Monday, September 9, 2013

meeting the founder...

A couple of weeks ago, a dream I didn't even realize I had came true. Some other Noonday ambassadors contacted me and let me know that noonday founder, Jessica Honegger, was at that time vacationing with her family in northern Indiana. Jessica had graciously offered--last minute--to get together with area ambassadors to meet us and have a little time together.

I hadn't really imagined meeting Jessica up until that time, but when the invitation was sent--I suddenly realized: "I would LOVE to meet her!" Jessica said we could come right out to the lake home that her family was staying out, and she would share appetizers and a boat ride with us. What? Seriously?? Sign me up!

Like I said, this was all last minute. It turned into one of the craziest days of my life--and that's saying something! Around noon on Tuesday, it was decided I would go. Noon... as the kids and I sat at a park, where we had spent the entire morning, sweaty and unshowered. I went into crazy overdrive. Threw the kids in the van, rushed home, got a shower, got changed (seriously--what accessories to choose??). Threw the kids back in the van, rushed them over to my wonderful sister's house so she could watch them until Rey got off work. Hopped into my sister's van (which she kindly loaned me, since ours was on a spare tire) and began driving towards Indiana around 2 pm.

The plan had been to meet up with two other ambassadors at the Illinois-Indiana border, and then ride over to the lake with them. The idea of only having to drive halfway was really what had sealed the deal for me. However, as I neared the border, the other ambassador called: "Liz! Bad news! We just realized where Jessica is is an hour ahead of us, so we are going to have to go on without you." Ugh! Talk about a sinking feeling! A whole hour lost!

Mapquest put the destination about 5.5 hours from my house, and it ended up being 6.5. I pulled in just as the sun was sinking in a glorious, glowing orb over the lake. Jessica was seated behind the house on a lake-side deck with 3 other Indiana ambassadors. As I rounded the house, she jumped to her feet and gave me a big hug. We were all introduced and took a picture together before we went inside for some snacks.

Jessica smiled, "Sorry, girls. I'm on vacation--and this is what you get. I'm still in my swimsuit, no shower, no makeup!" Even so, she glowed with warmth and kindness. She excitedly invited us to watch a video with her. "They just sent this to me, so I haven't even seen it yet. It is the behind-the-scenes video of when we were shooting for the catalog." How sweet of her to share that with us. You can see the video here.

Later, we took a nice, leisurely boat ride on the now-darkened lake, swatting off the hordes of mosquitoes as we all got to know each other a little more. It was so refreshing to note Jessica's sincerity and lack of pretense or awkwardness. She was just her genuine self, having a relaxing evening on the lake. It was also inspiring to see how she truly lives and breathes the passion of Noonday Collection's vision. Our artisans and their well-being is constantly on her mind and in her conversations.

Jessica spoke of dreams she has for them, of desiring to develop a few very deep, sustainable relationships with specific artisan groups--as opposed to shallow connections with many. She talked about the goal of having a scholarship fund for the children of the artisans to be able to go to school--and even university! She encouraged us to never be embarrassed of what we do--specifically speaking to the direct-sales aspect--because what we are doing is changing lives, families and communities. "Just get out there, be bold and don't doubt your impact... I really believe we've only seen the tip of the iceberg in regards to what Noonday is going to be and what it's going to do."

I share this story not to "put Jessica on a pedestal" at all. Not at all. Instead, I do it to give you a glimpse of the sincerity and passion that runs Noonday Collection. People ask me all the time about percentages and "how can you be sure the money is going where it is supposed to go??". (Check out some good info on that here). Those are valid questions, and ones I myself ask and have asked. I left Indiana, after sleeping for 4 hours, filled with excitement about what I am a part of--and what I am able to share with you!

Rest assured that Noonday Collection is a company with real heart for the people it employs and passionate vision for the ongoing development and growth of their families and communities. Noonday is a collection of dreamers who are in love with the power of work, the power of community and the power of hope. I am SO honored to be able to partner with them in connecting you into this huge, global family. It is truly a beautiful thing!

In honor of the Fall launch, Noonday ambassadors have been participating in a month-long "blog train"--with giveaways each day! Today, it is my turn... yay!


I am giving away this best-selling: "Light Layers Necklace, Seagreen":

This beautiful statement piece is made up of strands of green, hand-carved, hand-dyed acai nut beads from the jungles of Ecuador. It represents hours, weeks and even months of work.... a labor-intensive process of collecting, drying, carving, dying & stringing.

Leave a comment on what YOU love about Noonday Collection (check out the whole catalog here ) --or tell me when you are going to host a Noonday show ;) ...  and I will randomly choose the winner on Thursday!

Thanks for reading!

PS--If you're reading this and are in the Peoria area... Tuesday night (September 10), I am doing a launch party for the Fall line at the Bradley LeavesnBeans in Peoria from 6-9p. Be sure to stop by!!