Tap Tap...Is this blog on?
Bombchel had a mighty powerful first year of business, and we really want to thank each one of you for making it this way.
At the end of the year, we like to look back on what worked, what didn't work, and proclaim what next year will look like for us.
Wanna hear it, here it goes:
- Kickstarter! Holy Cow! That's how we got to know most of you and we're so grateful!
- Recruiting passionate, excited women with whom we built our startup. For sure it was bumpy and stressful initially, but anyone who stayed a full month has stayed with us for good, and we see evolution in everyone's physical, mental, and personal behaviors and we are mighty excited to keep that going!
- Telling our stories! We have friends around the world that are close to us through what they've seen in videos, on social media, or news articles. Thank you for caring about what we do and supporting us as we do it!
- Getting ahead of ourselves... We were anticipating a super big introduction during fashion week and instead we had a fun, bite-sized one. It showed us how far we have to grow, but we stand on a foundation of great community to get there! There's nothing wrong with slow and steady growth as long as it's forward moving. Sometimes we forget that.
- We launched the website really late... We were so concerned with being able to meet demand that we launched at the tailend of what would be our peak season. I'm glad we have our supply chains in order now so the spring will belong to Bombchel!
What's up for next year?:
- Spring Dresses! Our women have been practicing tons of shift dresses and cool looks we know you will love! Keep those skirts handy but get ready for great new looks!!
- Enrichment for Bombchel Programs: Business planning, women's health, and women's sexual health are in our early plans. Plus the ladies will start their apprenticeships in the spring! Step by step, we are building entrepreneurs!
- Bombchel goin' INNNN 2017. Seriously. We will be able to lower prices steadily and we hope to just keep flooding the market with good, ethical fashion!
What's your next year looking like?
Last week we had our seasonal team dinner. There were so many firsts to celebrate!
- My sisters joined us! Our first team dinner with Mango Rags was three people. Three years later and we are too many to sit at the table!
- It was Alahna's first time at Mango Rags! My sister came to visit and work for her first time in three years. What a blessing her visit was for us!
- T Girl brought our new Baby Bombchel. It's a boy!
- The ladies made skirts for each other. The most popular style amongst our women seems to be The Resort Life Skirt!
Look at our strong team!
Mango Rags wanted their own photo. Love all my ladies! The women in the factory made our new uniforms!
Patricia, our new store associate, catered our dinner for us AND coined our new motto: All women can work! We're giving you our best Rosie the Riveter to prove it.
What an honor to work in this space with these women!
We were on AJ+ not long after. Check us out!
The Bombchel Factory was thrilled to be invited to participate in this year's Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama at Stanford University in Silicon Valley. We literally had THE BEST TIME EVER.
Head Bombchel Archel Bernard chatting with Dena Takruri of AJ+ and Under Secretary Rick Stengel on Day 1 for Facebook Live.
Besides meeting over 700 other entrepreneurs from all over the world, we really got to make our business shine! Even Secretary John Kerry gave us a shoutout!
Hanging with old friends and new friends, trying to figure out how to spread goodness all over the world.
Gayle (in charge of USAID) and I are best friends.
Daymond John signed our books!
And I really enjoyed spreading the word of Bombchel on this panel of heavy hitters!
It's always nice to spread the word of Bombchel when I can!
We are so appreciative of all the love we've been getting at The Bombchel Factory!
Check us out in the following publications:
WABE, Atlanta's NPR Station
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia Public Broadcasting Station (Radio Interview)
She Leads Africa
Read more about us here.
Here's Beatrice, one of our trainees who lost her husband to Ebola in October 2014. Beatrice shows up early every morning and has quickly taken to the sewing machine. She's a leader in the class and always happily completes her work. Tenneh (who I'll talk about below) is behind her.
Today was the third day of class, and I'll be honest, I've never walked into a room as ready to thank God as I do when I see our beautiful trainees. I'm so grateful to have the money to start off the program, the participants to learn, and the clients to support our Kickstarter so we don't let these women down.
Tenneh, an Ebola survivor, started to get bored and sloppy with the drills everyone has to perform as they learn the machine. She's pregnant and blamed her restlessness on the baby (yes, we will already have our first Baby Bombchel coming in three months!).
When we had our closing prayer today, I reminded each of the women that when we met they told me they weren't doing anything all day at home. Now they're in a program that encourages them to eventually start their own businesses, so they shouldn't take that lightly.
The message I shared with them is that God can't give us more if we aren't grateful for what we have. I told Tenneh her Baby Bombchel isn't allowed to have a mom who doesn't work. She agreed and got back to it. I'm grateful that her spirit allows her to approach the work with a fresh face, even though she may get frustrated at times.
My Bombchels are awesome, and I hope you will follow us on Instagram and get to know them more and more each day! We have fast become family and I'm excited to see their growth, and mine!, over the next few months.
We've been filming our Kickstarter video this week with our newest intern from the Hope School for the Deaf, Love. Love is SOOO beautiful and when we met she had the biggest smile! I want to learn sign language just to communicate with her!
I threw her in a wrap skirt immediately, and I can't wait til she learns how to sew them.
While we were filming, her translator and school principle Mr. Worlobah was signing to her. A boy on the street asked if she was 'bobo.' I snatched my head around and told him 'no she is not dumb, she is deaf, and that's not nearly the same.' He said okay and we continued to shoot.
In Liberia, we have a lot of educating to do. It wasn't that he thought he was being offensive, more that he doesn't know better. He responded like most in Liberia do to meeting a deaf girl. In Liberia, the only work for a person with a handicap is to beg. We are fixing that from The Bombchel Factory.
My favorite free models (my sisters and my mom) and I had an amazing shoot for The Bombchel Factory Kickstarter with James Holder at his photography studio in Atlanta. I love working with family, and you could definitely tell from the set that we all know we're working on something that will be bigger than all of us. Check out some of the images from behind the scenes.