So I’m taking a time out today to introduce you all to my dear friend Michelle and her amazing company Made for You.
What is Made for you?
MADE for You is a multifaceted company focused on working to empower at-risk communities with education and employment. I am currently partnering with Main St Meeting and Marketplace in China Grove, NC and we are developing this model with their graduates from the Getting Ahead Program.
I’ve worked in Human Services for about 17 years and each work experience has given me the tools that have helped me focus my efforts into the mission of my business. With a portion of this work being in churches as well as other charity organizations, I saw an urgent need to move away from a model of taking money and giving it to those in need, and move into a more of a model that empowers a community to change itself. The results revealed success that far surpassed what we could have seen if we just looking at what we perceived as “needs.” By providing real, sustainable, compassionate work we brought an element of social justice and true, lasting relationships. That’s something that a charity could never manufacture – self worth through meaningful work.
What motivated you to start MADE?
I worked with a non-profit in the Lake Norman area that brought small businesses around social justice issues from all over the globe into one place. A place where their goods could be sold and their stories shared. I helped to run the storefront and create designs to better those businesses. Sometimes, there would be tweaks we noticed as a team that could be changed for upcoming lines which would increase profitability. Other times we designed clothing, jewelry, and handbags.
At one point my entire floor was covered in brown paper making these clothing patterns long into the night in order to make deadlines. It’s really funny to look around the room and walk ankle deep from one side to the other without a hardwood plank in sight. But I knew that those designs would build a business that could bring real change in a community. You can’t always beat down a government door and demand they put a stop to sex trafficking children, and while sad but true, money talks. If a business starts paying taxes in an economically depressed area… the government starts listening. I watched this happen all over the world as I worked for this non-profit. My strong belief is that a community has the power to change itself; no matter who is in the White House. One day I found myself constantly daydreaming about my own community, and my director totally got it. She reminded me that she asked me in my interview about how hard would it be for me to leave the community work I was involved in. But, the tools I gained there equipped me for managing the work I’m doing now. I would have never been able to do this without my time there.
How long have you been making jewelry?
Funny enough, ‘MADE for You’ didn’t start as a jewelry company – we have a range of products, which I expect to expand and scale based on our future participants and their passions and skill sets. We currently have small batch roasted Chai Tea, magnesium cream (which helps sore muscles, calms, and aids with sleep), and some clothing products. By far, our most popular products have been our jewelry, specifically our essential oil jewelry line. So we focused on that for our Spring 2019 collection and expanded that line. Honestly, I’ve helped in choosing colors and lengths, picked out stones and worn prototypes to make sure nothing wonky happened with the pieces, but I’ve only been making jewelry since July of 2018. I did lean on a great partnership with Ain’t Miss Bead Haven and they taught me a good bit of what I know now. Their staff has always available if I need to learn additional techniques or have questions of how to pull off my pencil drawn designs.
Michelle is giving all of my readers 20% off any product through 2/28! Just use LMM20 when you checkout.
All images copyright Rachel Fesko – cannot be used without permission