We want to make sure that if you are new to Sew Powerful, you feel welcome and have a good understanding of what we do and why we do it. In this episode, Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles talks about the various ways people find Sew Powerful. In addition, Jason introduces us to a brand-new concept: monthly Meet & Greet sessions conducted via Zoom. During these sessions, you will meet Jason and Cinnamon, learn about Sew Powerful, chat with other purse makers, and have a chance to ask questions. It's all casual, fun, and informative. Look for the schedule on the SewPowerful.org website under Serve With Us > Welcome, where you will also find free downloads and other great information. See you on Zoom!
Welcome to Sew Powerful with Jason Miles
IN THIS EPISODE
Pixie Faire, Sewing with Cinnamon, camaraderie, friendship, Meet & Greet, welcome booklet, survey, fun, asking questions, Zoom meetings, Welcome Manager, sewing, ministry, sewing for charity, Sew Powerful
We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.
Sew Powerful Welcome page: https//sewpowerful.org/pages/welcome
Pixie Faire. https://www/pixiefaire.com
Sewing with Cinnamon & Friends, https://www.sewingwithcinnamon.com/
Apple TV, Roku, AndroidTV, FireTV, Chromecast, App Store, Google Play Store
ABOUT THE SEW POWERFUL PODCAST
The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.
Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Jason Miles
Jan Cancila, Host 00:04
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode, so let's get started.
Hello Sew Powerful podcast listeners. Today my guest is Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles. And we're going to talk about a new program that's been instituted by Sew Powerful, and we have meetings twice a month. They're called Meet and Greets. And it's an opportunity for people to learn more about Sew Powerful, meet Jason and Cinnamon online. But just as importantly, meet each other. And we've just had so much fun with these, we're going to talk about them and how the program was launched and all the parts and how you can participate. So Hi, Jason, how are you this morning?
Jason Miles, Guest 00:59
I'm great. How are you doing?
Oh, just fine, just fine. I want to start out by just making a little personnel announcement to set the stage here. I said in the introduction, we were going to talk about Meet and Greets and how that's such an important part of what we're doing, bringing people to Sew Powerful and making them feel welcome. And to that end, we created a brand new position called Welcome Manager and Betty Johnson, who has served us as the Arizona Regional Coordinator has agreed to take on the role of Welcome Manager. So now it's out there and official and Betty's been been doing it behind the scenes here for the last few weeks. But we're just so glad that she's taken on this responsibility.
Well, and not to be too critical of ourselves, but it's sort of a funny story. We had the idea in a brainstorming session recently that we should do Meet and Greets. And then you said, you know, Betty said that a year ago that we should do Meet and Greets. And she'd love to help with that. And I was like, oh my goodness, what? So, we had the idea for longer in the past, and we've executed on but she was passionate about it. And the stars all aligned finally, and now we're doing them. And it's been really amazing. So yeah, it's been neat to see it come together and have her step into the role of leading them.
Well, and you're absolutely right. And the other day, I was looking for something in my notes from January of 2021. And I found my notes where Betty had said, you know, we ought to have some kind of a Zoom meeting for people who are new. I was like,
Well, it only took us a year.
Which is good yeah because now now we have it perfected. So, let's sort of back up a little bit. People that come to Sew Powerful to volunteer for us, how do they typically find us?
Yeah, well, it's a great question. We have a lot of people coming and downloading the purse pattern. Hopefully they all make purses, but they don't always you know, it's a free pattern out there. We have several ways in which that's advertised. We have a very, very generous Google Ad grant from the Google Foundation. And so, people from around the the internet, around the world search for key phrases related to Sew Powerful and sewing for charity, that kind of thing and learn about us that way. So we get a lot of people who, when we talk to them, they'll say Oh, I just looked for charity sewing and, and found out about Sew Powerful and I've loved it ever since you know, so we hear that commonly. We also have very, very large audience from Cinnamon's business, Pixie Faire, that she regularly talks about. That's my wife if you're not familiar with our story. So, we started a e-commerce company at our kitchen table in 2007, 2008 on eBay and Pixie Faire dot com's [PixieFaire.com] the, the you know, one part of that and then Sewing with Cinnamon is the other part of it these days. And so, she has her own growing audience. Over 100,000 people hear from her weekly, and her videos are now streaming on Apple TV and Roku and the App Store, Google Play, and Apple iOS store and Fire TV and on and on. So, her content is out there really, really broadly. And she has a lot about sewing for purpose and she has the tutorials on the purse making. And we have the stories of people like Frienda, our seamstresses in Zambia. We have those stories woven into what Cinnamon does with her community. So, we do get a lot of people who come over from that who are basically looking for doll clothes patterns or like sewing in miniature, they call it and then they find out about Sew Powerful. So those are probably the two biggest ways I'd say.
You mentioned the Google Ad Grants. I think there's an interesting statistic that we found from thar in that people were searching for free embroidery patterns, which we offer free embroidery patterns that are actually digitized by Peggy Creighton who's one of our volunteers, very talented digitizer in the world of machine embroidery. And so, if you are an embroiderer, you can find us and get several different beautiful free embroidery patterns. So that's another way people find out about us.
And that's just such a beautiful example of somebody using their gifts and talents to help the organization. And so, Peggy does that work, she makes it available to us for free, then we can promote it through the Google Ad Grant, people find out about the Sew Powerful purse program and the need in Zambia for girls to stay in school through the program, and their hearts are touched. And I love that part of it. And you're right, it is one of the things that people search for frequently, and they find the beautiful embroidery design files and jump in with us. So
Okay, so now they've found us. What do you recommend somebody do to get started to volunteer for Sew Powerful?
Well, we've got a beautiful welcome page, thanks to you and the team that put together the content for that. So, I would say hitting the website and seeing the Serve with Us and the first option there is Welcome. And so, we've got the the resources there, you could describe those better than I can. Obviously, they will have probably gotten either the embroidery files, or the beginner or intermediate purse pattern. And so, they'll have those, they'll have their own mission and purpose about making a purse, maybe that's for us, maybe it's for their own use, but they'll encounter the program details. And we invite them as a first step to make a purse and send it in. And then it goes from there. People get involved in various ways. And we really, really want to connect with people through the program. And I think that's the whole point of the Meet and Greet meetings, you know, as well.
Well and we recently put new content on that Welcome page. And it was a little video invitation that you and Cinnamon recorded. And right now, it's living on the Welcome page. But you can expect to see it all over the place as we invite people to join us. I do want to talk about what is on that welcome page for a moment, if you don't mind.
So when you find us and you choose Serve With Us, and then Welcome, watch the video and you get to meet Jason and Cinnamon as a little prequel to what's about to happen. But we have some resources. One of them is a Welcome Booklet. And it condenses into about six pages, the We Are Sew Powerful book, which is about 375 pages, but you know, obviously, we're only hitting the high points, but the booklet has links for you to go deeper, watch other videos, go to other content. Then when we've tickled your fancy there, you can go to the next option, which is you can get the PDF version of the We Are Sew Powerful book at no cost. So, you can download it and read it. Normally the book sells on Amazon for I don't remember the cost around 11 or 12 dollars?
10 to 14, depending on the format. Yeah.
Okay. And so, you can get it at no cost from our Welcome page. And then the third thing we have on there is a survey. And we know that people that come to us come from around the world with a variety of talents and skills and backgrounds and education. And so, it's just a little survey that says, you know, do you have experience in any of these areas, and might we call on you if we have a project that requires these skills. And many of you have taken those surveys, and we're collecting all that information and as projects and needs come up, you can expect to hear from us. So, there we have it. And then you get to the bottom of the page, where we really talk about the Meet and Greet. And Jason, do you want to talk a little bit about that? And what's coming up and how that all works?
Sure, yeah, it's a very fun format, it's about an hour-long meeting. We do them a couple times a month, and it's casual. We ask everyone to introduce themselves. I mean, we try to make it like if we were having coffee together, you know, meeting up, you know, in the church basement or the community room somewhere and just introducing ourselves to each other. And we'd love to hear people's story and how they heard about Sew Powerful, where they're from and why they're interested. And it's always fun. We always learn exciting things and meet people from interesting places. And we really appreciate the opportunity as well just to build the relationships. And that's a central part of what we're trying to accomplish. You know, it's really make a difference through relationship and connecting with everyone who's interested in you know, making purses together in community and getting to know some new friends. And the world can be sort of a weird and lonely place, especially with COVID right now and these virtual meetings aren't as good as sitting down across the table from somebody but they're close and it does allow us to meet new friends and and to connect with people. So, we hope that it you know, does something in that regard for the participants as well as really give them a sense of camaraderie and the fact that there are like-minded In like-hearted people around the world that they can meet and connect with, and hopefully it's a first step in the relationship in that regard.
Well, and you know, what I like is that people who are brand new, who have never made a purse attend; people who have made one or two purses attend and say, Hey, I have a question about, you know, this step in the purse making process. Other people come in and ask questions about the ministry. And then we have people who are very experienced Sew Powerful volunteers, who joined just for the camaraderie. They want to welcome people who are new. And what was so fun in the last one was, as people were giving their backgrounds, there was somebody from, I'm probably going to get the locations wrong, somebody from Kansas and somebody from, I don't know, I want to say maybe Ohio. And as they were giving their backgrounds, it turned out their backgrounds were very similar. And you talked about being lonely. But being better meeting a person, these two people would never have met had, we had meetings in person. So now we've made a connection. And, you know, I have made so many friends from around the world: India, Brazil, the UK, Scotland, the Netherlands, not to mention lots of people in the United States, people I never would have met before, most of whom don't live anywhere near driving distance from my home. So, it's a great way to kick off, your involvement with Sew Powerful. And we have a quick and easy little tool for you to register for whichever session is convenient for you. And they're all listed right there on the website, with a link to the registration, just a quick little form, so that we know you're coming.
No, you're so right. That's such a good point, you know, because, you know, if you just think about meeting new people, it can be intimidating. But one thing that always helps is if you have a basis for the relationship, and obviously this program and you know, the passion for sewing, and then the desire to make a difference around the world that gives us a basis for you know, collaborating together. And we it's kind of a known issue, it is kind of a known topic where you can say, Okay, I understand this, I'm comfortable enough meeting people, strangers to me and hoping for the best here. And and it has been just a beautiful thing to see where people can just connect and the Facebook group, if you're not a part of that, we would welcome you into that as well. It's a private Facebook group, I think there's close to 4000 people in there now. And you see the same names over time, and you really do get to know people. And I guess to me, the nice part of that group is just it's all puppies and rainbows and happiness in that group as compared to the wasteland that is most Facebook posts and places. We've really had of just a fantastic cohort of, you know, people who have said here the rules and there's no politics, no divisiveness, no criticism, no unkindness, you know, nothing snarky, and they're going down at all. It's just, you know, wonderful people being encouraging and supportive. So that's sort of the next step after the Meet and Greet in my mind is to, you know, be a part of that group. And, and so yeah, I would just encourage people to take a little bit of a risk and sign up for one of these meetings. And see if you don't meet some nice people, and and if nothing else, get your questions answered about Sew Powerful, and you know, how the program works, and or how to do the pattern, you know, construction steps, or whatever people ask questions about the person making as well in these meetings. And that's all good. It's fun stuff.
Yeah. And I would say it's probably the lowest risk thing you're ever going to do. You're going to be welcomed with open arms. And you know, I think about a mother-daughter pair that joined one of our meetings, and they had some questions about, you know, the purses and the ministry and all of that. And lo and behold, three weeks later, over 100 purses arrived from them, because they had their questions answered, and they felt really good about
it was a good way for them to spend their time, their talents, their resources.
That's a good point, the questions that come people's mind about the program really are interesting. And, you know, we all make a lot of assumptions. I mean, whenever we hear about something like this, and, and it's just good to be able to say, what was that correct? Or, you know, is this how this works? And we're happy to answer all of the questions about the program on the ground, how it actually plays out in the lives of the girls in the schools we work with. And, you know, the seamstresses on the team there in Zambia. And so, you do have questions about the ministry of Sew Powerful, this is a wonderful format to to ask them and there's no bad questions. You know, it's just there's nothing, nothing that you could ask that we'd be upset by. We're happy to field all questions. And that reminds me a little bit like being in the booth at the quilt shows when people just come up and you say, you know, here's a program, and they'll just they'll just ask you whatever's top of mind. The questions in the Meet and Greet are a little more composed sometimes and a little more thoughtful, but it's still fun to answer and, and help people learn more about the reality of the challenges on on the ground in places like Ngombe compound in Zambia. Yeah.
Well, and I will say Jason and Cinnamon are totally transparent. I mean, honestly, you could ask any question. But if you think maybe you're gonna feel maybe uncomfortable asking the question online, when you sign up, there's a place where you could put your question in there. So that A, you won't forget. Or B, maybe you feel like maybe you wouldn't be comfortable asking, but you probably would be once you get in the meeting and see how casual and friendly it is. But nonetheless, there is a place there on the forum. And we've had some good discussions around topics that people had proposed in advance that we cover. So it's all good. It's all fun.
Yeah. Well, hopefully, this sparks people's curiosity enough for them to jump on that Welcome page, sign up for the next Meet and Greet and jump into it with us. Yeah.
Well, thank you for your time. And if you're listening, we really encourage you to join us at one of the upcoming Meet and Greet meetings. The schedule is out there on the Welcome page. So, it's Serve With Us, and then Welcome and scroll down to the bottom of the page. And we have the schedule, about six months out. And it's a rolling schedule every month we update it. So, you can't come this month, maybe you can come in the next month or two. So, we look forward to meeting you, it would be so fun to say hi. And when we ask you how you heard about Sew Powerful, and you can say you heard about it on the Sew Powerful Podcast.
Oh, one last commentary. The meetings are done on Zoom. And if you're not comfortable or familiar with Zoom, it does use your computer's microphone and camera. And so ideally, you'd have both rigged up and have used both. You can join by phone or iPad as well. And that way we can, you know, see each other and you know, you can talk and ask questions in the group and all that. So that sort of a technical note, but it is helpful for people to understand that. So, it's not just listening to like a phone call, for example. It's a little more high tech, right.
And when you sign up, you get an automated reply, and it has the Zoom link. And it also has a little link to actually a YouTube video that shows you how to use Zoom if you've never done it before. So, you should feel comfortable and prepared. And if you're not used to Zoom, we know that that everybody has to jump on at some point and we're happy to help you get going.
Okay, well thank you so much. And we will see you on Zoom and please give us likes or thumbs up and subscribe to the Sew Powerful Podcast. Share it with your friends; you can link it in emails and send the information on to others in that way too. So, we look forward to having you be among our podcast fans. We'll talk to you later. Bye.
If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www.sewpowerful.org That's SEW WPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.
ABOUT THE HOST
Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Examiner.com. Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.