Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holiday Tote Set (Half Price!)

Set of four amazing SHONA Tote bags for only $24. That is only $6 a bag!

You can even pick the colors yourself. Just include a comment at check out with the tote colors you want! Or, if you can't decide, surprise yourself with our selection!

Either way, these bags are perfect for the holiday season!

Keep them on hand for last minute gifts, that come with a story, and with real meaning.

We all know it happens. At least it happens to me. Those last minute runs to the Walmart, or the pharmacy or anywhere that is open. Desperately looking for something, anything, that will somehow seem like a reasonable gift.

This year you can support amazing women in Congo, making a real difference in their lives, and at the same time, have a meaningful gift on hand, for anything that might pop up.

These bags are also great stocking stuffers, or fill them with goodies for a special holiday gift bag.

And don't forget all those teachers on your list this year.

Whoever you give your bags to this year, they can go online and leave a message for the artisan. They can watch a video and see who made their bag. They can make a real connection to women half way across the world.

What other holiday gift did you have in mind?

Not sure how long supplies will last so get your holiday tote set today!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Steve Jobs. Our Hero?

In interest of full disclosure, I have never owned an Apple device.

So maybe I am just missing something.

But the current conversations about Steve Jobs are starting to get under my skin.

I know he was a great business man, and that he built not just Apple, but also Pixar, into very impressive companies.

And I am sorry for the loss, to his wife and children and to all those who loved him.

But I am a bit bewildered by the fact that everyone seems to have loved him. Of course, I would expect to find that on the business page of the New York Times, or in eulogies by technology experts.

But I'm talking about regular people. For example, I am surprised at how many of my Facebook friends have posted very personal and passionate messages about about his death.

People are saying that we have not only lost “a great visionary”, but “a leader who completely changed the way we interact with our world”. I mean, these aren't media quotes, this is what regular people are saying. And feeling. That Steve Jobs somehow personally changed their lives.

I've read some of the speeches he has given and he was a wise and well-spoken man. I could understand that people might mourn the loss of Steve Jobs as a role model, a businessman or an innovator to emulate.

But the vast majority of people aren't even talking about that. They are talking about the products Steve Jobs (and his company) created. They're talking about this man with deep love, because he was the creator of commercial products that they love. In essence it is a celebration of iPods, iPads and iPhones. As though our lives could never have been the same, nor nearly as rich, without these products.

Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, died a few days before Steve Jobs. She was a woman who fought to literally reclaim our environment, by planting trees. Moreover she sought to empower local, grassroots communities to re-imagine their place in the world and their ability to enact change in the world around them. In the words that have been used to describe Steve Jobs she “completely changed the way people interact with the world around them.” And by that, I mean the real, physical world, this planet on which we live, and the power structures that often overtake it.

Yet, suffice it to say, I have seen far more comments on Facebook about the loss of Steve Jobs than the loss of Wangari Maathai. That is true even among my African Facebook friends. Most of whom, I'm pretty sure, have never owned an Apple device. And more frighteningly, I have seen more celebration of the “amazing, brilliant, world-changing work” of Steve Jobs than of that of just about anyone else.

Is this what makes a hero in our society? Brilliant commercial products? It this what we've learned to love and celebrate? Apple products are cool and trendy and innovative. They offer some real advantages. But I have also heard many news pieces citing the fact that Steve Jobs was amazing because he took a product, the iPad, that researches insisted the public simply did not need, and made it popular. Is this really to be celebrated?

Apple products are highly priced, heavily branded, and certainly part of our tendency toward conspicuous-consumption. Each new Apple release is surrounded by so much hype that one can hardly help but believe they have reinvented the moon. And each new release inspires endless talk from friends about whether they should upgrade to the latest version of the iPhone. Really? I'm just not convinced that this is the kind of “world-change” that I am looking for.

Most of Apple's products are produced in China, in factories that have come under serious scrutiny for high suicide rates, unsafe working conditions, and unreasonable working hours. No doubt this is an issue that applies not only to Apple but to the companies that make much of what we consume, whether it is electronics, clothing or food. Still, it seems to me that in some way we have become so enamored with the Apple's much-lauded effect on our digital worlds that we are willing to overlook Apple's effect on our real world.

The people who make Apple products work in the real world, in conditions that we are largely unaware of, and should be opposed to. Meanwhile, our own country is spiraling toward higher and higher rates of unemployment. We are angry with the government for not fixing the economy, but what about all of the companies that despite massive profits, choose to have their products manufactured outside this country in pursuit of ever lower wages and lax regulations? And ultimately, what about all of us, the consumers, who are so willing not only to embrace these products, but to celebrate them as world-changing?

The digital world is amazing. I appreciate blogging on it. I appreciate its ability to bring the SHONA women to you. But if your purchases from SHONA helped the women only in a digital world, and not in their real physical world, would you really be so excited about your purchases?

Our effect in the digital world has to connect to our effect in the real world. I have no doubt that Apple products are beautiful examples of technology. But we must start to demand more of the products we consume and the companies we lionize. We must start to examine their effect in the real world, both here and abroad.

Right now, the Occupy Wall Street Protests are slowly starting to spread and gain momentum. I think there is a lot to be said about their demand that we hold corporations accountable. But ultimately we also have to hold ourselves, as consumers, accountable. When we find ourselves falling in love with consumer products, and turning their creators into our heroes, perhaps we should reassess our own values as well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Child-size aprons!

What is your little one wearing?

How about a SHONA apron! Introducing our all-new child size aprons.

These aprons are great for those little kitchen helpers (and we sell matching adult aprons so you can cook as a team if you like!). And think of all those arts and crafts projects that get a wee bit out of hand. Use these aprons as a painting smock and the colors your child adds will blend right in to this vibrant African cloth.

So we are offering a special deal today. Buy a SHONA child's apron. Then snap a picture of your little one wearing the apron. Give us permission to use the photo on our website (either with your child's smiling face, or cropped from the neck down, however you prefer) and we will give you $20 of SHONA bucks. Completely free! SHONA bucks can be used for any purchase in our store, and let me just point out, that at SHONA $20 actually buys a lot! The holidays are coming and this is a great way to start stocking up!

This apron is a good size for children ages 6-10

Meanwhile, all you grown people should come and check out our beautiful new stock! Like this...