After all the delays, the headaches, the heartaches, the fallen through deals, the lying & cheating and stealing... I'm finally closing on my new house today!
Now I'll be at 2837 Highland, Berwyn, IL 60402 -- I'm still 20 minutes from downtown for you potential visitors.
You can see my lovely new home here: http://picasaweb.google.com/brentwhistler/MarchApril2009#
Hey - Since I have to move: Can somebody buy this LOVELY TABLE so I won't have to move it?!?! It is just stunning and there's not another one like it in the US!
Well -- don't forget to scroll down to my other recent post and watch the Air Supply spoof..
Besos - Brent
It has been a busy few weeks for ArteVida. We got another big shipment in and are now looking into sea shipping (pallets or containers) to keep up with forecast demand.
We are the newest members of Chicago Fair Trade! Yea! We had a big event to celebrate World Fair Trade Day on Monday, 5/4 (WFTD is 5/9, but the event was on 5/4).
To celebrate ACTUAL World Fair Trade Day (yesterday), guess what I did?
I got out my tools and went to constructin'! Believe it or not, we now have a street store! Well, kind of. We are the newest merchant at Galleria 1712. It's located on 1712 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL. It's near the corner of Paulina.
This is a big milestone for us, as it gives us a permanent presence and a place for us to send our customers to when they ask where our store is!
Here are some pictures I took over the past two days of the evolution of our space. It's only a 6' x 3' space, but from small beginnings come big ideas and a big fair trade future!
See the rest of the pictures here:
As always -please remember and remind your family members and friends: A fair trade gift doesn't cost more than buying something at the department store, and you are likely to get something with a story that the recipient will feel good about. A gift with a story is so much better than a doohickey from the mall.
Please visit our website at www.artevida.com!
Wow guys! It's been a long winter. You haven't heard from me forever.
So ... the day job is going great. I'm much busier than I want to be. The economy hasn't hit me there yet.
ArteVida's going OK -- the doors are still open, and we are launching some new marketing campaigns. Check out what is going on on ArteVida's blog.
I'm nostalgic for the good old days when I washed my clothes on cement and hiked through jungles and socialized with my Peace Corps buddies & Honduran friends.
Anyway.. what else is on the update list? Hmm.. Well - I'm looking for a new house, so look for news of that soon. I'm going to buy a 2-flat, I think (a duplex to you people west of the Mississippi). It doesn't cost much more than a plain old house, so why not make it an investment.
I know I said I would never buy anything again, but I just can't resist. Prices are pretty good right now.
Hey - if you will do me a favor, please send me contact information for any executive directors of non-profits that you know. I promise to contact them personally and not spam them. I am looking for participants in our pilot fund-raising project at ArteVida. Basically how it works is, the organization doesn't have to do a thing except send a link to a page created for them on our website. Their members / patrons can click the link and forward to their friends, and a percentage of all sales generated from the partner organization's page will be donated by ArteVida to the organization.
Anyway... back to the grindstone. Lots of work to do. I miss all of you, my friends and loved ones, as I sit here alone in my apartment in Chicago and contemplate my purpose. I had forgotten what it was, because you guys aren't around. My purpose is to be a good friend & family member.
So - I'll try to stay in better touch, and y'all Denver folks look for me when I'm in your town on the 27th-30th.
Abrazos & Hugs!
So .. the latest updates in Brent's world are:
Most of you probably already know this and have already received an e-mail: ArteVida, my new business that I launched with two other former Peace Corps volunteers, is up and running! It's about time. This was a hard business to get off the ground, because we ain't never had a business before and our suppliers are a little bit new to exporting, pricing their merchandise and organizing information.
It's been a great learning experience. I really thought we'd get at least 50 or 60 orders during the pre-launch sale, but the reality is we have only received about 1/3 of that. We think that we'll be able to keep the business from going down the tubes by just being patient and VERY careful about our investment in it.
Check out the pictures from our sushi party last night (bummer none of the pics have me in them), but my roommate & business partner, Peter, friends Katy & Liz and our sushi look great!
Monday the 10th is the day we finalize our orders with our suppliers, so if you planned to order and didn't, you'll want to so by then. Otherwise, you might not receive your order in time for christmas.
In other news, I know you won't believe this, but I'm selling the scooter and the bus. They both have served their purposes in my life, but now I'm finding that if I'm leaving my little village, I need a car with heat and low gas mileage. When I'm in the village, I don't need motorized transportation at all, because most things are walking distance.
I have a new focus in my life to simplify things. Believe it or not, I have complicated things greatly since I got back from the Peace Corps, and I think I want to rewind to that simpler time and just stop having all these things to maintain! Plus, why am I paying $50 for a parking spot for a car I don't even need?!
If you know someone who is interested in these vehicles, just send them my way. Here are the links to the ads:
Hey - for those of you on Facebook: If you are not my friend already, look for me there & friend me!
I keep saying, "I gotta take some pictures before I can post a blog entry" .. but this is ridiculous. I'm thinking, "maybe I should let people know I survived the move."
It's been so long, y'all probably don't even care anymore.
Well, I'm here. I live in Oak Park, IL now. My phone number is still the same, but I'll be changing to a 708 number soon.
I LOVE IT HERE! I feel like I was meant to live in Chicago. Oak Park is sort of like Chicago but more expensive :-) -- It's about 1 mile outside of Chicago, so it's still on the EL (very last stop on the green line), so I can get downtown (the real downtown) in 20 minutes or so, but I don't need to cuz I have my very own downtown right here! And I live 3 blocks from it.
I pretty much only use my car on rainy days now. I've been riding my scooter to work, even though I'm doing so illegally (apparently, I don't weave in and out of cones well enough, so I didn't qualify to be properly licensed yet!).
I hope some of y'all will come visit me. Miss all my Honduran friends! Miss all my Denver friends! Miss all my other friends.. and family..
I'll write again soon and include pics of my place etc..
By the way - I'm working as a Microsoft Dynamics consultant at Merit Solutions now, and the ArteVida business is still a go.. just a little delayed. Jonathan, my business partner, is in Honduras today bangin' some heads together (not really). Sneak preview our store as it's really going to look at www.artevida.com/cs-cart (but don't order anything yet!).
The trailer is ultra cool. Help me sell it. The ultrasuede fabric alone is worth more than the whole trailer! See the craigslist ad and all the pictures at http://denver.craigslist.org/rvs/667274535.html.
See all the pictures in the ad at http://denver.craigslist.org/apa/669633831.html
We went to see the B52s last night. They still sound great, but they look like hell (I guess we all get there sooner or later, don't we?). Except for Keith Strickland, their songwriter, guitar player. He's 54, and he looks like he's 28! I think he discovered moisturizer back when it still came in tins. These guys put on a great show, just like they've been doing for 30 years. We got autographs!
Wow! Things are taking off. I'm living like a hobbit in Gene & Troy's basement (the ceilings are about an inch shorter than I am in places), but the bed's so comfy!
I've been crazy running around getting things done, because I'm moving! Yep - I got the job in Wheaton, IL. I'll be moving at the end of May to start work 6/2.
The new business is coming along nicely too. For those of you wanting to know more about the kinds of things we'll be selling, visit www.artevida.com.
No time to write more right now. I've got to get going on today's chores!
Miss you all lots (except for those of you I've just seen recently).
My last days in Trujillo were really fun, really interesting, really busy and really sad. Some of you know that at times I was down on Trujillo and not mentally fit to continue being there. I spent a lot of time frustrated and depressed. But I fell in love with the place (sort of a love / hate sometimes!) and it was a lot harder to leave there than I thought it would be. It's been a long time since I have been as much of an emotional wreck as I was on Wednesday morning when I left for the last time. But my relationships with the people here live on, and I will be back to visit -- probably sooner than I think!
Here are some pics of my going away party and some of the people that were important to me in Trujillo (click any of the pictures to see a larger version):
Right now, I'm in San Juancito. SJC is a mountain mining town (actually, the mines closed in the 50's, I think) about an hour outside of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. It's a really relaxing place at the foot of La Tigra national park. I'm sitting in the living room of my friend Regina's guest house soaking up the cool morning breeze and sunshine while I enjoy a cup of coffee and look out at the expansive view of the valley below.
Here's the guest house where I am staying, me in front of Regina's house and me & Jonathan with some local kids - students of the Magic School (no, they don't learn magic there).
It sounds like vacation right? Well, it feels a lot like vacation, but it's actually been a lot of hard work being here. Well, it hasn't been the kind of hard work you stressed-out gringos are used to, but still. I came here with my business partner, Jonathan, to work with Regina Aguilar who owns a company called Invitro and manages a community foundation called Fundacion San Juancito.
Here's some pictures of us running around San Juancito working with Regina (Really! It was work! See me walking down the dusty streets of SJC with her? We're talking high-powered business negotiations!). The picture of Regina on the floor is of her working on a huge mosaic tile installation that will go on a pedestrian walkway in the capital.
Invitro is the group we are going to be working with to source products for www.artevida.com. It has been a lot of fun to be here, see the workshops, learn about the manufacturing processes and meet some of the people involved. The students of the school / workshop that manufactures Invitro's products actually BUILT THE WORKSHOP with their own hands. The workshop provides over thirty great jobs to the local community and an immeasurable benefit to the local economy. The artisans that do the work attend classes for several years (at the expense of Invitro and the foundation) in order to learn the skills necessary to produce Invitro's products with the hope that they not only learn skills necessary to work with Invitro but that they also become artists in their own right.
Here's some more pictures of the workshop:
The foundation finances and manages a lot of community projects. My favorite is the Escuela Magica or Magic School. This is a school where kids come from all over this village and surrounding villages and as far away as the capital to learn about the arts and to participate in creative activities. They learn wood carving, painting, drawing, ceramics, dance, literature and a whole bunch of other stuff. A community fair that will take place at the end of this month will help keep it going for another year. Regina says these kids ceramics are incredible (I didn't see them), so I have asked her to have the kids work with us directly when they are ready, so that we can import and sell their products. I could do it through Regina, but I want these kids to have the experience of working directly with their exporter. Another project in the community is the Phantom Bus. Developed in conjunction with the Peace Corps, Invitro and the Fundacion San Juancito, this bus is a welcoming point to tourists and other visitors. They've got food, tourist information and products made by various groups in the community. It's a really brilliant way that the community can highlight its local products and welcome visitors.
Here's some pictures of the phantom bus and the Escuela Magica:
Check this out - some more sneak previews of things that ArteVida will be bringing to you.
Sushi dishes and accessories:
River rock lamps and candles:
Tealights made with handcrafted paper:
Well - I hope everybody is well. I'll be seeing you next week, Denver folks. I'm looking forward to it! I can't wait to settle back into my new life as a super-busy, overworked, overcommitted, crazy gringo.
Categories: ArteVida - Our web business
I write here to share, to vent, to make people laugh, to keep myself sane and just for something to do. I worship my readers who have stayed with me all this time. You guys keep me going! I love you forever!
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