Friday, February 5, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year starts Monday, February 8th, and until a few years ago, I never really thought about the holiday. Like many celebrations in other countries, it was “off my radar.”  Then, in 2013, my son, his wife and our four grandblessings moved to China and began working at New Day Foster Home outside of Beijing. Suddenly, China was on my radar.

Because many of our artisans live with their families in China, I wanted to learn more about the holiday and how it was celebrated, so I interviewed our Scarlet Threads liaison, Leeann.

She was gracious enough to share her experience with us. Here’s what she had to say:

"We usually celebrate the New Year starting on January 23rd. We call this ‘Lunar Day.’ We start cleaning all of the house, doing the washing, and shopping. We kill a pig, chicken or sheep, fry churros, fry meatballs, meat, etc.  On New Years Eve, we hang red couplets on our gates and doors.

“Also on the eve of the New Year, all the family gets together to have dinner.  After 20:00, we will watch TV-watching the new year celebration programs, and at 24:00, we all eat dumplings together and then set off fireworks! Most of the young men stay up the whole night, and we leave the lights on all night.

“On the first day of the New Year, we will have a dumpling breakfast together, and then we go to the homes of all our friends and relatives and say, ‘Happy New Year!’  They will give the kids money or candy!
“Before the 10th day of the first lunar month on the calendar, we mainly play cards together, visit with friends and eat together. This is relationship building time, it is the main holiday when people will return to their hometown to be with friends and family and spend time together. We will go back to work after the 10th.

“For us, the New Year means that everything is new….we welcome the new day and look forward to peace and hope; a chance to forget all the old things and start the new!”

Speaking of "new," Leeann just gave birth to a beautiful new baby daughter, named SunYue. Congratulations, Leeann! Happy New Year, indeed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some Musings From The Shopkeeper

Good morning! It’s been a while…

There’ve been some wonderful and insightful things going on and I want to fill you in!

Since coming on board with Scarlet Threads last April, I have been learning the ins and outs of shopkeeping. Previously, I have spent a career as a Mom and Wife, and as a Physical Therapist Assistant in the realm of Home Health Care/Geriatrics.  So, shopkeeping is a whole new ball game for me.

My husband, Gene, and I have become pretty proficient in sorting and organizing our merchandise, filling orders, communicating with our customers, and ordering new stuff. Well, maybe not proficient, but we’re getting better at these things as each month passes. We’re also making connections with people who travel to China and Ethiopia so that we can get the handmade products from our beloved artisans back to the U.S. and into our customer’s hands and homes. 

That’s one of the most challenging aspects of our endeavor.  We have learned to reach out to people who we don’t know to ask them to kindly fill a suitcase with aprons and potholders. We’ve sometimes even had to annoy the socks off of some friends to help us find people in China who may be interested in helping. It’s been a gratifying nine months, filled with growth!                     

Our friend Laura & her girls – Laura’s been a great help to us!     
Our friends, the Browns, visited China and brought home a suitcase full of aprons! Their girls are enjoying their aprons!
We started out with a long and ambitious list of things that we wanted to learn and do to grow and expand Scarlet Threads. Actually, the list was a bit overly ambitious! So we’ve had to back up a bit and learn to be more realistic, taking things one-step-at-a-time.

Recently, our daughter moved home after spending five months in Ethiopia assisting her fiancé with the paperwork he needed while learning his culture and getting to know his family. They arrived back here, together, in October and were married in December.

The wedding planning, as well as some other things that came up in our family, pulled me away from the business for several months, and I am now getting revved back up again!

So I want to share with you some things that I see in the future for Scarlet Threads. This is my heart; our heart. Going back to how we got connected with ST in the first place, and how God has expanded those beginnings since.

  • Deepening our relationships with orphan care organizations like Hand of Hope and New Day Foster Home and increasing our ability to support them financially through our sales
  • Exploring how we can partner with orphan prevention and family preservations organizations like HEAL Ministries 
  • Expanding our reach to include more artisans and countries and therefore a greater variety of product while keeping the high quality standard
  • Growing our ability to support adoptive families in their fundraising efforts
  • Resurrecting our Scarlet Threads Blog

There’s more stirring in our hearts, but I’m learning not to get too far ahead of myself and stay with the “one-step-at-a-time” motto!

Keep an eye on this blog…we have wonderful posts coming your way.

Lastly, please keep an eye out for us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.  Also…we have a new store on ETSY! Please check us out, like us, love us, re-tweet, re-pin, and share!

See you soon—very soon!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

How Adoption Fundraising Kits Can Help Fuel Your Family's Journey

We had the sweetest message from a customer who is currently working her way through the adoption process, and we just had to share this story!

As many of you know, our goals at Scarlet Threads aren’t just orphan prevention and economic empowerment; we also provide adoption fundraising kits to families who are looking to adopt.

Basically, here’s how it works: when you purchase a kit, you receive an assortment of beautiful aprons (all in varying styles!) with a total MSRP value of around $200. You pay 50% of the MSRP ($100) plus a $20 handling fee and a Paypal fee, then you can sell the aprons for full retail price (or higher!). You can help support an international artisan, and keep the profit to fund your adoption costs.

If at the end of six weeks you find you have aprons you can’t sell, you can return the unused/unwashed products for a refund. Pretty cool, huh?

We’ve sold dozens of kits successfully, but last month, Valerie’s story really stood out. She recently purchased her FIFTH adoption kit from us—wow! Valerie and her husband are currently working to become the forever family of an eleven-year-old boy from China. While purchasing her most recent adoption kit, Valerie wrote,

Valerie and her family
“Our family couldn’t be more pleased…I found Scarlet Threads through searching online for adoption fundraisers. I knew I wanted to work with them after I read about the beginnings of the ministry—originating in China. We are pursuing the adoption of an 11-year-old son from China. So it worked!

“I did call it a ‘ministry’ because I know this is how Gene & Karen view it. They have never said those words to me, but I can tell by the way they conduct themselves & correspond with me. I emailed with Gene initially, but I have emailed with Karen many times since. I feel like she cares about us & our adoption. I feel like we’d be fast friends if we lived nearby.

“The quality of the aprons we have received from Scarlet Threads is really remarkable. The material is nice & sturdy, & very pretty. The patterns are clever. There is a variety to choose from, too! We have now placed [several] orders for adoption fundraiser kits.

“We are grateful for this ministry, in helping us bring our son home. And we are thrilled to be able to help women bring dignity to their lives through their amazing talents & work.”

You can read more about their story here, including the latest breaking news (their paperwork has been logged, and is awaiting approval! Yay!) and how they hosted their most recent fundraiser with Scarlet Threads aprons! 
Shout out to Valerie—thank you for supporting Scarlet Threads, and congratulations on the amazing strides you’ve made so far in your adoption journey!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Good Things Are Coming--But First, Let's Introduce Ourselves

It’s a pleasure to meet you! Karen here, and I just want you to know that we are absolutely thrilled to be working with Scarlet Threads in this exciting new chapter of growth. We first met Carrie in March of 2014 at New Day Foster Home in Beijing, while visiting our son, Guy, a long-term New Day volunteer. We reconnected with her in the fall while purchasing beautiful wire ornaments through Scarlet Threads; we learned all about the incredible work Carrie, Eileen, and the rest of the team were doing, and we were so impressed by their energy, ingenuity, and creativity.

Gene and I on the Great Wall. 

We’ve always been passionate about social justice and ministry, and in the past year we’ve felt God turning our hearts specifically towards orphan prevention and economic empowerment for families who are struggling to stay together and stay afloat.

Last July, we had the opportunity to participate in an outreach in the communities of Yavello and Mega, Ethiopia, working with the local children through Hand of Hope Ministries, which intensified our desire to do everything we can to help bring economic sustainability and justice to orphans, single parents, and impoverished families. When we returned to New Day to visit Guy, our daughter-in-law EunJeong and our four grandblessings this past March, we learned about this exciting new opportunity with Scarlet Threads, and after much prayerful consideration, we were eager to step in and help this wonderful organization continue to grow.

We are so thankful for Carrie and all of the incredible work and time she has poured into Scarlet Threads during the six years since it’s inception. She and Eileen have been so amazing (and patient!) in helping us transition into this leadership role. They have touched so many lives and helped many families while creating this business, and we are amazed and grateful to be able to take part.

Our family, now joining the Scarlet Threads family. 

In the next year, our goal is to continue the vision and further the mission of Scarlet Threads by promoting families through the sale of handcrafted goods, promoting adoption awareness, and fundraising for adoption and orphan care. In addition, we are planning to expand globally, aiming to partner with women and families around the world to empower them become self-sustaining. 

You’ll be seeing some exciting developments and introduced to amazing new artisans (and new products!) very soon! Plus, we’ll be launching a fantastic start-of-summer sale June 21 - don’t miss it! 

Thank you for continuing with us as we enter this exciting new time at Scarlet Threads. We look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Seasons Change: What's New for Scarlet Threads

Some of our very first products.  
The aprons were super cute, but I think our photography has gotten a lot better!!  

We started Scarlet Threads on a little whim… mostly because I went to a fabric market and saw bolts and bolts of fabric; a kaleidoscope of color and possibility. And around that time, I met Deng – a gifted seamstress who salvaged a pair of brand new shorts that I’d bought and promptly cut a hole in while attempting to cut out a tag. I recognized talent when I saw it, and I immediately wanted to create new things with her.

So we made a few aprons and pre-sold them to friends and family in the USA and never really looked back. I never expected Scarlet Threads to grow and be something beyond that. Yet here we are 6 years later with a little company that continues to fill a niche and grow and connect Chinese artisans with a global market.

But a lot has changed in those 6 years. We moved back from China. I became a stay-at-home mama. Then we adopted and Motherhood 2.0 rocked my world. My business partner and sister-in-law, Eileen, has experienced lots of major life changes of her own, and it has become increasingly clear over the last couple of years that the two of us aren’t really able to give Scarlet Threads the energy and time it needs to truly thrive.

About six months ago we began seriously looking for someone who might want to take over this little operation, and thankfully we found them! Karen and Gene Pierce. You’ll hear more from them soon, but as we’ve worked together on the transition these last few weeks, I’ve grown to love their hearts and vision for what Scarlet Threads can be. We share so many of the core motives and beliefs about why the work of Scarlet Threads is important, and I think they are the perfect family to help Scarlet Threads grow and be all it can be.

I’ve heard it said that good leaders know when it is time to step down. I’m not sure that I can claim to be a good leader, but I do know that if Scarlet Threads is going to flourish, it needs someone at the helm who has the energy, time, and dreams to make it grow. I think Karen and Gene can do just that, and I’m eager to see where they take this little business.

But I won’t be totally gone!! I’m still going to be around, helping in the background and offering my advice and thoughts as needed to help ensure a seamless transition for our artisan partners and customers. Thank you for taking Scarlet Threads from my "little whim" to the organization it is today… and please continue to support it now that Karen and Gene are at the helm. Nothing about the heart of the organization will be changing and I’m quite certain only good things are in the future for all of us!