Learning (slowly) to shop, give, & live with more dignity. Also: Blankets.
I wrote before about the visible change I witnessed in my kids’ want-iness when we had a particularly spendy summer. Now, years later, I have seen a similar difference play out on a larger scale …
We have 3 kids, and when the two girls were little, we were living the student life; as I’ve mentioned, our budget was pretty much “don’t spend money”. We were still rich by global terms — warms beds, full fridge, and all of that. But, extraneous expenses were rare: clothes that weren’t gifted or thrifted, eating out, takeout coffee… none of that.
Now, the better part of a decade later, our impressionable son is coming of age in a slightly different family culture. He’s not living in the lap of luxury, by any means; but, he comes with us to coffee shops on a Saturday afternoon, he sees us replace dishes and appliances that have long run their course, he eats pizza in a restaurant (never mind that the pizza is $5 because we’re there at 4pm — the best deal going — that part evades his observations).
He sees the money (or at least the credit card) in & out of our wallets, and it’s all so… normal.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about our Bangladesh team & the extraordinary work they are doing. It's impressive and exceptional, and most of us think: that is waaay beyond me.
But, maybe our scope is just a bit too myopic!
It has been said (by a few, though often attributed to Bill Gates) that we overestimate what we can do in a year, but underestimate what we can do in a decade. I would go even further to say that we probably WAY underestimate the impact we can have in 50 years, over a lifetime.
The reality is that in most cases, something extraordinary has come as a result of a whole lot of ordinary.
During our oppressive January of illness, one item became a staple around our house: OJ. We’ve never really had juice around our home, except as a splurge for a brunch or vacation or special event. (I know I’m talking about orange juice here, not caviar… I affirm that it is a totally normal grocery item to have all the time for many of us!) But with sick kids & wary parents, somehow it becomes in our home the elixir that we cling to in order to boost immunity and keep something down in low-appetite bodies.
I’ve enjoyed having OJ in the fridge, and it had me thinking, maybe I should start buying it all the time. This, friends, is (a micro example of) lifestyle creep.
"Social enterprise" is the category name for a business that is run for profit (not a charity), but that also has other goals in addition to profit as the bottom line.
I consider dignify a social enterprise: we are motivated by sustainable finances (profit), but also by good. Good for us, good for the artisans making our blankets, good for everyone from stitch to doorstep, good for the earth.
Basha, our producing partner, is also a social enterprise, but with a heavy lean on the social side. There is simply so much need! When you choose to employ people who are traditionally difficult to employ, there are risks and challenges, and most of all: tensions.
In a standard business, if an employee doesn't show up to work multiple times, they get fired, right?
What if she doesn't show up because her husband beat her (again) last night, and she's nursing her wounds? What if she is cradled in a corner, unable to get going for the day — a direct result of the trauma of her previous year, 5 years, lifetime?
Decisions, as the boss, become a bit more tricky, a bit more nuanced.
(listed chronologically by when I read them)
Inexpensive gift exchanges are very common in workplaces and among other groups of people who may not know each other well, like a committee or among neighbors. Sometimes, guests pick a name in advance and are meant to bring a $10 or $20 gift for that person.
In other cases, the gift exchange isn’t actually for a person in particular, but for a general pool where maybe it is traded (opened or unopened) among the partygoers.
In either situation, the result is often a glut of gifts & items that will, in January, be relegated to the back of the closet or the Goodwill pile.
The challenges are many:
I have a pet peeve about the pre-planned gifts that line the aisles of drugstores and Targe-type stores… So. Much. Junk. Some of the worst offenders, imo, are: random lotion sets; bad chocolates; mug sets…
I think that, addressing #2 above, many of these gifts are attempting to go for something more physically substantial. Maybe it feels better to come with an entire basket of a gift rather than something small? The “value” of these prepared gifts (and I use the term value very loosely) seems to be in the quantity, at the expense of quality — like, there’s nothing great about this thing… so let’s just add more of it and make it into a big gift!
With a bit of planning and a bit of thinking, we can have the best gifts out there, without adding to the landfill or going over the budget.
We’re heading into a season of major family dynamics, with holidays and time together and everything else that involves.
People are so complex, and the relationships that we are born into (or perhaps, join in marriage) make for some of the most fascinating fodder for fiction and memoir alike.
I am always very reluctant to recommend anything I have never read, but the truth is, I’m not particularly well-read, and I often recommend the same favourites! #sorrynotsorry! (Though, there is not a single mention below of my oft-mentioned books Dinner: A Love Story, or The Glass Castle. I'm mentioning them here instead 😂)
You may pick up one of these books to feel better that your family isn’t so bad after all; or, to experience communion with others whose families are just as crazy; or, to wish that you were one of the Marches, just for a while. Or, perhaps you just need an excuse to retreat into your own room with a good book ;)
Last week, I wrote about return policies from the corporate level: how businesses create return policies to best serve their customers, but ultimately to increase profits. But, how do we as customers best navigate the "policies" to both protect our purchases & advocate for ourselves?
Behind the scenes of dignify, we’ve made mistakes… PLENTY of them. But, I can’t remember any situation (even when we’ve messed up big-time) where the person on the other end of the phone or email conversation was left disgruntled or angry. In fact, I’m relieved (and tbh, a little shocked) at how cheery and delightful everyone always is, in the end.
And I think it’s because we actually, you know… treat people like human beings.
I had an experience recently (as a customer) that was a wakeup call; maybe “being treated as a person” is not always the norm for online customer service!
This is just one, small story, but I hope that I learned a little something from the experience; maybe it will be helpful to you, too.
It seems obvious that a return/exchange policy is necessary. You never know if something will stand up to your expectations; as a customer, knowing the return policy is a bit like an escape route. You hope that you won’t, but should you need it, you want to know where the exits are and how to access them.
But, while serving the customer, ultimately, the biggest winner is the business: “return policies have [become] as much a marketing tool as a retail standard,” — NYTimes
Well, overall, a return policy is design to maximize profits. And, perhaps surprisingly, there are several ways to earn this result.
My friend Aleisha confessed to me that she had been attending an unusual "club"… for decluttering! There has been an interest around here in minimalism, capsule wardrobes, & the like, so I asked Aleisha to share her experience with us.
We just returned from a 2-week holiday: a mix of visiting friends & family, and down-time with our little fam of 5.
I usually come from vacation with plenty of thoughts on money, spending, and value. No surprise there, because vacation is when you spend the money that you worked hard saving all the time leading up to the break!
We’ve had some hits & misses over the years, both generally speaking and specifically in the ways we’ve chosen to spend our vacation money. This summer was no exception, although I do think that we’re (slowly) learning and hitting more than we’re missing with our wallets.
Here are 5 things I was happy about in our summer vacation spending:
Join our mailing list for good words, great company, & first dibs on new arrivals.