The Definitive Shema Update

We’ve got some exciting news for Shema! Join co-founders Adam and Alisha on this update journey through our newest developments in our work to empower women in Southeast Asia including: news about our first cooperative, our clothing launch line designs, recent speaking engagements, the expansion of our team, and our next trip to get the first cooperative ready for production.

Shema is our response to a hurting world. We aim to establish 25 sewing cooperatives over the next five years in Southeast Asia, empowering women at-risk and employing rescued survivors of human trafficking. In partnership with these cooperatives we will be producing an ethical fashion line - the sales of which will drive sustainable change and employment in the lives of the women we empower. A percentage of profits from Shema sales will also go to anti-trafficking organizations rescuing those held in captivity. And we are filming the whole thing, so you can join us on the journey….

We Are Needy :) 

At Shema, we are not without needs. As the journey continues, we become more and more aware of our needs - the task ahead of us and the resources it will take, both internally and externally, to see this vision through. And so, here are our current needs:

    Frequent Flyer Miles: Donate your unused frequent flyer miles to the Shema team! These miles will be used to help us get to and from our first cooperative, and then later, to the other sewing cooperatives we are establishing. 

    Finances: Give! Apart from your donations, we would not be able to accomplish this. If 2,000 people give just $50, we will be able to cover our operating costs, see this cooperative become fully operational, launch our empowerment programs, and begin to establish other cooperatives according the the Shema model. 

    Connections: We are looking for venues and groups to share about the Shema project. We also want to learn from individuals and organizations that have a similar heart and vision. Please connect us with anyone around the world. 

    Share: Help us get the word out! Like us on Facebook at Shema.Global and invite your friends to like us. Share this update, our crowd-funding page, or news about Shema on any of your social media platforms. 

Design Prowess

We are only a few weeks away from our first round of prototypes! 

    At Shema, we are consulting with an award-winning team of designers and producers to develop an eco-friendly, lifestyle clothing line to be sewn by the cooperatives we establish. An incredible amount of time and effort is going into finding just the right fit, feel, and the stylistic elements perfect for our garments. Working with this design team was quite an investment, but well worth it - we will have four rounds of prototyping ahead of us to iron out all the details. Special attention is being paid to each and every seam and hem, taking into consideration which machines and quality control measures are needed to produce them. We aim to deliver the highest quality garments possible - but garments that are still feasible for the women to sew. We are outfitting each cooperative with the machines necessary for the production of the garments and developing on-boarding training programs for the women to get them up to speed. This is no small undertaking. Our design house is also helping us source our raw materials in ways that preserve and protect the environment - something that is sadly harder than expected in an industry that typically does the opposite. 

Consulting with Gurus

Along the way, we are continuing to seek the input and expertise of other industry experts and ethical fashion designers. Over the last year we have connected with CEO’s of thriving fashion companies, modern day abolitionists that are rescuing or rehabilitating trafficked women, and non-profit innovators tackling issues like human trafficking in South America or the food crisis in Africa. Adding to this list of inspiring contacts and connections, we recently had the opportunity to connect via Skype with and receive advice from the incredible Jasmine Kroeze, the New Zealand based fashion designer and creator of Pinch & Punch. We walked away from this Skype meeting just beaming with encouragement… not to mention Jasmine offered to continue to give us input along the way! 

Teamwork Strikes Again

We welcomed the newest addition to the Shema team with open hearts this May: Alayna Olsen, our Social Media & Communications Intern. Alayna is a communication student at Metropolitan State University gaining credit for her studies by working with us at Shema - and we couldn’t be more grateful for her help. Already she has shown how her particular strengths complement our small team so well. Alayna enjoys gyros, lions, and drumming, but reports she doesn’t want to be in a band. 

The Emp…StrengthsFinders Strikes Back

    So speaking of strengths, the small Shema team was gifted a seminar in strengths-based leadership training by Impact Lives founder, Dr. Ramón Pastrano. This was such an incredible opportunity for all of us - both challenging and provoking. Dr. Pastrano holds a Ph.D. in Global Leadership, and his training “guides individuals, groups and organizations through carefully designed leadership training experiences that help them become change agents in local and global communities.” Let’s just say our hearts and minds were really impacted. We also laughed when Dr. Pastrano looked down at the results of our team’s StrengthsFinders tests and commented that based on the results of the test, Alayna’s clothing in her closet must be perfectly organized…and he was right. Sorry Alayna!

Sharing Our Hearts

    We have been actively pursuing speaking engagements, sharing the Shema project whenever and wherever we are able. It has been such an incredible thing to see people’s responses to the vision of our hearts to empower women in Southeast Asia. To date we have spoken at an international leadership summit expo, an anti-trafficking rally, a Rotary Club and also at various conferences, churches, private events, and small groups. If you know of a venue or group that would like to hear from our hearts regarding our reformational production model and plan to change the world, please let us know!

Working Our Butts Off

    May marks the beginning of the Shema project one year ago - and we have been running after this vision, working full-time, six (and sometimes seven) days a week for the last year, without salaries. It has been incredibly hard, incredibly challenging, but so incredibly rewarding. We are still underfunded, but that has not prevented us from moving forward - and as always, things (like financial support) seem to fall into place just when we need them to. I (Adam) vividly remember when the phone call came in last September where the finances to cover the cost of our entire product design phase was pledged. I can remember exactly where I was standing and exactly how it felt - like it was yesterday. What an incredibly exciting and humbling moment that was. 

    We continue to meet monthly with our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors. This group of experienced and accomplished business leaders continues to inform, challenge, and help guide our steps. While we are sometimes frustrated when they don’t agree with us on certain points or shoot our ideas down (graciously, of course), we always wind up seeing and being thankful for the profound wisdom they bring to the table! It is healthy challenge like this that continues to drive us to excel. At the advice of our board in recent meetings, we launched an internship program which already is attracting new talent to our team to learn and grow with us in this international social-justice start-up. They also encouraged us to compete in the MN Cup, a startup competition and hub to connect Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We sent in our application for Shema this past Friday - wish us luck! 

At Long Last

    We are headed to visit the location of our first cooperative in Southeast Asia this June, connect with the first women who will work with Shema, and begin to get the existing facility, machinery, and all the production logistics in place and up to speed for the production of our launch line - and we couldn’t be more excited. Well, perhaps we could be more excited, but I think there is ahealthy sobriety we have surrounding the amount of work and detail that needs to go into these next steps that keeps our feet on the ground. Our partners who have been working with this particular group of women in Southeast Asia are so humble and so experienced; it feels like a miracle that we ever connected with them in the first place. I remember clearly a phone call with our partners when I informed them just how long the product development phase was actually going to take (six to eight months). After a long pause, they simply just said, “well, the sooner you get here, the sooner these women’s lives will change. You could take that long, or maybe you could do things quicker.” Having worked in this arena for decades, our partners have a tangible understanding of just how impactful gainful employment is to these women, and how their lives will be impacted by the work Shema will give them. 

 At Shema, we are trying to achieve that artful balance between excellence and progress. Luckily, we don’t have to compromise on excellence, but we have had to lay down our perfectionism. As one of our board members often reminds us “Perfect is the enemy of done.”    

    Our plan is to begin the production of our fashion line with this group, develop and demonstrate the viability of the Shema production process, quality control, empowerment tracks, on-boarding training programs, and secure distribution for our clothing line. We will then replicate this cooperative model in other places in Southeast Asia, in partnership with rescue/rehabilitation organizations. Rescued and at-risk women will have the opportunity to be placed into the context of a thriving community of women, working together and healing together. It is with the replication of this model we are currently building that we believe will be the answer to impacting and empowering hundreds and hundreds of women and their families in the years to come.  ]

 

 

Please Sir, can I have some more?

    Like we said before, we are needy! Here again are our current needs:  

    Frequent Flyer Miles: Donate your unused frequent flyer miles to the Shema team! These miles will be used to help us get to and from our first cooperative, and then later, to the other sewing cooperatives we are establishing.

    Finances: Give! Apart from your donations, we would not be able to accomplish this. If 2,000 people give just $50, we will be able to cover our operating costs, see this cooperative become fully operational, launch our empowerment programs, and begin to establish other cooperatives according the the Shema model. 

    Connections: We are looking for venues and groups to share about the Shema project. We also want to learn from individuals and organizations that have a similar heart and vision. Please connect us with anyone around the world. 

    Share: Help us get the word out! Like us on Facebook at Shema.Global and invite your friends to like us. Share this update, our crowd funding page, or news about Shema on any of your social media platforms.

STAY TUNED FOR EXCITING UPDATES REGARDING OUR FIRST COOPERATIVE AND OUR LAUNCH LINE! 

 

We chose Shema for our company name. A Hebrew word meaning "hear," Shema reflects our vision to hear with our hearts and listen for a new way. In world with industry that is exploiting people and degrading the environment, we are demonstrating the viability of that new way. 

Join us in the journey!