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Looking back at 2013 with a smile

So much good happened in 2013, I hardly know where to begin! Perhaps a chronological report of our milestones is the best way? Here we go…

We began 2013 with the goal to continue to grow organically and determined to find ways to give back!

Our dear friend and supporter, Sharon Gutowski, put the final touches of our website logo and it got unveiled in February. Don’t you just love it?

 

Winter is typically a very slow time of the year for sales but we braved the weather and participated at the Annual South City YMCA Spring Craft and Gift Show in late March. This two-day event was an opportunity to continue to promote our brand. Sadly, we had a snow storm come through the city and the event was canceled the second day.

We officially kicked off the Spring Season at the Annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival held at Forest Park in April. It was a wonderful event and it allowed us to showcase all the beautiful and sustainably produced gifts from around the world, including our Handbag and Purse Collection made entirely of jute and organic cotton, our Recycled Metal Home Décor finely handcrafted by Haitian artisans and super cute Recycled Flour Sack kitchen essentials among other gifts.

It was pretty awesome to donate one of our best-selling Fair Trade items to the many volunteers that make the Earth Day Festival possible. Can you spot our lovely gift to them here? Thank you for the shout out!

Speaking of Recycled Metal Home Décor, we decided to partner with Heifer International and donate 10% of our annual sales of metal art to support one of their many projects, REACH, the Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti

 

This project aims to work with farming families, aid organizations, producers, municipalities, private - public sector partnerships and others to rehabilitate and strengthen the crop -and livestock based- livelihoods. We are delighted to report that thanks to our customers’ purchases of Haitian Metal Art in 2013, we donated $300 on their behalf. Once again, Sharon Gutowski created above banner for us.

 

We are of course a mobile business, so we continued to participate at various events throughout the Metro St. Louis area.

We brought our gifts to Cinco de Mayo Cherokee Street Festival, the 41st Annual Gypsy Caravan held on the campus of UMSL, the Thurman Loop Fest, made it to Fiesta in Florissant for the first time and to St. Margaret of Scotland Church Fair Trade Sundays

We also joined many other vendors at our home away home, the North City Farmer’s Marketmost Saturdays during the summer.

In and around all this, I managed to complete my Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree at the University of Missouri St. Louis in August! I’m so grateful for the new skills I acquired and experiences this program afforded me. I am also thankful to the great friends in my cohort who completed this journey with me. Their support and friendship helped me get through the tough days!

 

One of the most exciting milestones for us came in July when we set-up our store in the Square Market. This has been a wonderful move for us as we gained national exposure thanks to the large following Square already enjoys. These guys came up with a super cool Holiday Marketing campaign and Zee Bee Market was featured in several of their #MKTHoliday wish lists. Check out this video that put us on the national stage!

 

We had a series of wonderful sale events lined up for the Fall Season starting with the Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival in September. We also participated for the first time in the Grove Fest and drove the furthest west ever to attend the O’Fallon Fall Festival

 

We returned to a few fun events like the Thurman Loop Oktoberfest, a street festival that takes place in the Historic Shaw Neighborhood, the Green Gift Bazaar in Alton, Illinois and Wintermarkt, a great event held in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood. The folks who organized this event managed to get some TV coverage! Some of our products made it to this broadcast. Pretty cool, eh?

 

We were also excited to participate for the first time at Casa de Salud’s Zocaloco fundraiser event and our first ever appearance at the Fair Trade Christmas Market organized by the Social Ministry volunteers at St. Francis Xavier College Church.It was nice to donate part of the proceeds to both of these entities!

We had important milestones in the Social Media space this past year. We reached 400 Facebook fans in

October! We also joined the Pinterest family and have been quite active on Twitter lately.

Sooooo, if you are a fan or follow other small businesses, won’t you please include us? Thank you!

 

Giving Back continued to be an important part of how we do business in 2013. In September I chose to support Global Mamas’ Building Prosperity Campaign by dedicating my 27th marathon in New York City.

This effort will allow Global Mamas to continue to do their wonderful work in Ghana and to build a state-of-the-art Fair Trade Zone that will employ 200 additional women.

After weeks of encouraging friends and family to join me, I was able to raise $3,168 for this cause! A Million thanks to all who donated to this cause.

The organization will raffle off a trip to Ghana this year to one lucky fundraiser. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get picked! If I do, I’ll be sure to tell you all!

 

As you can see we had a busy, busy year. We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to an exciting 2014! 

 


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