Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March Giveaway Winner

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The story of the March giveaway
The story of Jennifer, winner of mv's Second Giveaway

The first giveaway was so much FUN and had really given me a sense of being able to show my gratitude to all the wonderful people I'd met through LinkLove ~ so I decided to host one for the month of March as well! :)

As I'm still a newbie at those things, I wasn't too sure what kind of gifts would have been most appreciated by the lovely people who had joined my fan page, but I was determined to find out.

I personally like surprises. I often pick the Surprise Gift when I order from my favorite beauty store, it makes my order feel so much like Christmas! They always have such interesting gifts too, not necessarily all beauty products, and that makes it so exciting to open the package. Will it be a cute bag? Makeup? Candles? A watch? Just LOVE that suspense :)

But that's me, and I wanted to find out what other people liked. Luckily I could figure out how to make a Facebook Poll and asked my lovely fans to choose their favorite prize between Gift Certificate, List of Items to Choose from, Surprise, and Other Suggestion. The funny part? The poll ended in a tie, so it had to be extended. Finally, Gift Certificate broke the tie by one vote, so that's what March's prize was set to be.

So the giveaway was posted March 1st, but unlike the previous month, this one was made much easier: to enter, all one needed to do was click Like. Easy peasy! Still giving people the option of entering the giveaway or not, yet making it easy to enter so even the busiest fans can take advantage of it. Of course, there was still the option of extra comment entries for the super motivated fans :)

The resulting response has been astounding! 34 extra comment entries, and ... wait for it... SEVENTY TWO "Like" entries! That's a 230% increase from last month! WOW. And the number of fans had not increased by that much, so I shall strive to make the giveaway entries as easy for any future ones.

It really is amazing what a difference it makes. Kind of like the difference between having to just drop your business card, and having to fill a form. I'd guess the business card drop would garner a LOTTA more entries :) I'll keep that in mind if I ever get to open a B&M shop :)

Fast forward to Sunday the 7th of March, 9PM EST. With so many entries, it was going to take a little longer to double-check the list and enter it at random.org, so the announcement had to be postponed by a few minutes. List entered, randomized, random number picked: 82. Number 82 on the randomized list: Jennifer B.

Her answer was so cute! She said she'd never won anything before and couldn't believe she had won, and when I confirmed she was THE ONE, she started dancing and her husband was very confused as to why she was doing that. That was so super cute!

I had actually e-met Jennifer just a few days prior, so my memory of her site was still fresh in my mind. I was particularly impressed by her commitment to fair trade, and her keen sense of beauty seen through the product choices on her site. Given her great fashion sense, I was really looking forward to seeing what she would use her gift certificate for.

She chose one of my favorite necklaces, the Dark Shimmer. I was so happy the necklace was going to such a wonderful lady!

And a wonderful lady she is.

Ever since she was a child she's felt the need to help others. She still remembers being a little girl, home sick from school, and seeing a commercial on TV about donating to a fund to help feed starving African children. She remembers seeing a tiny, starving, shoeless little girl and getting a very strong feeling she had to do something about it. There was not much the 7-year-old Jennifer could do, but as she grew older, that strong feeling of wanting to help stayed with her.

So when she saw BeadforLife mentioned on the Today Show, she jumped at the opportunity to help African women build a sustainable future for themselves. Within the hour, she had already booked her first BeadforLife party. This is what she has to say about her experience and how it started shaping her future:
"When I received the beads, I was drawn to them like nothing before. The cause, their beauty, and power they hold. I swear there is energy pouring from them. (Hence the [Energy in my] store's name). I wanted to work with the beads on a larger scale, so I looked into doing a BeadforLife tour that travels to Uganda Africa, to meet the beaders and participate in an international sale, however I couldn't afford it for this Spring's trip, so I am looking into this Fall."
So far, Jennifer has raised over $3000 (6,255,000 Uganda Shillings) for this cause. That is an AWESOME accomplishment and she has made SUCH a difference already in the lives of so many impoverished African Women.

She wanted to do even more.

So she started reading more about fair trade, researching, trying to find more ways she could help. In her own words:
"[...] it amazed me to read such stories of hope people have to get themselves out of poverty, and how hard they will work to get there. Their hope and spirit keep them going through the most horrific tragedies. (And there ties in Spirit & Hope for the last two [words in my] store's name)."

You can guess what happened next, and what she has chosen to name her store :) Yes, Jennifer decided to make fair trade products more accessible in her area, and to do so she has started her Energy, Spirit & Hope store. A GORGEOUS and INSPIRING store if I may say so. You should definitely visit, there are SO many beautiful fair trade products, and more added every day!

It's so nice to see such a variety of affordable fair trade products in one place. Energy, Spirit & Hope has definitely managed to gather the best of the best, and with FIFTEEN different product categories there is something for everyone! Would you like to start your day with fair trade coffee? Jennifer has quite a few delicious varieties available. Art? Got it! Accessories? Got it! Toys? Got it! I could go on and on, but I think the point has already been made: you WILL find something for you, as well as for your loved ones.

When you visit, do check the Artisans category for an inspiring story about a community of Indian artisans who were being mistreated by their employers at the time, and who found their way out of poverty and mistreatment through fair trade. A truly inspiring and beautiful story.

I'd like to highlight a few products to give you an idea of the beauty of this store. This is really just a small fraction of all the beauty there is to be seen, but I'll try to give you a taste in a nutshell through how I'd see a fair trade day happen :)

You could start your day admiring the art on the right and sipping one of Jennifer's favorite fair trade coffees, Sumatran Organic Italian Roast. She says "The first sip is like a lightening bolt to the body. Over the weekend, my husband will brew it before I get out of bed and the smell alone propels me downstairs." Doesn't that sound like a great way to start the day?

You'd get dressed and wear your gorgeous copper on gold tone cuff bracelet, grab one of the many beautiful recycled Sari bags and head out the door.

The Sari bags are one of Jennifer's all time favorites by the way. As she puts it, "they are stunning, every single one of them. The beading and embroidery is BEAUTIFUL, and so well made. To think they are recycled Saris, [that's even more] amazing."

She also likes the tatami style purses from Cambodia:
"The purses from Baskets of Cambodia are gorgeous too. I don't know what I thought of when I ordered them, baskets? Into purses? Aren't they going to be stiff? Well let me tell you they exceeded my standards. They are so well made, soft sisal grass made into sturdy bags that won't wear over time."
As your day progresses, you'll find it easy to keep your todo lists in check and jotting things down on a gorgeous elegant leather journal.

One of these todo items may even be buying a gift for the house warming party tonight. A wine tote would be PERFECT! There are even wine bottle stoppers you could pair it with. And if the hosts are not drinkers, you couldn't go wrong with fair trade hand dipped and painted candles. And yes, you've guessed it, candle holders are also available, as well as GORGEOUS handmade gift wrapping paper :)

When coming back home, you could play drums with your kids, we all know how much they like noise. Actually, I like those animal decorated drums so much, I might just play with them myself, just as a sort of meditation device.

And finally, if you are like me, you'd burn the midnight oil trying to finish an article, and you WILL need more coffee. There's no more appropriately named coffee than the Sweetwater Midnight Oil! :)

That would be my day. How would YOUR fair trade day look like? Check out Energy, Spirit, & Hope, enjoy the sights, help people all over the world, and come back here to tell us the story of your fair trade day :)

You can chat with Jennifer at:
Facebook Fan Page
Energy, Spirit & Hope: A Fair Trade Experience store


  1. Thank you so much for the fantastic write up mv! You truly captured what the store means to me and the artisans who benefit from the purchases. <3 <3 <3
    Energy, Spirit & Hope

  2. You are most welcome. I have truly enjoyed writing about you and your efforts for Fair Trade and for making the World a better place. You are wonderful! I really hope you can make it to Africa this fall, I like seeing people's dreams come true. And you so deserve it too, YOU have helped a lot of people's dreams come true through your work <3