One week into 2021.
Without a doubt, our anticipated and planned-for calendar days in 2020 were gratuitously stolen and replaced with far too many uncertainties, injustices, unrest + casualties than any of us would have preferred. No one was left untouched by the sorrow of our shared year. The difficulties took a toll.
Personally speaking, there were (and continue to be) hardships within our family and our small business. MudLOVE, like so many others, was not left unscathed. We are all a little banged up and bruised from the year.
At the start of 2020, we ventured out as a husband & wife team, leading at MudLOVE in a capacity that we had never before in the past 11 years. With renewed hustle & grit and the scrappy entrepreneur spirit we have had in our tool belt since becoming founders, we set out to inspire our team.
And then. Sales, website traffic and community interaction came to a screeching halt. In one day. After the State of Indiana issued a quarantine, most of our team of 34 people were furloughed. Our payroll shifted overnight to a team made up of the two of us, and our creative marketing department of two others working from home (all being paid a new rate of minimum wage).
Our four active boys (we don’t know what quiet spirit, reserved-kinda children are like) were now home from school and we joined our community in being involuntarily led into homeschooling, online-learning. Rest assured, from that point forward, our boys learned more about running a business during those crazed days than math. We share one of the many lessons in gratitude from the year alongside all parents: teachers are angels among us.
It wasn't quite the hustle and grit we had in mind for our year when we turned our boys’ playroom into a makeshift shipping department. I suppose it makes some sense; at times it feels as though we're playing dress-up as business owners.
Quite honestly, it didn't feel too different from the challenges we typically face as accidental business owners (slash) untrained entrepreneurs. We already spend the majority of our days in the unknown as we strive to make our way and learn as we go. We're experienced pivot-ers. (We tried to save the world from one more blog post with the word pivot, the word every.single.business.owner has chosen to describe the ways in which we moved & made decisions when our world turned upside down. But at last, we could not.)
We all found ourselves living in a world that's very much divided, experiencing unfathomable pain and uncertain circumstances. Yet in the midst of it, we paid attention, and if we took the time, we were all the recipients of a gift. The gift of gratitude. Gratitude for the many silver linings and moments of grace that swirled around us.
The MudLOVE Silver Lining? We were able to do what we do best. Simply put, MudLOVE uses ceramic products to love others because we believe love changes the world. For 11 years, our community has used our products to encourage others through difficult days, to inspire others to take action and to love others with a tangible gift when there are "just no words". It was such a time as this.
We encouraged loving one another and created a unique product with dear friends, offering our community give-back care packs to send to friends & family.
We took action by sending 1,018 “hope” bracelets to front-liners in the fight against COVID. Read the Delp's story HERE.
We stood for equality with the Black community and made the much-requested “Black Lives Matter” and “=” bracelets available for all, at our lowest price possible. Read more HERE.
We seized the opportunity of time to reflect & write a company manifesto, clearly stating our purpose and beliefs. Read our manifesto HERE.
We re-organized roles and systems within our company, making it possible for our friends at Vida Plena (women that have found dignified work in the Dominican Republic) to remain employed weaving Viona bracelets.
We gave 91,164 weeks of clean water to those in need, in the Central African Republic, through our partner Water for Good.
Most of our team made their way back to our studio after our mandatory quarantine ended. We all stayed healthy and our doors remain open. We are thankful and humbled to have played a small part in encouraging others throughout a difficult year, through our handmade products.
Standing on the horizon of a new year, we have much to look forward to. New products are currently in development, plans for new partnerships are underway, fundraising campaigns are getting a facelift, just to name a few.
Since our foundation, MudLOVE has run off the support of a beautiful, loving community. That’s you! We hear your stories of inspiration day in and day out and have hopes to share more of them with you in 2021. We are grateful for you and appreciate the continued passion for the products we handcraft with you in mind. Sending you all the love and prayers for health & safety in 2021.
Luke & Whitney