"He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist"
I dedicate this blog post to my dear friends in Belize, who own and operate a small business in the smaller village of Burrell Boom.
Burrell Boom is situated on the Belize River, and is mostly known as a place tourists pass on their way to other touristy areas of Belize. It was founded by loggers who floated logwood and mahogany down river. But to me, it is the home of a small business that taught me much about entrepreneurship, at the ground level.
I spent much time with two of my artisan friends who live in this village. Along with just having female bonding time, we worked in the shop behind one of their houses. My friend Sharon is a business owner and artisan craftsman in Belize, and my other friend Melissa, is an artisan craftsman who works for and with Sharon. They are also both amazing musicians and singers, and we often sang as we worked...well they mostly worked...I mostly sang and took pictures, so I guess I was working. I just didn't know it yet, since that was two years before I started my own business.
But I digress. Back to working in the shop in Belize. I would stay once a week at Sharon's, and the three of us would stay up late into the night talking and laughing and praying and asking seriously hard questions. It was a refreshing time for me, having close friends outside of the Base with whom I could just unwind with and do girly things with - like braid my hair and watch Anne of Green Gables. The next day was all business, well not all business, because we had fun as we worked. Once, they even gave me a glue gun to help create frames out of bamboo. And on this particular day, they taught me how to tie the finishing knot in bracelets, made from local nuts collected from the jungle floor.
Along with gluing and tying, I learned just how hard it is to be a business woman in a tour dependent country. During my last week in Belize, I went with Sharon to set up and sell her wares at a local tourist stop. Cruise ship passengers that chose to take the excursion to The Black Orchid enjoyed lunch in a tropical jungle setting. Then afterwards, they could browse the wares of several local artisans before returning to the ship. This opportunity gave me such a different perspective on tourism that I am forever changed.
These people work hard on their jewelry and crafts, and for many, this may be their only source of income. As the Americans and other tourists look through the jewelry, bags, vases, and carved trinkets, the locals are wondering if they will sell enough to put food on the table for their families. In Belize, it is especially so, because there are really only two weather seasons there: hot and wet, and hot and dry. During the wet/rainy season, there is not much tourism, which equates to not many sources of income. So during the dry season, they must sell as much as they can to hopefully carry them through the rainy season.
At my friend Sharon's booth, very piece is made by hand and inspected for quality. Melissa and Sharon have an eye for detail, and craft their pieces with love. I wish everyone could see the creativity and dedication these women have for their art.
The joy they have in their work, the effort they put into things, and the faith they have for their desired outcomes is outstanding. These aren't just shells strung on string; these are works of art. They collect seeds and cut down bamboo themselves. They drill holes and sand down coconut. They paint and they glue. And each piece is uniquely handcrafted with love and hope.
I could go on and on about their craftsmanship, but you get the point. Watching these women work, working alongside them, and actually participating in selling as a "local" to tourists, taught me so many practical and faith stretching lessons I have applied to my photography business. I am still connected with these two lovely ladies, and I hope they read this blog post, dedicated to them. They poured so much light and love into my stay in Belize, and I am forever changed by their friendship.
Small business owners around the world are a rare breed. Their determination, dedication, and passion are unmatchable. Most aren't trying to build an empire or achieve corporate
franchising. Most of them are just doing what they love, creating from their heart, and wanting to touch the world with their creations. They want to make a difference. They want to make an impact, and that starts with their art, their craft, their very selves.
To those running small businesses, I say, way to go! Keep up the fabulous work! When it gets hard, take a moment to pull back and remember why you started. Celebrate every victory, every goal, every achievement, big and small. Stay true to you, dream big, and live bigger! I'm proud of you.
To those with a dream of operating your own business - go for it! Baby steps are still steps. Take the leap and run! It will be scary, it will be challenging, and there will be obstacles. But you will overcome. The world needs what you have to offer, and your soul needs you to offer it.
No matter where you are, from Belize to your backyard, please support those around you running hard after their dreams. They have much to offer and can always use your encouragement. You can be the difference maker today.
Photo taken with iPhone 4, May 2013. Belize.
Copyrighted Reflections of Revelation.