As we enter the third week of January already, I’m finally able to sit down and reflect on the month past along with my wishes ahead for the new year. Holiday decorations finally put away, kids back at school and 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE‘s new Valentine’s Day collection up on the website, I have a rare Sunday afternoon free to myself. December was a blur of activity with holiday sales events and a lot of birthdays to celebrate along with Hanukah and Christmas. And then there was the morning of December 10th, when unbeknownst to me, our metal angel candleholders from Haiti were featured on the homepage of Yahoo!
Thanks to guest blogger Starre Vartan from the Mother Nature Network, I woke up that morning to find sales on fire and our phone ringing off the hook. Finally one of our customers shed some light on the phenomenon when she asked me how we got on Yahoo’s home page. I hadn’t a clue, I told her, but I think it has something to do with an angel. We quickly sold out of all our angels in less than an hour and I called my partners Karen and Colvin from By Hand Consulting and Keith from HAND/EYE Magazine to see what we could do. Of course we wanted to to try to fulfill as many orders as possible, helping our artisans in Haiti during this difficult time and getting these beautiful small works of art to our customers in time for the holidays. Unfortunately, as much as we wanted more angels, the political unrest in Haiti shut down all business during most of December.
Our artisans in Haiti assured us they’d begin work on a new shipment of angels in the new year once the situation had stabilized. I called and emailed as many people as I could who had wanted our angels but had not been able to purchase them before they had sold out. I spoke with customers about their personal connections to Haiti and was quite moved by their stories. One woman told me about the work her brother had done this past year as a doctor in Haiti. While he was working there a man had asked him to take his daughter back to America in hopes of a better life. While obviously her brother was not able to take the child, he often thinks about the people he met there, and his sister wanted to give him a special remembrance. Another woman I spoke with wanted to give an angel to her son’s care-givers who are from Haiti. I was happy to have found a couple extra candleholders to send to a few people who first called me that morning, and carefully made a list of others who were willing to wait. In the meantime, I had a lot of packages to ship! Thankfully my older daughter Johanna and her friend Alina had just come home from college for the winter break and we all packed boxes together that weekend.
After I shipped our last orders on December 23rd, I finished my own gift shopping and enjoyed the holidays with family and friends. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner there was not a lot of time to relax, and my friend Mark Johann helped me photograph our new artisan collection on New Year’s Eve day. We are offering a lot of wonderful hearts from artisans in Haiti, Kenya and Guatemala along with red and pink jewelry from Ghana and Colombia, plus fun silk scarves from Vietnam. Mark and his friend Mario did a great job shooting the collection and Elane from Look Models looked terrific in all the different scenarios we shot.
As we look forward to the year ahead, I am excited for all the possibilities for 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE. In addition to our collection for Valentine’s Day, we will be adding new products for Mother’s Day and Summer, and we are already starting to plan for Fall/Holiday 2011. (I know there will be some more angels in our future!) For now, I look forward to shipping hearts from Haiti and other communities of artisans in need around the world, sending gifts of love this Valentine’s Day. And next month, as the trees start to bloom in San Francisco, we’ll be shipping more angels from Haiti to our patient customers-in-waiting, sending along our thanks and hopes for a more peaceful and prosperous new year.