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Well Hello Guatemala!

Well Hello Guatemala!

I love waking up to you each morning; whether in your enchanting city of Antiqua, or breathing deeply as I inhale the peace and beauty of Lake Atitlan, or instantly feel the heat and hear the thud of waves at your stunning black sand beach in Monterrico. You truly have so much beauty to be enjoyed and cherished.

All of the above is a side mention to the true beauty of Guatemala – her people! I spent the day learning and being. Just being. Like any business, Mango + Moose is a hustle and bustle most days, many moving parts and rarely a moment to celebrate and rejoice over the victories. This trip is a time to celebrate! To sit in the company of the makers of our wares is a true honour.

Visiting San Juan:

Aura, a mother to three and a smiling new friend greeted us with a warm embrace before proudly showing us around her group’s newly constructed medicinal garden. This garden is one of the social impact initiatives that Mango + Moose supports when working with this community of Artisans. Accompanying Aura was her brightly decorated binder, and as she shared about the healing properties of each plant she also showed me the colours of thread that are made from each particular plant – an amazing scene that I would soon see!

As we wandered down the small garden lanes, Cecelia arrived bursting with a grin and a small boy tucked into her side, equally as excited with their delivery. Here in San Juan, the village known for its cultural works of art, there was to be a great celebration and Cecelia had made the traditional festive drink Atol de Etole. This only happens once a year so to be able to share it with us was a great pleasure for her and treasure for us! YUM!

Finishing our garden tour, I couldn’t help but wish our medicinal practices were as holistic as theirs. I felt truly grateful for the big chunk of aloe that Aura broke off for Scott and I to ease our bodies with later and sooth our aching burns. Oh when will we learn…. Perhaps in our fifties?!

We arrived at the home of Vicenta and were greeted with many smiling faces and welcoming Artisan friends. Some of these women have been working together for thirty years; some are newer and only have three years experience with the group, but they have grown up learning the craft setout before us.

First we must dye our thread, of course! The dye is made using boiled leaves from the plants of the garden we just visited. Purple coloured water is produced and I learn that this is what makes large batches of bags so difficult. It is impossible to have the exact same colour from one batch to the next, the climate, the time of day, the moon, the leaves, all play a part in making the colour and never will you be able to replicate the exact colour no matter how much one tries. Same amount of water, same amount of leaves, same time of day and voilà – a different colour! A thing of beauty if that is how you choose to see it.

Next we must allow the thread to dry, but we cheat and use pre dried thread! Now from here it gets too complicated for my non-craft brain to even comprehend! Follow the steps in the pictures below and know that I messed up the pattern we were trying to layout at every second turn. Working with Anna and her mom Maria Rosario, I was quickly straightened out each time.

I enjoyed watching Estella as she sat flawlessly creating at her loom! No drama, no flare, just a peaceful work to create a thing of beauty. The hours, the days and the weeks in some cases that it takes to create a particular design is mind-boggling.

And what brought them joy? Seeing themselves and the bag they made for Mango + Moose beautifully displayed in our lookbook! It was so fun to share it with them. I think it is true for all of us that we create because we love it, and we do it for this sole purpose, but to share the beauty with others makes it an even greater joy!

 

This does not stop at the beautiful textiles that these women weave, but continues straight to their pride in making delicious traditional culinary dishes! Once again we were treated to a meal that is a staple at any and every holiday, or for a special visitors like us I guess 🙂

 

I am one of those people who just eats, I forget to photograph it because I am eating it! Last minute I snapped a few shots of the dinner we shared- whew! This soup is an add as you go soup, all the ingredients surrounding the bowl are eventually added into the broth with the cabbage to make for an amazing delicious treat!

To sum up the perfect day, we shared stories of families together and I was truly blessed to hear overwhelming gratitude for the work that Mango + Moose has brought to them. It was said that their children were going to school and that was most important to them. The group also offers classes on gender equality; the affected change of this is huge! The women shared how their husbands are helping more at home, how they see the value of their daughters attending school and are recognizing the need to support their wives in their heavy work loads. Many men will help with the simple tasks of the weaving process. Scott shared with me later how touched he was by their stories and their sincere joy to be working with Mango + Moose. He added that they are Momprenuers just like me! How very, very true that is. We are all women working toward a common goal of caring for our families through creativity this is the beautiful work of femininity.

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Dream. Do.

Dream. Do.

I needed to hear this 15 years ago, so I’m sharing with you in hopes you feel empowered to make choices that support you! Here it goes: THEY DON’T KNOW ANYTHING.  And I think one of the most common ways we self-sabotage is living in servitude to the POWER OF THEY. This shows up in two main ways:

#1. What would THEY think?

How many times have you done or NOT done something because of what you think others would think? This may be bold of me, but is it possible that in some cases, you create stories for yourself about what others would think to keep you comfortable with NOT having to take action for what you say you want?

For example, I didn’t think someone I admired really thought I was capable, so I DIDN’T try to get the gig that I really wanted (‘cause my story at the time was that there was no point if “they” didn’t want me there). The end result? I DIDN’T TRY SO I DIDN’T GET.

DREAM. DO. You do deserve it!

With awareness you can create change. If you intuitively know you have created a story about what “they” might think as an excuse to not step up to your possibility….STOP DOING IT. Take action for what you want. How do you do that? One small step at a time (courage, confidence and clarity will come with action…not before it).

Dream.do T-Shirt and Marble Bar necklace from Mango + Moose

#2. What would THEY do?

You know what is crazy exhausting? Trying to live life based on what other people are doing. Personally, when I start making decisions based on the business and lifestyle practices of other people, I begin to lose connection with my unique way of being.

Being inspired by other people is a good thing. My sister in law is so obsessed with Jillian Harris she will pretty much buy anything that woman endorses on Instagram. While she admires Jillian, she is also confident and expressive in her own right. Her admiration for another person does not diminish her fashionista awesome-ness.

It only becomes a problem when we become so engrossed with what we think about another person that we begin to compare and hide behind the stories we have created in our minds. AND THEY ARE STORIES!

Have you ever done this? Instead of being inspired you feel inadequate. It’s a mental roller coaster of “not enough”. This mindset sucks the life out of your light and all that jealousy and shame detracts from your success. It just does. It’s just not fun.

With awareness you can create change. Next time you feel yourself being sucked into the vortex of comparison and shame….STOP DOING IT. Take action for what you want. Focus on doing one thing today that makes you feel more alive and healthy. Show yourself some love. You can do one thing. #yesyoucan

Remember—THEY DON’T KNOW ANYTHING. Stop looking for approval and acceptance from others. You are worth more than that and only you know what is best for you. You can not acquire faith in yourself from “them” (it must come from you beautiful). Stop hiding behind the expectations of others and don’t let other people’s excuses, successes, beliefs and actions get in the way of you creating the live you know you want to live AND YOU DESERVE. 

DREAM. DO.

You got this!

Dream.do T-Shirt and Sunny Necklace from Mango + Moose
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Bosco's Story

Bosco's Story

Meet Bosco

 

Bosco, like all the Artisans we partner with in Uganda, is a former child solider. He and his now wife were both abducted as children and were forced into Kony’s army (the LRA) for several years before managing to escape. Bosco during this time lost a leg to a landmine, but it doesn’t slow him down at all! He still walks about an hour each way to get to the workshop – arriving with a big smile on his face.

Bosco has a beautiful family with teenagers. He lives in a mud hut home. He said in his quiet manner, “it’s simple but it’s enough.” This is Bosco – he is content with what he has and his one real wish is to send his five children to school. When we asked if he had anything to say to people here, he simply said, “If you can buy our product we can send our children to school.”

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Love Beyond Borders

Love Beyond Borders

ith love in the air and February 14th in sight, I find myself thinking “Really?! A big teddy bear and box of chocolates? I don’t need that to feel loved!” I mean Valentine’s Day brings lovers to celebrate, and friends to cheers, and more chocolate, teddies and flowers fill the front displays of stores.  I get the whole thing. I distinctly remember as a child Valentine’s being a very exciting event, one with much anticipation and extreme preparation. I can recall the immense pressure to pick the prettiest and most perfect Valentine’s cards. I remember spending 20 minutes in Superstore with my mom, obsessing on if I would pick the Disney Princess or the Minnie Mouse cards. It was a big deal! I had to go home and write the names of all my class mates on each one, seal the envelope with a little sticker, attach a chocolate and have them ready for delivery to their paper made “mail boxes”. Oh good old elementary school days!

It’s quite amazing how the meaning of holidays change as we change in our lives. Now I am in my 20’s and engaged, and truly Valentine’s does not elicit the same gravity and attention it used to. I mean sure it’s nice to get chocolates, and some special treatment or even a dinner out, but heck I want that EVERY month, not just on February 14th! I am lucky enough to be engaged to the sweetest man there is who takes the liberty to celebrate our love every week to every month with a special date, and I feel everyday when we talk that we are celebrating. Now I might just be young and in love, but the truth is, not just the holiday based on St. Valentine, or the second weekend in February is necessary for acts of love, or massive teddy bears and chocolate. I see love as a daily act. I see love as a choice, and I also see that many holidays, not just February 14th, make me feel that immense thankfulness I have for the ones I love. I feel that same love on Christmas and Thanksgiving, at weddings, at my grandparents’ house, at my parents’ home, and in my brothers’ company. I feel love when I speak to those who appreciate, honour and choose me in every season, whether that’s the second week of February or not.

“Love is about lifetimes. It is year round, month-long, week-long, day-long, in every second of every day. Love is a journey and a choice. It is choosing those around us, to honour and always be kind, to be courageous enough to love beyond borders.”

I sincerely hope you have a wonderful week and are treated wonderfully with all the glamour and elegance that Valentine’s brings. Moreover, I hope you are treated with kindness, warmth and love everyday of your beautiful lives. 

Love always,

 

Rachel

Mango and Moose

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Meet Jerry

Meet Jerry

Jerry is one of our Haitian Artisans. He supports his mom, dad and five siblings from his work as a quality control manager in Haiti (one of our Artisan Partnerships). The interviewer is our very own CEO Tanya Donahue. 

This short video shares his story.

“When you buy our products just put in your mind you support us; you support us to find more opportunity so that our dreams can come true.” 

This is your purchasing power making global impact. One amazing human at a time. The impact is real.

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Words of Wisdom from Benson, a Haitian Leather Artisan

Words of Wisdom from Benson, a Haitian Leather Artisan

Straight from the streets of Haiti – This story demonstrates why we at Mango and Moose support Fair Trade and believe in ethical business as a way to move our world and people forward through restored hope and dignified work.

It is our privilege to share this story from one of our Haitian Artisan partners.

The dialogue is between MK, the founder and director of the cooperative, and Benson, the amazing Artisan who worked tirelessly to make our entire Mango and Moose Natural and Black Leather Tote collection.

 

Here is his story:

MK: One day a few years ago, I was traveling with Benson to Port Au Prince in the car. I came to love these one-on-one times in the car with this young brilliant person. First he sleeps for an hour, but after that I can count on him for some great conversation. Now I’ve gotten to where I will pull out my phone and hit record when he starts talking.

One day we were driving along and he said to me:

BENSON: “MK, do you know how to keep poor people poor?”

MK: “No, Benson, I can’t say that I have ever thought about that. How do you keep poor people poor?”

BENSON: “Give them everything they need.”

MK (thinking): What? Where is he going with this?

BENSON: “Give them food and clothes and houses. Give it to them and never ask them to do anything for it. That way they never develop their own capacity. That way they never grow and they will always need you. They will stay dependent on others and remain poor.”

MK (thinking): Sure wish I was recording this right now, but if I pull over and turn on my recorder he will likely stop talking so freely.

BENSON: “If you had come to Jubilee and met me and saw me as a young man from a poor family with many children, and you had begun to bring clothes and food to our house, instead of seeing me as a young man who has skills and is intelligent with great capacity, where would I be today? Where would I be today, he asked again before answering. I would not know my capacity to build a company and make beautiful products. I would not be who I am today – a leader in my community and a provider for my family.”

MK (thinking): How could I have not seen him that way? I wonder how many other Bensons there are within clear view in our everyday lives. How many people with great capacity do we not see every day?

Visiting with him yesterday in his workshop and seeing the new space he is building now to double the size of his space once again, I am in awe.

I admit that sometimes his faith and optimism are so much bigger than mine that he makes me a little crazy. He preaches faith to me! When I am looking at the bank account, he is looking at the faithful record of God.

I will always count it as one of my life’s greatest honours to call this young man a friend.

There is so much more I could say about him. I could tell you the ways he is mentoring other entrepreneurs and raising up leaders in his community. I could tell you the smart ways he is investing in his own company and bringing local investors together to invest in other start-ups.

He and those like him are real change makers, this I know.

Shared with you by Mango + Moose Admin

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Small Tweaks. Big Changes.

Small Tweaks. Big Changes.

Sometimes when I see the miles wide islands of garbage and waste in the ocean on TV I feel small. I feel small when I watch documentaries on countries torn apart by war. The image of a doll amongst the rubble breaks my heart and makes me feel powerless at the exact same time. When I hear about my friends Dad who has stage 4 cancer…I feel small. I have learned that my internal response to bad things in this world is to….yap you guessed it…feel small.

One of the biggest gifts of working with Mango + Moose is that I have learned this simple truth: I can make big impact with small changes.

I CAN. Little ‘ol me. You can too. It’s not about travelling to another country and helping to build a school (that is pretty cool though….I mean WOW!). I can’t do that with 4 kids and a biz to run. It’s not about NEVER buying clothes from big discount superstores ever again. That’s tough too when I need to stay in budget.

I can make BIG IMPACT by making small tweaks in my purchasing power choices and daily habits. It’s actually an exhilarating and motivating new way of approaching life in general.

And here is what I am finding most liberating about my own personal mindset shifts when it comes to making a difference. This little statement has helped me jump off the diving board into the socially conscious lifestyle. Ready?

IT’S NOT AN ALL OR NOTHING THING.

I have consciously chosen to use more reusable containers in my kids lunches BUT….I still get my steeped tea in a disposable cup every morning. I can’t quite explain it but my tea tastes better that way.

I have consciously chosen to buy more clothing for my family from the thrift store to help reduce and reuse. I am learning all about the fashion industries negative impact on the environment! BUT….I still buy new clothes from my favourite stores (especially for me).

I have consciously chosen to buy less toxic and more all-natural cleaning products for my home. But….when the stomach flu hits I am the first to pull out the Javex Bleach and any disinfectant I can find in my cupboards.

I can make positive global impact for the environment by tweaking daily choices even if I am not “perfect” or “totally committed” all the time.

What small tweaks to your regular buying and living habits can you make to support helping the environment locally and globally?

How about your purchasing power? Ready to create positive change just by tweaking WHERE you buy your gifts and household items?

If you love to shop the Socially Conscious Shopaholic Challenge might just be for you!

Note: The Socially Conscious Shopaholic Challenge is something I just made up. But it makes me feel better about shopping all the time. I hope it serves you well too J

The more I shop the more I become aware of the amazing companies who are combining the sale of goods with IMPACT. From the environment to supporting artisans to providing resources for marginalized groups there are so many options to use purchasing power for good.

Remember, you can make BIG IMPACT by making small tweaks in your purchasing power choices and daily habits.

Here is just one powerful example from our own Socially Conscious Lifestyle Brand Mango + Moose:

MEET TARA // Tara is one of our partners in India and is one of the many lives impacted by the sustainable practice of making handmade goods. SHE CAN have a smile on her face because the working conditions are excellent, because she is paid a fair wage and because with that she knows she is cared for. SHE CAN support her family and know she respected. SHE CAN go to work everyday confident she is SAFE.

Just by choosing to purchase from Mango + Moose you are directly impacting Artisans like Tara. I don’t know about you but that makes the whole shopping experience so much more rewarding. Truly it is a WIN. WIN experience for everyone involved.

So on the days that I feel small and powerless I remind myself that to create more light and love in this world I need to be light and love myself. From arranging meetings to involve less driving around to spending time with my family to buying from companies that turn purchasing power into positive impact….every choice makes a difference.

Little tweaks make BIG IMPACT. What will your impact be?

Cheers to your own socially conscious adventures!

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Burden My Heart, so I will Act

Burden My Heart, so I will Act

What kind of world our we leaving our children AND what kind of children are we leaving the world?”

It is common to hear that people don’t let their minds go to “that Place”, by this they mean the place of horror that others are currently enduring. A place where others are exploited, used and sacrificed for the sake of greed and depravity.  They know it is a reality and they know it is awful but they truly can’t or won’t let their minds linger in this place or even venture toward it. I can understand this. 

Several years ago my prayer was “God burden my heart with the things that burden your heart.” After many months of God answering this prayer and giving me a glimpse my tearful prayer was “Stop God, please make it stop. I can’t take it.” 

I was living in a beautiful home with an amazing view of our city lights and each night as I lay in bed I could see what should have been a lovely expanse of light below. But instead I couldn’t forget the images of Bombay and how similar the city lights also looked from above. And then as the lens zoomed in on what lay below, the grit of the street below the glowing lights, the Red light district in all its horror of human suffering would silently scream at me. Millions of miles away, safe in bed in Kelowna BC, I couldn’t stop the torrid of images every time I lay to sleep.  I had to ask God to stop it for me; I had to ask Him to help me be a part of stopping this horror for those women, children and yes men living in such a reality.

Now, many years later I still go there. I still go there in my mind. I still imagine that it is my children. I still imagine that it could have been me, and that is how I fight. The reality of this dark world still haunts me, and I am thankful for this as it keeps me motivated. But I am also thankful God did give me reprieve. He doesn’t allow me to see all, to know all. He shelters me from being Him and invites me to be obedient to Him and to do my part. 

So when I think about our world and I think about what kind of children I want to leave this world, I think of a servants heart, of loving others even when it hurts, even when we have to sacrifice and risk it all, go blind and move forward – even when it is dangerous to do so. I think of raising men and women to be moral, to be leaders, to have faith and to be solid in their foundation. 

“I suppose I’ve never been afraid of dying but how tragic it would be to live a long healthy life of security and never lay down all that I am for the one who saved me to begin with.”

I am not the final answer, none of us are. This is not the end of the story and for that I am grateful. But for me, I continue to breathe in and out each and every day, I get out of bed, I put one foot in front of the other and I persist. I persist in the pursuit of equality, of loving others as myself, as I would my own children and my own family. I whisper to the broken- hearted with each step I take “I see you, You are not alone, You are not forgotten.” Together may we rise to meet this call.

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