It has been almost one year since we launched the Ambassador opportunity and who knew within one year we would have almost 50 inspiring, stylish, world changing women on our team here in the USA. What you may not know is the very special man behind all their success!
About a year ago, I knew I needed to reach out to some business savvy social entrepreneurs as Noonday was growing at a rate I couldn't sustain alone. I contacted Travis Wilson, the husband to a long time friend of mine. We had met several years ago in Mozambique. At the time, he was head over a microfinance institution that provided business loans to women in rural villages as a means to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship. He then came home to get his MBA at Wharton and spend some years in the corporate world honing his business skills. After several meetings together, he soon realized that Noonday was possibly the realization of the long time dream he had since Africa: owning a business that would make the same sort of social impact he had witnessed during his time in Africa.
His partnership has been key in Noonday's growth. Right now, Travis is currently on an Africa tour of our artisan groups in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda. He is having crucial conversations around operations and business development, and I have again been in awe at how God has provided some one who was so perfectly made for this! Here are some of his thoughts from the trip so far:
Sitting here in the Kigali airport waiting for my flight to Uganda, I am struck that the vision Jessica and I began discussing a year ago is now becoming a fully-fledged reality. The growth of this young company has been extraordinary. So many incredible world-changing women are joining the cause and becoming Noonday Ambassadors across the country. Those who wear Noonday experience the quality of the pieces and find great fulfillment in knowing that their styling choice is improving lives across the globe. Customers are coming back to make repeat purchases, raising their hand to host trunk shows with their friends and often becoming evangelists for the Noonday brand and advocates for the mission. That mission is about providing a distinctive and fashionable style while improving the lives of people from vulnerable populations across the globe. And, indeed, lives are being changed.
I have just spent time in a woman’s simple home in Ethiopia who, with pride and thankfulness, explained how her life has been changed through her work. Previously ostracized by society because of AIDS she rarely left her home, but now she has a reason to get up each morning and be a productive member of her society. The income she has earned has enabled her to gain respect in her community, have the confidence to find companionship with a new husband who is an AIDS widower, and even buy a proper bed and a small television. These stories are repeated in each place I visit. As Noonday grows, so do the opportunities for our artisans. As I share about Noonday’s growth in the US, the universal response from our artisans is cheering, gratitude and hopefulness as they look forward to more work in the future and even the ability to share the opportunity to work with other friends who are also eager to gain a better life.
Noonday is providing what the developing world needs most – the opportunity for individuals to use their skills, creativity and industry to create value and get compensated for their work. By connecting artisans with the US market, Noonday is providing a truly sustainable means to alleviating poverty and improving lives in resource-poor areas of the world. Additionally, our lives here in the US are also being changed by the experience. Customers are finding purpose in the way they are spending their dollars and experiencing joy in being able to share the story of the artisans behind the handmade pieces they wear. Ambassadors have a platform to share with their community about those issues that are important to them (fashion, adoption, social justice, etc.) while earning additional income for themselves and their family. Deep and meaningful conversations are being had at trunk shows across the country every week because of Noonday. Purpose, beauty, and transformation are being advanced because of Noonday. For me, it is an honor and privilege to be a part of this community and a weighty and thrilling responsibility to be building this company to successfully deliver (literally) on our promise to the rapidly growing Noonday community. Noonday is special. That was my belief a year ago, and, today, I am more convinced of that than ever. As a customer, you see that, too. We look forward to delivering the style you have come to trust and a story you can truly join. (follow more stories on our Facebook and Twitter feeds!)