THANK YOU, my friends, for helping make 2013 an amazing year for me… I had big plans for TAE when I launched in September but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined where this adventure would take me. I’ve made incredible friends and met amazing people this year because of this site, and I can’t wait to see what happens in 2014.
I’m currently somewhere over Wisconsin (I think – I’m TERRIBLE when it comes to geography) en route to DC, where we’ll spend the next several days with my parents and my sister’s family, enjoying amazing food (my mom, an incredible cook, believes food is healthy as long as it’s made from scratch – no matter how many sticks of butter were used in the process. And who am I to disagree with my mom?!), watching movies, taking walks (40* will feel positively balmy compared to the -13* we woke up to this morning!), reading, and, what I’m looking forward to the most, playing with my 2 year-old mini-me niece.
Growing up, my memories of Christmas revolve around the tree and the presents (and maybe the cookies!)… turning on our musical Santa lights first thing on Christmas morning, wrapping my presents perfectly (pre-pinterest) after spending hours at the mall shopping, ripping through the colorful paper to unearth my new treasures, and (oddly) lining up my presents in my room as if it was a store (I guess I was meant to work in retail…). My parents did not grow up celebrating Christmas but they gave us a traditional, magical experience, and I am so thankful for that. These days, we forego presents in favor of experiences, and I’m most thankful to have such wonderful people in my life, who have taught me that all that really matters is spending time with the people you love (especially while eating cookies!).
Thank you, thank you, thank you for spending some of your time with me this year… for reading and supporting The American Edit and American-made in general. I wish I could eat Christmas cookies with each one of you… but for now I will just wish you a Merry, Happy Christmas and New Year!
I’ll be back to regular posting after the new year, and I have a lot of amazing things planned for TAE in 2014. For a glimpse of DC (and maybe even my favorite cookies?), follow along:
I think that local businesses and companies that manufacture in America are incredible. But I think that small businesses that manufacture in America that also focus on doing good for others are incredibly amazing.
Enter Half United. Four years ago, Carmin Black and her brother, Christian, founded Half United as a way to merge their passion for style with their dedication to charity work and community service. With just $200, they decided to build a product line and donate half of their profits to ending the fight against hunger. Their expanding product line is built around the bullet necklace, symbolizing the fight against hunger. To date, they have donated 98,676 meals.
I had the opportunity to speak with Carmin a few weeks ago and per usual, my notebook is a mess, with tangential notes written all over the margins. Always a sign of an interview where I connected with the person, and where I left with more ideas and questions than I had when I came in. Carmin is incredibly inspiring and so devoted to fighting hunger. Which is imperative – around the world, 925 million people are hungry (4x the population of the USA) and a child dies from hunger related causes every 13 seconds. This is unacceptable.
Read on to learn more about Carmin… and then please go check out and support Half United so that we can all help in the fight against hunger.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS?
I love Olivia Palermo’s style and can really relate to the aesthetic she creates.
Leopard loafers, black coated denim with really loud flats, a great black v-neck tee. Really great quality pieces you can wear with anything.
I either wear simple jewelry ( a HALF UNITED fighting hunger piece) or one big statement necklace.
WHAT GETS YOU THROUGH THE DAY? THROUGH THE WEEK?
Coffee. I’m starting to embrace drinking my coffee without cream – you know you are an addict when you don’t need cream!
Journaling or reading a devotional when I wake up. I always have a better day when I do this.
Working out. I feel better and have more energy.
Sleep. I go to sleep early, I don’t care if it’s not cool.
Great music. I love Emili Sande, Lorde, Adele…
Really, having a balance is what matters!
WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Other designers – I love the Dannijo sisters, they ferociously advocate for themselves and have a no-excuses approach to their business. Finding fabulous new blogs. The Feed Foundation and the One Project.
The mentors I meet with on a regular basis – they are awesome people that challenge and push me in my business.
I read as much as possible – I learn so much by using Entrepreneur.com as my own personal business Google! There’s so much to learn from what others have already done and accomplished in their businesses, so I try to do that as much as possible.
WHAT MAKES YOUR DAY?
At work: When I see my team working together and coming up with new ways of doing things that are more effective. When I see us working together towards our common goal – to fight hunger.
Increased sales – because this just means that we are increasing the amount of money that we give away!
At home: fun dinner parties, a great date, dinners with my friends, and spending time with my family around the holidays.
WHY DO YOU MANUFACTURE IN AMERICA?
At first we made all of our products in-house. As we’ve expanded, we’ve had some really amazing experiences working with American factories and I love knowing that I can help revive these companies while we also fight hunger. That’s what it’s all about – helping our neighbors and our friends… helping their families. It’s amazing to know that you are providing a livelihood for your neighbors and to think that you can employ people you are also helping.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER ENTREPRENEURS?
It takes a strong conviction to start a business and feel the odds are against you. Don’t be limited by your lack of anything – just believe in yourself and keep doing.
When you put your heart and soul into something, it pays back. When you half-ass something, you get half-assed results.
I hate when people say I can’t or I won’t. We have a list of words we’re not allowed to use at the office. These words are toxic. If you think these words, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot. If you want it, go after it, be relentless; I guarantee, you will get what you deserve.
Thank you Carmin, for taking the time to speak with me and for all of your amazing work!
Did you know that if each American spent $64 on American made gifts this season (less than 10% of the average spend), we’d create 200,000 jobs? Now that would be a Christmas miracle!
Buying American-made is a no brainer for the holidays (and every day!), but I also like to find presents that help my money work harder… products that are not only made in America, but also have a charitable element. Just as with American-made, my standards are very high for these items – the items have to merit purchase in their own right, and the charitable aspects have to be legitimate and thoughtful.
Some of my favorite products… perfect options for last minute presents, hostess gifts and stocking stuffers!