Not many people know what I actually do, so I always get a ton of questions about my job. You work at Trades of Hope? What do you do there? What is Trades of Hope? What's a home party? How did you start working there?
Do you have a second for me to share a little more, friend? Yes? Okay, sweet.
When I was 17, I co-founded Trades of Hope with 3 other incredible women. We empower women out of poverty all over the world. We work with over 13,000 artisans to create handcrafted, fair trade products. Many of these artisans are survivors of abuse, sex trafficking, and severe poverty. Sustainable business is a way for them to grab hold of their destiny and make change for their families and communities.
Once here in the United States, these products are sold through Compassionate Entrepreneurs. These Compassionate Entrepreneurs make a percentage of what they sell, helping them feed their family while giving them the opportunity to create sustainable work for artisans worldwide.
I've been so privileged to watch this small idea grow from a tiny storage unit to growing over 300% into a national movement. With thousands of artisans and thousands of American women partnering together, we have truly made change for women all over the world.
For a good part of the last 7 years, I have served as the V.P. of Operations, along with being a founder. My passion is in helping women become all they were created to be....and I love that systems and processes can be the place that ideas like this fully come alive. I've spoken at colleges all over the United States to young people who ask me the same question - how did you take an idea and make it a reality?
There are many answers to that question. Most of that answer is 'with help,' because none of us do anything great alone. But there are a few effective strategies that I had to learn the hard way that have helped me.
So, you, yes I'm talking to you! The entrepreneur, you teenager/twenty something with an idea, you dreamer, you party starter and movement maker.....the question I'll answer is
how do we truly start a lasting movement?
Here are 5 things I believe a movement is built on:
1. How do you meet a need?
All great movements are because the world is not how it ought to be. If the world was alright, we would have no need to change it. But alas, this can be a crazy place and we need change makers. Business ideas are so much easier when you care so passionately about that subject. Ask yourself....would you represent your idea even if you hadn't come up with it?
If you don't care about your idea enough to sell it, no one else will. If it doesn't solve a need for you and for others, it isn't necessary. You should be the best salesperson for your idea before you expect anyone else to be. And when I say salesperson, I don't mean the beating-people-over-the-head kind. I mean the overflowing-with-joy-and-passion-about-what-you-believe-in kind. Don't expect others to care if all it's about is money. It's gotta be more than that to you.
Got this one down? Okay, check! Let's move on.
2. Lasting movements are built on the back of discipline
If you are consistently coming up with hundreds of new ideas and forgetting your old ones, nothing will ever be accomplished. If you are going to build a following, a team, or an influence, you've got to stick with something. No one can follow a scattered leader or idea. If you wake up every day with no plan or idea on where you're going, no one else will get there with you.
The idea of being an entrepreneur is glamorous. Most of the time, it's you sitting for 15 hours on a computer or in a storage unit packing boxes. But even in the i-haven't-showered-for-days-and-wanna-throw-my-computer-at-a-wall moments, will you stick with it? Can you have the discipline to stick with one idea and not one hundred? Have the strength to wake up in the morning and stay with your plan. If you're all ideas, you are just a dreamer. If you can pair ideas with willpower, you are a true entrepreneur.
If you aren't passionate enough about your movement to stick to a plan, show up on time to meetings, go to work everyday, and not quit when it gets hard, you probably don't care enough about it. Sacrifice is always involved, so we have to get used to it and embrace it. It'll make us better.
3. You don't have to know all the answers, but you have to know where to find all the answers
We have a phrase at Trades of Hope that I coined for us. It's called scrappy determination.
Urban Dictionary defines scrappy as "a person who is little but can really kick some butt." (Ahem, I substituted butt instead of the original word, you're welcome.) But it's true. Scrappy determination is the kind of attitude that says "I know I'm the little guy/girl and don't have all the answers, but I'm not gonna quit until I figure this out."
We live in an age with so much knowledge and information. We just need to learn how to utilize it. Within the first year of starting Trades of Hope, I had learned how to make a website, create photoshop graphics, market on facebook, basic software programming, how to write business plans, do basic accounting, and write training material for those that sell our product. Am I genius? Nope. I don't even want to tell you my SAT scores quite honestly.
But I know where to get answers. And I'm scrappy. I don't quit. You want to create a movement? Don't quit. Google. Watch youtube videos. Call a buddy who knows how to do that hard thing. Read books. If you consistently know how to get the answers you need, you'll be the little person who can really kick some butt.
And you need some butt kickin' powers to start a movement.
4. Start ASAP
Stop with excuses. Stop with the 'I'll start when I get my degree, when I study enough, when I develop the perfect business plan, when the wording is perfect.'
I was the girl in college who had to get a perfect grade. My husband and I got married before we finished school and he revolutionized my student life when we married. He was a pretty good student too, but he finally told me "CHELSIE, YOU ARE TRYING WAY TOO HARD." I was exhausting myself to get a 100% and was neglecting the other exciting things I could be doing. So I stopped being a perfectionist and I started getting 90s instead of 100s. I enjoyed my life way more and had way more time to spend on my business.
Give 80% effort and stop being a perfectionist. Just start. Don't wait until you're ready. Just go. Be efficient with your time and give up dotting the i's and crossing the t's all the time. That just leads to paralysis.
Also, many share with me that they could never do what I do because they deal with way more fear. To be honest, fear and anxiety is normal when stepping out. I deal with fear on an almost daily basis. Everyday I am doing something new and scary. Whether it's speaking at the University of San Francisco in front of professors and academics to traveling to remote areas in developing countries, I am consistently very AFRAID. My personality doesn't like change and I'm a worrier. Truthfully, I almost-throw up every time before I speak. I'm an average person. What makes me different and this movement work? I do things even though I am terrified.
Stop waiting to be perfect, prepared, and unafraid. It won't ever happen.
Do it anyway.
5. Find your community, tribe, family, and those who have your back
As stated above, starting anything is terrifying. I'm a Jesus follower, and so I do believe that whenever you are do something great, Satan will attempt to attack you at every turn. Though I'm young and don't always share intimate parts of my life online, I've had to walk some hard journeys the last 5 years especially.
When you do anything great, the process is hard, refining, and will try to break you. Stay kind. Stay gracious. And find friends.
Nothing great is done alone. Nothing. All of us have pieces to our personality that need a little help and others can stand in that gap for us. Without incredible partners in business, I wouldn't have been able to pull Trades of Hope off on my own. Without team members that believed in the vision, it would have stayed a dream.
So if you want to go anywhere, recognize that you aren't a one-woman-show. You need others. So don't belittle them, make them feel dumb, or isolate yourself. Successful movements are created by a bunch of people linking their arms together and saying "we believe in this and can make this world better."
So find your people that will walk with you through hardships, call you out when you need a good slap upside the head, pray with you, proof-read your crazy ideas, help you execute your dreams, and pretty much love you even when you stink. (Holly, Gretchen, Elisabeth, & Home team....shout out and I love you ;)
I love what I do at Trades of Hope. Truly, it is my dream job. But I believe a dream lives within all of us and I'm passionate about helping other young people live the dreams God has put in their hearts. Have a question about business, entrepreneurship, or living in your calling? Subscribe to this blog or shoot me a question at my contact button above. <3
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3