A couple months ago I got to do two things I love.
1. Help a friend with a beautiful heart.
2. Spend my Friday in a dreamy vintage kitchen.
When my inspirational, courageous and lovely friend Michelle asked me to be the model in a photoshoot for her business, tons of insecurity welled up in me. I love pictures, but I do not love being in front of the camera. You’re probably thinking, why do you have a trillion and ten engagement/wedding photos? Well. I have a super talented friend and I married a wanna-be J. Crew model. So there is your explanation. (and Brent’s deepest, darkest secret). Luckily, the focus of this shoot (and the beauty of this business) was not on me.
(Rather than explain the premise of Imagine Goods, I thought I’d share this newsletter I wrote on behalf of the founders not long ago)
Who We Are
We are wives, mothers and friends brought together by our passion for justice. We are Aiyana Ehrman and Michelle Kime. After our first trip to Cambodia in 2006, we decided to take action in the fight for justice, and make a difference in the lives of the people we encountered. This is when Imagine Goods was born. We stayed in contact with a non-government organization, Cambodia Hope (CHO), partnering in any way that we could. We also began taking teams of people on “exposure trips,” in order to expose the issues of poverty we had encountered. Through those trips, and many generous donations, we helped CHO drill eight different wells and implement three different sanitation projects. We were able to raise funds for the HIV+ projects, School on the Mat, and meet some of CHO’s other financial needs.
During this time we began working with some sewing projects that CHO had already started. We saw this as a beautiful way to provide opportunities for those trained in this art. Five years ago we commissioned 45 bags of two varieties, in hopes that these would sell successfully. The products took off, and we gradually added different patterns and larger quantities to the sewing orders. Our goal was to utilize CHO sewing students as our seamstresses, and to source as many of the supplies as possible directly from Cambodia. At this point we became very familiar with the open markets of Phnom Penh, as we poured over fabric, zippers and buttons on each of our trips.
What began as a non -profit searching for projects has grown into a business.
About a year ago we realized this sewing project was evolving into a business. We felt that this project was the most sustainable of all our endeavors and that it would offer the most stable opportunities for empowerment to our Cambodian partners- to CHO. This conclusion led us to restructure our non-profit to a business; Imagine Goods! We have shifted from 45 re-usable bags to a full line of products. These products include clothing, home goods and accessories, all handcrafted by marginalized and vulnerable people, given an opportunity for change. All of our fabrics are sourced from open markets in Cambodia, therefore helping to sustain the local economy.
You might call us accidental entrepreneurs...we never really intended to start a business. In fact, we do things differently than some businesses. People matter to us way more than the bottom line, and our goal is to stay aware of the entire chain of people involved in the creation of our product. Are they earning a living wage (enough to meet their basic needs)? Are they being empowered? This is why we call ourselves a Sustainable Supply Co.
We believe that, when WE purchase a product, the cost of this item should sustain each person connected to it, with a living wage.
Love, Aiyana & Michelle
I was thrilled to help show off the sweet products that Imagine Goods has to offer. And am thrilled to call Michelle a friend. She has inspired me in so many ways, helped me to grow my heart toward the impoverished and my fight for justice/against human trafficking. The idea of being able to purchase fair trade items and support these women is amazing to me.
Each item is created by a different seamstress. Each seamstress has a symbol, and attached to that symbol is a story. Match your symbol to the story on ImagineGoods.com and suddenly the piece of clothing or home decor has meaning and purpose. There is beauty in each imperfection, just knowing where it came from.
Educate yourself! Visit the site! Tell your husband you know just what you want for Valentine’s Day 🙂
Shopping is that much better when you know where your money is going.
p.s. Michelle, you inspire me.