flying and squeals of delights. The girls kept coming up with these GREAT new ways to tie Ssekos that I had never seen! These women were blown away to know that there are women in their own community who care about them and what they are going through.
My favorite part of the whole morning was being approached by a particular young women. I had noticed her earlier in the morning. She was very quiet and kept mostly to herself. She looked cautious. After I handed her a pair of Ssekos, in a quiet, monotone voice she said, “Can I give you a hug?”
“Of course!!!” I exclaimed, probably a little to energetically for a normal human.
She hugged me and then said in a voice with no more expression than the first time, “Consider that an honor. Because I don’t like to hug. But I do love me some shoes.” She cracked the tiniest smile and walked away to lace up her new kicks.
Julianne Fogt, director of the St. Louis Mercy home!
If there are some women in your own backyard that could use some love (and I promise you, there are) and you think a brand spankin new pair of Ssekos could make their day, lets chat. Email me at Liz@Ssekodesigns.com.