Herban Crafts' overall mission is to empower people by teaching them how to make their own products, while supporting the health and wellbeing of people and the planet.
Herban Crafts’ social mission is to help address the problem of unemployment, a contributing factor to homelessness, by offering a hands-on job and social skills training program for unemployed women living in transitional housing with the goal of fostering economic independence. Our ultimate goal is to be able to place the trainees in permanent positions at companies in the local community.
Not only will job skills trainees' involvement in a structured program help them to build their resumes and develop basic job skills, the process of compiling the kits, which contain ingredients (carefully chosen for their organic, fair trade, non-toxic properties) will offer an opportunity for them to learn about health and wellness. The coaching process with our jobs skills facilitators (who hold masters degrees in counseling) will allow spontaneous, relevant discussions to emerge in a safe, guided environment. The process of making things by hand lends itself to free flowing conversation. The counselors will use these opportunities to encourage open dialogue about the trainees’ personal challenges and help them develop strategies for dealing with them.
Unlike similar programs, this one will be run as a for-profit social enterprise, so will self-generate revenue, and will not rely on donations for cash flow. And, unlike other programs, the Herban Crafts program is designed to be highly portable – the supplies and other materials can be transported by the program implementers, rather than relying on a central production facility. One of the barriers to participation in job skills programs is lack of transportation. By holding training sessions in community areas of non-profit facilities where our target population regularly gathers, we can bring the program to them.
We plan to start with one partner organization in the DC area, then working with another non-profit partner in New York City. If successful, we hope to see this program implemented throughout the country.
Herban Crafts will be operated as a for-profit social enterprise. The preparation and packaging of natural and organic herbal bath and body product kits will be, in part, by unemployed/underemployed women living in transitional housing.
The women will work in the context of a job skills training program in collaboration with a DC-area-based social services non-profit. In addition to the owner of Herban Crafts, there will also be three contract employees who hold Masters levels counseling degrees who will oversee the training of employees and provide trainees with coaching.
During each eight-session program, participants will learn basic job skills such as punctuality, resume writing, interviewing techniques, positive work attitude, and teamwork. Self-Empowerment sessions and personalized coaching facilitated by the job skills facilitators who will provide a holistic approach to further trainee’s personal growth. The goal of these sessions is to encourage open dialogue about personal challenges and develop strategies for dealing with them. In addition to the structured programming, spontaneous conversations that arise during the hands-on training will be used as opportunities to help trainees’ develop strategies for dealing with personal challenges.
The program, which utilizes elements from evidence-based job training programs, is expected to result in increased basic job readiness skills, work self-efficacy, internal locus of control, perceived social support, and decreased depression for the trainees. Upon graduation from the program, trainees will receive a certificate of completion, a resume, job references from Herban Crafts staff, information on how to stay connected with their peers, and an Herban Crafts kits.
The program is being developed by Mary Kearns, who holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, with a focus on Applied Lifespan and Lizbeth E. Castro, who holds a M.Ed. in Community Agency Counseling. Our counseling team includes Masters level social workers with clinical experience in facilitated multifamily group counseling, crisis intervention and behavior management. They have worked with vulnerable populations including survivors of domestic violence, homeless women in transitional housing and the chronically homeless.
Tipping Point Goal: $1,200
Total Funding Goal: $3,600
When we reach our tipping point, we will have enough funds for the first month's salary for two of the part-time facilitators who work with job skills trainees ($1,200).
When we reach our total goal, we will also be able to purchase enough materials to produce 400 kits (boxes, $880; raw ingredients, $400; packaging materials, $500; description cards, $240; recipe cards, $80; and labels, $300), the profits of which will provide us with enough funds to run the program for an additional 3 month.
Herban Crafts is a join venture between Mary Kearns, of Herban Lifestyle and Karen Lee, of EcoKaren, owners of established crafting businesses. We share a passion for crafting, teaching people about self-sufficiency and supporting the wellbeing of the planet. And as seasoned health and wellness professionals, our mission is to empower people to make choices that help them live their best lives.
As owner and founder of Herban Lifestyle, LLC, a handcrafted herbal bath and body product company that she created in 2008, Mary Kearns’ mission is to promote natural beauty and self-care through handcrafted bath and body products made with natural, organic and Fair Trade ingredients, in attractive earth-friendly packaging. Herban Lifestyle is a certified green business by Green America, and certified cruelty-free through Leaping Bunny.
Mary holds a BA in Fine Arts/Communications and a PhD in Developmental Psychology, with a focus on Behavioral Health. When she is not making bath and body products, she works as a consultant in the scientific review of cancer prevention programs. She is an active member of the green and crafting communities, both in the Greater DC area and nationally. Her memberships include Green America, Eco Etsy, Etsy Earth, and ThinkLocalFirst. She is also on the Board of Directors of the American Sustainable Business Council and a reader for the William James Foundation's Sustainable Business Plan Competition. She is also an active volunteer for Miriam's Kitchen, a DC-based non-profit serving the homeless. Mary presented the Herban Crafts concept at the 2012 Global Health and Innovation Conference.
Karen Lee is a retired Chiropractor-turned-green blogger, and eco handmade business owner. She spends her time educating people on healthy living, both physically and mentally, and more importantly, on how environmental factors affect our health through featuring eco tips and green crafting tutorials on her blog ecokaren.
As a Co-Captain of Team Eco Etsy, Karen manages over 300 members who share the mission of being green and operating environmentally responsible Etsy businesses. She often holds workshop on green living in her community and she recently spoke at Martha Stewart's Dreamers into Doers Annual Event in NYC on saving money while greening businesses. She is a sought after speaker and a writer. She is the managing editor of EcoEtsy and a former editor of Green Living Ideas.
We have eight years of combined experience in operating and managing craft businesses and over twenty years of experience in supporting people's health and well being through our professional work. We strongly believe Herban Crafts will have a positive impact on people's lives, both for the women whose economic opportunities will be expanded, but also for the users of the kit who will gain knowledge for creating their own truly natural products.
Thank you for your support!
~Mary and Karen