I’m feeling nostalgic going back and looking through old photos during my experience building The Shine Project. Today I want to talk to you about something different. Not about the amazing students we employ, or why I started this company, or new product… Today I want to get a little more personal and tell you about how I grew The Shine Project, and where we are going now.
If you want more background on why I started The Shine Project, click here.
I’m an English major, and a graduate of Arizona State University. I was so nervous 5 years ago before graduation that I was going to get trapped doing something that served no bigger purpose. I’m a very driven person with a mind that goes a million miles a minute, and I knew that if I didn’t feel like my career was making an impact, that I was going to struggle. When I started The Shine Project right before I graduated, I KNEW I had to figure out how to make it work. Newly married, no money in my pocket, but a dream the size of this universe, I told myself I had three months to start making something happen or I would then need to go look for a full time job elsewhere.
The first batch of bracelets that I had my 5 student employees make, who we had just given college scholarships to, cost me $300. At that time, I was SO nervous because that was a lot of money for us. I used Facebook and my blog to spread the word about this new company I started. I sent emails to people I knew, showing them the jewelry, and explaining to them that inner city youth were hand making it and their support meant that they would be able to continue their college education.
I prayed my guts out that week that someone would buy something. We sold out.
Working from my tiny condo with two interns, I knew we were on to something. I wasn’t a jewelry designer. I wasn’t a business guru. But I knew I had enough heart and desire to grow my company.
I’ll never forget the first out of state show we did. It was so small, but at the time I put $250 into the show and thought it was the biggest deal. We sold thousands of dollars of jewelry that weekend, and I was floored. People were responding to our products, and that mean I got to keep giving the inner city youth that we employ continuous work. I wanted to grow bigger.
I started connecting with my followers, asking people to host pop up parties in their homes that I would travel to, so that I could be a voice for the youth I was employing, and then sell the jewelry. I would sign up for little craft fairs and take my little displays everywhere I went. What surprised me the most was the amount of people who wanted to support my little idea. They wanted to support it because they wanted to help the students who were making the jewelry, and it gave them an opportunity to do good.
It was working. We were growing.
A year later we moved out of working from my house, and opened our first HQ location in downtown Phoenix. In 2015 I decided I would invest some money into large trade shows and wholesale shows.
It worked. Not right away, but over the course of the year as I learned and figured out the best way to do things, we continued to grow. I fought my way through that year, trying to not let different frustrations and failures get me down.
We moved into a larger HQ space, where we currently are.
We started throwing larger events. I hired more staff, more students, and made bigger plans for expansion. As I would travel to different cities I would see significant needs. Needs for Shine centers in underserved communities, need for women to feel like they belonged to something that gave them purpose, and a need that people have to have the opportunity to give back and be a part of a community.
The more I traveled, the more people would ask me,
“How can I be involved?
Email after email came in asking, “how can I join The Shine Project?”
For 2 years, I didn’t know. I couldn’t have known because I wasn’t done figuring out where The Shine Project was going. But I knew that Shine gave me so much purpose, and I wanted other people to be able to catch a taste of it too. I knew we were missing a very important piece to The Shine Project. It kept me up at night, and kept eating at me because I couldn’t figure it out. Earlier last year it hit me:
The Shine Project needs to be in every major city across the country. But I can only be so many places at once. There’s too many youth in America who need help to think that this project is just for me.
And I want the men and women who want to be a part of it, to be able to. I want them to be able to know their work matters. I want them to be able to see the direct impact they are having on peoples lives, and within their own communities.
I found the missing piece: It’s you.
I want you to be able to help others shine, and shine in your own lives. I want women to be empowered and learn how to run their own business that helps supplement their families income. I want them to feel like they are getting absolutely everything they want out of life, and I believe that first comes from helping others.
For me, to be able to have a company that serves inner city youth, and also empowers women who join our community was the most amazing realization that I knew I had to make happen.
This is why we launched our new Shine Ambassador program last month. We only opened up a select amount of spots, and watching these women across the country grow in confidence, purpose, and desire these past 3 weeks has proven to me that this was the last missing piece that we needed to complete The Shine Project.
Women across the country are being a voice for inner city youth. They are selling the jewelry, hosting pop ups, and making money… literally JUST as I did it in the very beginning. And now I get to help lead them so they can grow, too.
We are opening more spaces this month, and if this tugs at you, I hope you sincerely look into becoming a part of our Shine community.
Here’s where you can learn more and apply to become an ambassador: https://theshineproject.com/ambassador/
We now have our second Shine Center in Nashville, TN… and they will only continue to pop up as ambassadors are a voice in their communities.
We need you. And I also know that we can help fill what it is that you feel like is missing in your lives.
Get more info here.