FAF Hats for Sale at Art Market
FAIL FORWARD WITH FABRICS
Fabrics is our middle name. Well, sort of. We are Fabulous African Fabrics, founded in 1999 to make and sell items made from imported African textiles, raising funds for widows and orphans in Kenya. We were crafters and artists enthusiastic about African textiles and how we could make beautiful items out of them. Proceeds went to a Kenyan Orphanage, The Good Samaritan Children’s Home. By 2010 the passion for fabrics was ripping our foundation apart.
Selling at art markets, bazaars, and craft fairs was no longer viable. After the Twin Towers came down, exotic textiles became suspect. Crowds looked, but no one bought. Enter the recession when fancy linens, jewelry and clothing were luxuries for the cash-strapped middle class. Textile prices rose. How many times did we hear “Your work is beautiful,” as people hurried past our booth, afraid to stop where they might feel the temptation to buy?
Our work was so closely tied to the street fairs--our interest in surface design, and the crowds of people whom we met and talked to about our mission--it was hard to give up. Earnings fell and fell until 2013 when our sales broke even with our costs. I learned from reading Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits (Bray) that no fundraiser should cost more than 7% of the profits. That was it. This summer we called it quits. FAF still sells hats and silk scarves when contacted, and participates in a large craft fair in Spokane each year; but our long days at the craft fair and sewing machine are done. No matter how much you love an idea, it pays to be flexible.
In 2010 we joined GlobalGiving, filling the hole in our budget. We enjoy exchanges with other non-profits and NGO’s on line, and being a part of a worldwide group through membership in GlobalGiving UK. The boys and girls of the Good Samaritan Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya remain in good hands.
Hats for Sale, Hats for Sale!