Episode 61

Sewing For Living in Bali | LAYC61

A tapestry of connections

It all began with a single ball of yarn that got tied to the passion of a small but tight knit group of Rotarians, both locals and expatriates, living in Bali.

An idea to help women earn money while they fulfilled all their cultural and traditional duties, was stitched together and has become a sustainable economic blanket with ties stretching now to multiple continents.   

The project is called Sewing For Living and is recognized by Rotary International.

Before the pandemic began, the President of Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset had an idea to teach local women to use sewing machines, allowing them to work from home and supplement their family income.

Balinese women have always had multiple jobs: caring for children and family, doing all the housework, providing help to the community, assisting at temple and cultural events, among others.

It is vital for women to make their own money, not only for their self-esteem, but to enable them to help support their family and community. 

Many women are sole providers for their families, a statistic that dramatically increased during the Covid-19 pandemic when tourism, the number one employer, shut down for several years. Local economies were in serious trouble.

The project, aptly named; Sewing For Living, teaches marketable skills that women can use from their homes.  

Thoughtfully, Rotary Club Ubud Sunset expanded the project to teach the women business skills beyond making artisanal and seasonal products, and worked to open up new international markets for the goods produced by the village women. 

With true Lift As You Climb spirit, the Balinese women now also give a hand up to an environmental issue and support rescue of endangered orangutans from threatened rainforest habitats.

When a Sewing for Living crocheted orangutan is sold, 50% of the money goes directly to the woman who created it.  The other 50% goes to the Long Sam Program, an environmental program working to restore the rainforests in Kalimantan and rescue the orangutans who live there.

SEWING FOR LIVING

VISION

  • To allow Balinese women financial independence

  • To create a skilled, female workforce for businesses in Bali

  • To raise the level of self-esteem of Balinese women

MISSION

  • To teach Balinese women to use a sewing machine so they can work independently from their homes

  • To teach Balinese women to crochet and to knit

  • To create skilled workers who can be hired by businesses to do piece work in their homes

FIND OUT MORE AND PASS THIS ALONG TO FRIENDS

https://www.instagram.com/sewing_for_living/

https://rotarybaliubudsunset.org/

https://www.facebook.com/RajutdanJarit


HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Purchase Sewing For Living products

Purchase Sewing For Living Orangutans

Donate funds to Sewing For Living

https://rotarybaliubudsunset.org/support-rcbus/donate/

Donate wool or yarn to Sewing For Living

Sponsor a supporting project or fund raiser within your Rotary or other service club

Organize family, neighbours, book club, church group, office cohort, etc. to host a fund raiser or wool/yarn collection and ship it to Bali, in care of Rotary Club Ubud Sunset

SPREAD the word by SHARING this podcast.

Donate to Rotary International and designate your donation

Become a Rotarian and Lift As You Climb with a service project


More about Ubud – Bali, Indonesia

https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Ubud


More about the Orangutan project:

https://rotarybaliubudsunset.org/the-long-sam-program-and-yayasan-hutan-masa-depan/


About the Host:

 

Isabel Alexander

Your Next Business Strategist and Transformation Catalyst

 

Dynamic, a self-made entrepreneur who overcame obstacles with an unrelenting positive nature, a farm girl work ethic, and a conscious choice to thrive rather than survive, Isabel Alexander (Banerjee) cultivated an award-winning, $10+ million global chemical business and grew it from dining room table to international boardrooms.

Isabel’s strengths include the ability to initiate and nurture strategic relationships, a love of lifelong learning and talents for helping others maximize their potential. An inspiring speaker within both industry and community, she is a driving force behind those with the courage to follow her example of thriving against the odds.

With 50+ years of business experience across diverse industries, Isabel is respected as an advisor, a coach, a mentor, and a role model. She believes in sharing collective wisdom and empowering others to economic independence.

 

Founder:

Lift As You Climb Movement (www.facebook.com/groups/liftasyouclimbmovement)

and

Chief Encore Officer, The Encore Catalyst (www.theencorecatalyst.com) – an accelerator for feminine wisdom, influence, and impact.

also

Author & Speaker ‘Who Am I Now? – Feminine Wisdom Unmasked Uncensored’ (www.IsabelBanerjee.com)

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/isabelalexanderbanerjee/

 

Thank You for Listening!

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If you have questions about this episode, please send me an email at Hello@TheEncoreCatalyst.com

 

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Transcript
Isabel:

Ladies and gentlemen and travelers of the universe of Lift

Isabel:

As You Climb, I am very delighted to introduce my guest Marion Hook.

Isabel:

You couldn't have two people, almost opposed geographically

Isabel:

and chronologically than we are.

Isabel:

It's 6:00 AM where I am, and 7:00 PM where she is...

Isabel:

Here in Canada, and Marion is in Bali, Indonesia.

Isabel:

This is a true honor for me to be interviewing her for

Isabel:

the Lift As You Climb podcast.

Isabel:

As we explore how you can live your legacy, and have an impact, make a

Isabel:

positive difference for others in your life, and people you don't even know...

Isabel:

Even when you don't have lots of zeros in your bank account, or even the experience

Isabel:

of having created something before.

Isabel:

Just a little bit about Marion...

Isabel:

and there's a lot in her life.

Isabel:

We'll take some of the examples, but in our show notes, I'm gonna

Isabel:

include more details about her background and her biography.

Isabel:

She has lived in a lot of different states in the United States, but also in

Isabel:

fabulous places like Jakarta, Indonesia, and right now she is in Ubud, Bali,

Isabel:

Indonesia, where she intends to stay.

Isabel:

Based on what I know so far about Marion, never say never.

Isabel:

Her educational background includes a degree in English Literature,

Isabel:

Drama, Journalism, and Education.

Isabel:

she laughingly says that she's studied applied linguistics

Isabel:

at graduate school level...

Isabel:

Longer than anyone needs to.

Isabel:

She's been employed as a high school English teacher, a professor of

Isabel:

communication skills at community college, and has been the director

Isabel:

of several not-for-profits.

Isabel:

So now we have a bit of a hint of how she gained some of her experience.

Isabel:

She'd been a consultant for boards and always very much, lifting and

Isabel:

climbing in the not per profit sector.

Isabel:

She was the co-owner with her late husband Jim, of the Adobe Rose Bed

Isabel:

and Breakfast in Tucson, Arizona.

Isabel:

I've heard marvelous things, but never had the pleasure to stay there yet.

Isabel:

She's a writer, and a volunteer, obviously, and she was on the advisory

Isabel:

board of the Enterprising Women Magazine.

Isabel:

She served on both the small minority and women owned business

Isabel:

commissions for the city of Tucson.

Isabel:

She was on the advisory board of the School of International Business

Isabel:

at Duquesne University and the Pima County Small Business Commission.

Isabel:

Now, I also know, that Marion has been active for a long time in Rotary

Isabel:

International because that's how she and I came to know each other.

Isabel:

Although I have never met her in person, I've met her on many a Zoom

Isabel:

screen in the last couple of years...

Isabel:

And because of a fellow colleague in Rotary, Gina Murphy- darling of Mrs.

Isabel:

Green's world...

Isabel:

I became involved in a project that Marion was spearheading in her

Isabel:

community with her rotary group in Ubud.

Isabel:

Today, I am so pleased to be able to start off this season with Marion...

Isabel:

Talking about how you can take a passion, even something that's just

Isabel:

kind of a little smoldering idea...

Isabel:

Get it started, and add a little oxygen...

Isabel:

And make that flame grow brighter.

Isabel:

You might do that on your own, or you might do it with the help of others,

Isabel:

or in a group that you are involved.

Isabel:

What I really want to convey to you is that...

Isabel:

You should start, and you don't have to wait until you think that

Isabel:

you have all of the pieces aligned.

Isabel:

You don't have to have a big bank account.

Isabel:

You don't have to have prior experience.

Isabel:

You don't have need to know yet how to write grants, et cetera...

Isabel:

Just get started.

Isabel:

Leverage everything that you already have within your own personal life

Isabel:

experience, and network, and get going.

Isabel:

Marion, you started something that has become a global impact now.

Isabel:

You started something very local in your community.

Isabel:

Would you please give us the origin story of Sewing for Living?

Marion:

I certainly will.

Marion:

First of all, this was not my idea.

Marion:

Oh, it was.

Marion:

Our rotary president's idea, , Kartika Dewi.

Marion:

Our rotary club is both local Indonesians and local expats or expatriates.

Marion:

Tika called me up one day and said...

Marion:

I'm gonna help Indonesian women, and told me exactly...

Marion:

This was in October of 2019...

Marion:

She said, I need to write a district grant for Rotary, and I don't know how to do it.

Marion:

And I don't think my English is good enough.

Marion:

I thought it was good enough, but she didn't.

Marion:

So we sat down, we talked and I wrote the grant.

Marion:

And we got enough money for a couple of sewing machines.

Marion:

We were going to teach women how to use sewing machines because Indonesian

Marion:

women make your life look easy.

Marion:

No matter how many jobs you do, they have more.

Marion:

They're in charge of the children, they're in charge of the elderly, they're in

Marion:

charge of their family, they're in charge of the community that they live in.

Marion:

They are in charge of their temples and there are at least 10 temple

Marion:

ceremonies a month, and they make the offerings that go into those ceremonies.

Marion:

I'll have to send you a picture of one to include, because

Marion:

they're beautiful and intricate...

Marion:

Which prohibits them from working outside the home if they have children...

Marion:

Because there just isn't time.

Marion:

But Tika said, if they learn how to use a sewing machine, and we

Marion:

make sewing machines available...

Marion:

Then they can work from their homes and they can do piece work for

Marion:

factories that assemble clothing.

Marion:

And we thought...

Marion:

Yeah...

Marion:

That's a good idea...

Marion:

So we got a couple of sewing machines, thanks to a Rotary Club in Australia,

Marion:

and we started teaching them to sell.

Marion:

I was not involved actively at that time, just the grant writer.

Marion:

Then COVID came along, and Indonesia shut its doors for two years.

Marion:

So many of the factories that would've used our skilled women shut down,

Marion:

and they couldn't sell anything.

Marion:

So...

Marion:

Tika came to me and she said...

Marion:

Marion...

Marion:

Do you know how to crochet?

Marion:

I said...

Marion:

Yes I do.

Marion:

And she said...

Marion:

Well...

Marion:

Teach the women how to crochet.

Marion:

So I started teaching the women how to crochet and still we had a problem,

Marion:

there was no place to sell this.

Marion:

Well, I have a connection in Rocky Point or Puerto Penasco, Mexico, who works

Marion:

with impoverished children there...

Marion:

And I had worked with her, so I said, Deb, I promise the kids I'd send

Marion:

them Christmas presents every year.

Marion:

How about if I send them winter hats?

Marion:

So I bought the hats from the women so they didn't get discouraged because

Marion:

there was no place to, uh, to sell them and, uh, kept their hope up,

Marion:

uh, and, uh, fed their families.

Marion:

Then slowly things began to open, uh, in April of 2021.

Marion:

So they'd gone two years with no real strong markets.

Marion:

Our strongest market was, uh, the Christmas market in Cologne,

Marion:

Germany, believe it or not, uh, through another rotary.

Marion:

Other connections.

Marion:

So I hope you're beginning to see a pattern here.

Marion:

Tika called me...

Marion:

I called Deb down in Mexico, somebody else called a guy in, uh, Germany.

Marion:

And uh, we've had a business going and nothing warms your heart more than

Marion:

buying a hat for about $2 us and...

Marion:

Having the woman say something to your friend Tika in, uh,

Marion:

Balinese, which I don't understand.

Marion:

And when I asked Tika what she said....

Marion:

she said, Good!...

Marion:

I'll be able to feed my kids tonight.

Marion:

It, uh,

Marion:

I...

Isabel:

I'm sorry, Marion, would you just repeat what you said please?

Marion:

I bought a hat from a woman who was learning to crochet...

Marion:

Um, To send to Mexico, and when I paid her about $2 US...

Marion:

Uh, She looked at my friend Tika and said something in Balinese,

Marion:

which I don't understand.

Marion:

Uh, it's different from Bahasa...

Marion:

Indonesia.

Marion:

So I asked Tika later, What did she say?

Marion:

And Tika looked at me and said, she said, Good, I'll be

Marion:

able to feed my kids tonight.

Isabel:

Thank you.

Isabel:

I felt it was very important that everybody heard how that one item had

Isabel:

such a major impact in a family's life.

Isabel:

And that's why I'm saying that a Lift As You Climb doesn't require

Isabel:

you to have a big infrastructure.

Isabel:

To have an impact.

Isabel:

It's the beginning of that...

Isabel:

each individual action.

Isabel:

So thank you.

Marion:

I'm Shameless.

Marion:

I, I tap all my connections.

Marion:

The first thing I did, um, was call my daughter who lives in Tasmania, Australia

Marion:

and say, uh, can you get to a store called Spotlight and buy me some yarn?

Marion:

I'll pay you.

Marion:

She goes, You don't have to pay me back.

Marion:

So she went to Spotlight and started sending yarn because we had no money, we

Marion:

had to find alternative ways to supply the women with, uh, the tools to work.

Marion:

Right.

Marion:

So, um, my other daughter sent.

Marion:

Uh, yarn, uh, some guys I know in, uh, Milwaukee, Wisconsin sent some

Marion:

yarn and, uh, we began getting the tools for the women to work with.

Marion:

Now what I laugh about is...

Marion:

For my 75th birthday, I went out on Facebook and said...

Marion:

Look, I'm gonna be three quarters of a century old.

Marion:

Please help me celebrate!

Marion:

Send me a ball of yarn.

Marion:

Thinking...

Marion:

Oh, I hope I get 75...

Marion:

I got 683 balls of yarn for my birthday!

Marion:

Woohoo!

Marion:

Again, I have to pay the import tax on it, but that's minimal.

Marion:

For those of you who are knitters and crocheters, you

Marion:

know how expensive yarn can be...

Marion:

So again, using connections, and I encourage people who do you know

Marion:

who might be interested in this.

Marion:

The first person I asked was someone I met at the National

Marion:

Association of Women Business Owners.

Marion:

Mm-hmm.

Marion:

. I hadn't seen her in years, but I said, Hi, Lisa.

Marion:

I just read on Facebook that, uh, you're a Rotarian.

Marion:

So am I.

Marion:

Let me tell you about our new project.

Marion:

And, uh, her first comment was, Is it sustainable?

Marion:

And I said, Yes.

Marion:

It was in my mind, it was on paper.

Marion:

Why not?

Marion:

Yes.

Marion:

Well, Work club donated $350, which allowed us to buy, uh, another sewing

Marion:

machine and some crochet hooks.

Marion:

And now Lisa is a member of our club.

Marion:

Thanks to te.

Isabel:

So then you don't have to live where you live

Isabel:

to be a member of your club?

Marion:

Thanks to Zoom and other things?

Marion:

No, uh, because of Covid, right now we have five members.

Marion:

Uh, two of them are in the United States, Three of them are in Australia because

Marion:

they had to leave when Covid came.

Marion:

I chose not to leave.

Marion:

I chose to.

Marion:

When I say they had to leave, they had to leave Indonesia.

Marion:

They had the opportunity to leave

Isabel:

Indonesia.

Isabel:

Well, I had not anticipated this, but perhaps we could talk after the

Isabel:

interview about representation on the membership from Canada, um, because,

Marion:

uh, we would certainly welcome you with open arms.

Isabel:

Well, just as an explanation to our audience, I was a member for.

Isabel:

Like, it's just about two years of the Rotary, uh, Sunrise

Isabel:

Club in Tucson, Arizona.

Isabel:

Hence my connection with Marion.

Isabel:

But after moving one year ago back to Canada, I have

Isabel:

not found my Rotary home yet.

Isabel:

Maybe it isn't around the corner, maybe it's across a

Isabel:

pond, or two or three ponds...

Isabel:

I guess.

Marion:

Yeah.

Marion:

Uh, we can start out with Lake Ontario.

Marion:

Uh, no.

Marion:

We, we, uh, all of our meetings connect to Zoom so people can keep in touch and

Marion:

we also connect everyone through what's.

Marion:

If you're listening to this from the States, you guys really don't use

Marion:

WhatsApp as much as the rest of the world.

Isabel:

Um, no.

Isabel:

The US is, doesn't, isn't as aware of WhatsApp as, um, as I am, certainly

Isabel:

because I have family around the world and also in my, um, business owner role.

Isabel:

I had business clients and staff in China, So I'm, I'm more familiar with.

Isabel:

Opportunities to communicate in different ways for little

Isabel:

or no cost and stay in touch.

Isabel:

So, yay, and I guess, you know, as one of the positive strategic, uh, side effects

Isabel:

of Covid, the pandemic, we've all learned a lot more about how to stay in touch.

Isabel:

How to, you know, really, uh, network and make a difference and be part of,

Isabel:

and get to know each other better, uh, via digital or whatever they call

Isabel:

the technology platforms today, right?

Marion:

Right.

Marion:

I have a family.

Marion:

Um, my family's on three continents.

Marion:

Yes,

Isabel:

you have, you have family in Australia, United States.

Isabel:

I have definitely, Yep.

Isabel:

And, and you in Indonesia.

Isabel:

That's fantastic.

Isabel:

Um, just, just because, you know, I don't know that a lot of people are

Isabel:

familiar with where Indonesia is.

Isabel:

Could you, could you just give me a little perspective for the audience?

Marion:

It's, it sits on the equator and it's between, uh,

Marion:

India and it's an arch pego that goes, So I'd have to look at a map.

Marion:

I'm from a child of the 1960s.

Marion:

Geography wasn't taught all that well.

Marion:

Um, we're near Singapore.

Marion:

We're near born.

Marion:

Well, Borneo is part of Indonesia, but it shares the island with

Marion:

Malaysia and, uh, Brunai.

Marion:

I'm trying to think what else is close.

Marion:

Yeah, I'm

Isabel:

envisioning it.

Isabel:

I'm, correct me if I'm wrong here cuz geography was not my strong suit ever.

Isabel:

Although I have a great love of traveling the world.

Isabel:

Uh, you're kind of in between India and Australia, right?

Isabel:

Yeah.

Marion:

Yeah, yeah.

Marion:

That's a good way to put

Isabel:

it.

Isabel:

If you put a diagonal between, between those.

Isabel:

Right.

Marion:

Okay.

Marion:

So, and it's, it's 18,000 islands, 9,000 are inhabit.

Isabel:

That is incredible.

Isabel:

Well, if I'm going to visit them all, I better get started soon

Isabel:

because I'm 68, but you know, that gives me, you know, another 30 or 40

Isabel:

years to work on it, so it's good.

Isabel:

Okay.

Isabel:

So I can see now how you started with, um, TCA's idea, the president of your

Isabel:

rotary club at the time and Right.

Isabel:

That was pre the pandemic.

Isabel:

But it had, it was started in, um, empowering women, uh, to stay

Isabel:

within their, their cultural, um, values and, and you know, what's

Isabel:

traditional for them, but also to be financially autonomous by working from.

Isabel:

So got got that, and it started simply with a couple of sewing machines.

Isabel:

And then unfortunately the pandemic hit and it became a much more

Isabel:

pressing need to provide these families with income to buy food.

Marion:

Is that about two 85% of Bali's economy is reliant on tourism?

Marion:

So 85% of the people who work on Bali had no jobs for two years.

Isabel:

That's just lightening, and there is,

Marion:

there is a very, very, very slim safety net and it really

Marion:

didn't save too many people.

Marion:

So there were a lot of people working together to help each.

Marion:

But there was literally, there were no jobs, there were no

Marion:

tourists, there were no hotels open.

Marion:

There were few restaurants open, and people were starving.

Isabel:

So give me, give me some idea, some context around the cost

Isabel:

of living in how much the purchase of one of these items, uh, has

Isabel:

an impact on a family life there.

Marion:

Well, it depends on the family, like anywhere else.

Marion:

Certainly Indonesia has some very, very wealthy.

Marion:

Um, their investments have paid off.

Marion:

They're invested in other countries.

Marion:

Uh, the middle class, I first came to Indonesia in 1982 and

Marion:

there was almost no middle class.

Marion:

There's a solid middle class now, but if you're solid middle class

Marion:

involved, someone who worked as a manager at a four or five star hotel

Marion:

and that hotel closed things crash.

Marion:

Right.

Marion:

Um, you can buy food, you can buy a meal that consists mainly

Marion:

of rice for about a dollar.

Marion:

It, uh, but that's the low end of the income scale.

Marion:

It, uh, if I wanted to go out and buy a Thanksgiving

Marion:

Turkey, I probably could do it.

Marion:

It would cost me well over a hundred.

Marion:

So it depends on what you're eating and where you're living.

Marion:

Uh, it's like anyone else except low here is lower.

Marion:

And I'm willing to bet that the high is higher than in a lot of places.

Marion:

And the middle class is small.

Marion:

Yeah.

Marion:

But they are.

Isabel:

But when you don't, when you don't have a job, when there's no

Isabel:

income, it doesn't matter whether.

Isabel:

Uh, whether there's a, you know, scale for wages or social

Isabel:

services or anything, right.

Isabel:

It's just ingenuity now has to become the,

Marion:

the first people were selling their motorbikes.

Marion:

They were selling their cars, they were selling their land.

Marion:

Yeah.

Marion:

Uh, it, it, it was awful.

Marion:

. Isabel: So take me, take us a little

Marion:

what I hear is that, so we've got local people involved through the club and other

Marion:

connections, um, and you so brilliantly, uh, have woven your connections from

Marion:

your past life, your travel, your family, your friends and others into.

Marion:

Um, well, isn't that interesting?

Marion:

Sewing for a living and what you're actually doing, it's the

Marion:

foundation, is you're weaving a tapestry of connections, right?

Marion:

Connections are everything, Isabelle.

Isabel:

Yeah.

Isabel:

Connections are everything.

Isabel:

And you know, Maya Angelou said people may forget what you said and people

Isabel:

may forget what you do, but they will.

Isabel:

Never forget how you made them feel.

Isabel:

And I guess those connections of yours must have felt pretty good.

Isabel:

Well, I hope so.

Isabel:

Yeah.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

And then to be able to give them an opportunity to add their connections

Isabel:

to this tapestry is, is also fabulous.

Isabel:

That's the way the world works.

Isabel:

It it does truly.

Isabel:

And I, I, I find that is more.

Isabel:

So more obvious in the community of women?

Isabel:

Uh, not, not exclusively, but certainly I think as women, we've become, I grew

Isabel:

up in a farming community and, and so I'm, you know, I, I associate memories

Isabel:

of quilting bees where the women gathered together, uh, Quilts or, uh, to gather

Isabel:

together to make the meals when a barn was going up or, or there was, you

Isabel:

know, a crop had to be taken off because the family member was unable to do so.

Isabel:

Good morning.

Isabel:

My, my raspy morning voice.

Isabel:

Uh, and so this opportunity for women to get together is when they start to

Isabel:

think of other things they can do to help communities in each other, and it's, it's

Isabel:

a beautiful thing, what you're creating.

Isabel:

Well,

Marion:

We, we hope so, and we hope it keeps being beautiful

Marion:

because it's blossoming.

Marion:

It's been so exciting for me to start off with a crochet hook and a ball of yarn.

Marion:

I had cook cooking, kicking around my, uh, living room and, uh, I was just

Marion:

supposed to teach the ladies to crochet and now I'm teaching them how to be

Marion:

business women, and that's exciting.

Isabel:

I would like to hear more about that because as a, as a businesswoman

Isabel:

myself, and also the, your earlier comment about is this sustainable and

Isabel:

I was a member also of, uh, of Noble, the National Association of Women

Isabel:

Business Owners when I lived in Arizona.

Isabel:

Uh, it's.

Isabel:

Very interesting to see that evolution that's happened with sewing for a living.

Isabel:

And it isn't now just about creating a product, but it's also having

Isabel:

confidence and knowledge about the skills to run a business, right.

Isabel:

Is that correct?

Marion:

Well, this is, this is very interesting because, uh, the

Marion:

ladies were just crocheting their hearts out and I was their only.

Marion:

Well, I could not sustain that.

Marion:

That's when we began looking to other clubs.

Marion:

Uh, in fact, the club in Tucson bought some products and sold them at

Marion:

their, uh, their district conference.

Marion:

Um, but when we found out that we could actually sell the products to Germany,

Marion:

to Cologne and make money that way, we began to look for other markets.

Marion:

And it was hard because everything was closed right?

Marion:

Then one of our other projects in our rotary club, we have an

Marion:

environmental project in Montan.

Marion:

Uh, Montan is the Indonesian part of Borneo, uh, where we are working to

Marion:

preserve what's left of the rainforest.

Marion:

One of the lungs of the world, so to speak, and to preserve what's

Marion:

left of the orangutang population.

Marion:

So we began crocheting, orangutans.

Marion:

Half of the money that you get for an that we get for an orangutang

Marion:

goes to the woman who made it.

Marion:

And the other half goes to the, uh, Long Sam project, which is,

Marion:

uh, in reference to land that surrounds the Kalie River in Montan.

Marion:

So, okay, we had a new market and we had a purpose, not just sewing for living,

Marion:

but we had an environmental purpose and people began buying orangutans.

Marion:

They're really cute.

Marion:

I sent you a picture.

Marion:

And, uh, we thought, All right, and we began publicizing.

Marion:

If you look at our, PowerPoint presentation for Sewing For A Living,

Marion:

you'll see one of our, one of our threats is that, uh, we're limited in market.

Marion:

Well, now that things are opening up, my ladies can't keep up.

Marion:

It's a great problem.

Marion:

They can't keep up.

Marion:

It's a great problem to.

Marion:

, but we have a population who knows nothing about running a business.

Marion:

So we've started on ground zero and we're, we're working to get

Marion:

people to understand, uh, quality control, uh, to understand deadlines.

Marion:

I mean the very, very basics of business.

Marion:

Plus, I know Western business, Western business and eastern

Marion:

business are two very different.

Marion:

It.

Marion:

Uh, I can tell you about Western marketing.

Marion:

I had a woman stop by one of the shops and say, Oh, you need

Marion:

to display this differently.

Marion:

And I'm thinking, Really?

Marion:

I said, But who is the market?

Marion:

Are you displaying for a local market or are you displaying for a tourist market?

Marion:

Because there are two different things.

Marion:

Isabel, you'll appreciate that.

Marion:

Think of the difference of way things are displayed in Tucson and the

Marion:

way things are displayed in Portco.

Isabel:

Yes.

Isabel:

Yes.

Isabel:

Very good analogy.

Isabel:

. Yeah.

Isabel:

We would have

Marion:

guests come back from, uh, Porto Pinco and we'd have show

Marion:

and tell, show me what you bought.

Marion:

And some people say, I didn't buy anything because I, I, I, it was overwhelming.

Marion:

There were just too many things.

Marion:

So we have to teach sort of a hybrid of marketing.

Marion:

Mm-hmm.

Marion:

, and then, um, how to set a price.

Marion:

We're still working on that.

Marion:

because if you have no money, 10 cents is a lot of money.

Marion:

Right?

Marion:

And, um, they don't have to pay for the yarn.

Marion:

So it's very confusing if you've never done it before.

Marion:

So we're working on all kinds of very basic entrepreneurial skills.

Marion:

But thanks to Nabo and Enterprising Women Magazine, I.

Marion:

Had a lot of people help me along.

Isabel:

There's that connections theme again.

Isabel:

Yep.

Isabel:

Yeah.

Isabel:

How fabulous.

Isabel:

So can you, uh, think of a particular individual, uh, that one of the local

Isabel:

women that started off in the program?

Isabel:

Cuz I thought it was interesting when you say, If you don't have

Isabel:

money, 10 cents can sound like a very desirable thing to go after.

Isabel:

And if there's no, if you don't think that you have any, uh, cost in the

Isabel:

goods and you perhaps don't value your own skills yet, uh, as much as they are

Isabel:

worth, then how did you begin to teach?

Isabel:

Market value for what they were

Marion:

creating?

Marion:

Well, it's been interesting.

Marion:

Um, a lot of the women had part-time jobs, uh, in tourist shops.

Marion:

And I'm thinking of one woman in particular who is

Marion:

an excellent prosha of me.

Marion:

I had, her name is Santi, uh, Santi crocheted, and,

Marion:

uh, would sell things to her.

Marion:

Uh, but we sort of let the women at this point choose what they're comfortable

Marion:

with because there's no sense in saying, Well, that's worth 75 US dollars, which

Marion:

it may be in the US market, but if you're selling it to your neighbor who

Marion:

has nothing, uh, Not going to work.

Marion:

So they began to see the value of what they made by why,

Marion:

what people would pay for it.

Marion:

And now that the tourists are coming back, they're understanding they can

Marion:

charge the tourist market more and they can charge the German market even more.

Marion:

Uh, the, Here's a cross cultural story.

Marion:

The Germans and Cologne celebrate.

Marion:

And one of the things they do for Carnival is wear something called a naron cap,

Marion:

which is a dense cap in a certain shape.

Marion:

So they asked us if we would make them, and we said, Yeah, but we don't know

Marion:

what they are, what they look like.

Marion:

So we found that out.

Marion:

So I have Lineese.

Marion:

Making German dance caps for carnival in Cologne out of

Marion:

fabric that came from Florida.

Isabel:

Truly a global

Marion:

initiative.

Marion:

And then the lady said, Oh, these are kind of plain, Do you

Marion:

mind if we put beads on them?

Marion:

And they hand beated them, so they are selling them.

Marion:

Um, At about 15 euro a piece, which is a lot of money.

Marion:

That's remarkable.

Marion:

And they sold, they sold 50 of them, five zero.

Marion:

So slowly they're learning and they're learning that the local

Marion:

market won't take the price, but the international market will.

Marion:

Mm-hmm.

Marion:

. So now we're looking for international places.

Marion:

Um, By happenstance, our Rotary Club met for its strategic annual meeting,

Marion:

had a place that, uh, sells items to home goods, TJ Max and, uh, peer

Marion:

one and places that I used to shop.

Marion:

So when we get.

Marion:

Over supplying the Christmas market in Cologne and get to catch our breath.

Marion:

We'll approach them and say, Are you interested in boutique

Marion:

bags and boutique place mats?

Marion:

Because I happen to know what those stores will buy.

Marion:

So, uh, of course we're looking for different things.

Isabel:

I know that, that we've taken this a bit more of a turn

Isabel:

towards the business part of.

Isabel:

Of this impact, but also as a business woman at you, and I know we understand

Isabel:

that if you don't treat a not-for-profit like a business, it can't do good.

Isabel:

You know, even, even United Nations recognizes that with the sustainability,

Isabel:

sustainability goals, you have to do well in order to do good.

Isabel:

So this is, I always.

Marion:

I always tell people that a not-for-profit business is a business.

Marion:

Yes.

Marion:

Major difference is taxes, taxation, and the fact that you can't take

Marion:

what profit except not for profits.

Marion:

Call that profit surplus.

Marion:

You can't take the surplus and do anything but plow it right

Marion:

back into the not-for-profit business, and that's the only.

Isabel:

I'm glad that you brought that back up.

Isabel:

So it's assured reinvesting in the enterprise what, whatever that

Isabel:

activity is, so you can do more.

Isabel:

So it, it's wonderful.

Isabel:

It's like, it just perpetuates if you have good management and,

Isabel:

and, uh, passion to keep it going.

Isabel:

Good.

Isabel:

So tell me now, what are your, what are your next steps?

Isabel:

Uh, what do you think?

Marion:

Uh, the next steps for the Sewing For Living is to

Marion:

really clarify what we're selling.

Marion:

I know we're selling crocheted and sewed things, but who is buying what, Uh, we're

Marion:

finding that our new local customer wants.

Marion:

Little stuffed animals, little stuffed bees.

Marion:

We have the orangutans I mentioned.

Marion:

Mm-hmm.

Marion:

. And we're beginning to make dos that are dressed in traditional

Marion:

Indonesian temple costume.

Marion:

Uh, and those are selling very well.

Marion:

Um, the Norin cabin looks like it's going to be a hit.

Marion:

Uh, we'll see if we get a repeat order next year.

Marion:

Um, So we look at what's selling on the market, um, and we look at what is being

Marion:

carried in the markets here, uh, which does not necessarily come from Indonesia.

Marion:

Uh, and if the Western market is buying, what is it?

Marion:

Buy.

Marion:

Uh, and it's going to be a refining process that every business goes through

Marion:

it, um, and a continuing education of how do you run a business and make a profit,

Isabel:

right?

Isabel:

I can't help but think, Marion, as you're talking, that everything that

Isabel:

you're discussing and that you've.

Isabel:

Done and learned and improved along the way, uh, for our audience.

Isabel:

You don't have to be somewhere else in the world for that to be relevant.

Isabel:

You can do that in your own community, right?

Isabel:

Yes.

Isabel:

You could do it at home.

Isabel:

So this is not, um, not a conversation or a model for something.

Isabel:

International, or, you know, life changing.

Isabel:

This is a model for how you can have an impact, make a difference

Isabel:

with an idea, and going forward.

Isabel:

So I wanna thank you for that and I, I certainly believe that.

Isabel:

Well, I would like to come back and revisit this conversation and see what

Isabel:

else you've learned along the way.

Isabel:

And thank you in advance, , uh, if you'll agree to do that because your evolution

Isabel:

with this project, your experience in learning could help so many others.

Isabel:

And, and after all that is lifting as you Climb.

Isabel:

Right?

Isabel:

Right.

Isabel:

But I didn't ask you specifically.

Isabel:

When I asked, reached out and said, Would you be on the Lift As You Climb podcast?

Isabel:

What did you, what did that mean for you?

Isabel:

What did it trigger in your thoughts?

Isabel:

Um,

Marion:

it triggered, um, memories of all the people who, who helped me along the

Marion:

way, and some of them don't even know it.

Marion:

Yeah.

Marion:

I think of, I think her name was Julie Rockefeller when Rockefeller was,

Marion:

um, the governor of West Virginia.

Marion:

His wife started, uh, communal sewing groups of women who sewed things

Marion:

like quilts and, and other handcrafts and sold them for the same reason.

Marion:

I'm doing that with other women here.

Marion:

Uh, they had a talent, they had a skill, um, that wasn't

Marion:

being used but could be used.

Marion:

She's always been a role model for.

Marion:

Um, I think of the women that I met at Enterprising Women, we, I sat on their

Marion:

advisory board and we'd get together and I'd sit there going, When they

Marion:

find out I own a bed and breakfast and have a stone mix, they're gonna

Marion:

burst out laughing because they're running construction companies and.

Marion:

Asphalt companies in Washington, DC and all these things that are

Marion:

bringing in millions of dollars.

Marion:

And, um, I found out that they didn't, They were intrigued and I found out

Marion:

that regardless of the size of your business, we all have the same problems.

Marion:

, maybe the scale is different, but they're all the same problems.

Isabel:

I absolutely confirm that from personal experience.

Marion:

Yes.

Marion:

And that was just such a revelation to me.

Marion:

Um, I think of the women in Nabo, uh, particularly in, in Tucson, because

Marion:

they struggled too, and it was very interesting for me to find out.

Marion:

How they dealt with those struggles and how they relied on one another not to

Marion:

buy their products, but for support.

Marion:

Mm-hmm.

Marion:

, it's, um, and I find that with my, my women here.

Marion:

Um, Language is very interesting, uh, because I don't speak

Marion:

Bahasa Indonesia very well.

Marion:

My brain is, is far too old to acquire it with any grace and dignity.

Marion:

And I know two words in Boies.

Marion:

Uh, literally two words.

Marion:

Um, English skills on their side is, , but how do you teach a skill

Marion:

to a group of women who don't speak the same language you do?

Marion:

And the answer is technology.

Marion:

YouTube is wonderful and they are the ones who discovered that.

Isabel:

Ha

Marion:

it I, I said earlier, I'm a technological Tera, Doctor , and it never

Marion:

crossed my mind, even though I knew.

Marion:

Those crochet lessons were out there, but they learned, um,

Marion:

how to follow them in English.

Marion:

And uh, so I have, uh, a substitute teacher who does quite, quite

Marion:

nicely, so, and they share this information with each other.

Marion:

It's a communal society here in Bali and they share information.

Marion:

There isn't that, Well, I'm not telling her because then she'll be

Marion:

able to do something I can't do.

Marion:

There's none of that, which makes it very nice.

Marion:

Me,

Isabel:

I uh, and there again, they are living the Lift As You Climb model...

Isabel:

helping each other, learning from each other.

Isabel:

Lifting.

Isabel:

Oh, definitely Lifting each other.

Isabel:

Lifting the entire community.

Isabel:

Right Marion...?

Marion:

It's part of their culture...

Marion:

It...

Marion:

Alright, so tell me just a little bit about that.

Marion:

I recognize it's late at night for you, but that's a, If I could sprinkle

Marion:

more of what you just said around the world, I would like to do so.

Marion:

So, The cultural aspect of helping each other.

Marion:

It, uh, it stands to reason.

Marion:

the best example I can give you of that is, I have a granddaughter who is

Marion:

now 13 months old, but when that baby was born, her feet were not allowed to

Marion:

touch the ground or the floor for 105.

Marion:

That's three months on the Bolonese calendar, which is

Marion:

reliant on the moon, not the sun.

Marion:

Uh, and you think, Well, what difference does that make?

Marion:

And so on and so forth.

Marion:

Well, that child was passed.

Marion:

If mom was busy, then Dad took the child, or grandma took the child, or

Marion:

one of the cleaning staff took the child not expecting payment for babysitting.

Marion:

It was a baby who was in.

Marion:

And that was it.

Marion:

Um, if the community knows of someone who needs food, the community

Marion:

gets together and helps that person, uh, as much as they can.

Marion:

If there's a family who's having difficulties, they sit down with the

Marion:

leader of the community and he mediates.

Marion:

The women help one another.

Marion:

It's, it's really quite amazing and one of the reasons we moved here.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

So many more questions I have to ask of you, Marion and and I, I hope that

Isabel:

we will have that opportunity soon.

Isabel:

And I have two right now that are absolutely priorities

Isabel:

and one is, what can we do?

Isabel:

What can we as our audience do to help?

Isabel:

Lift more of the women that you are helping send

Marion:

yarn, which is not inexpensive.

Marion:

Mi um, shipping costs have skyrocketed.

Marion:

It scared us to death, but people keep coming through, um, or send money.

Marion:

It's easier to send money.

Marion:

The money will buy sewing machines.

Marion:

The yarn that we can get is not the same quality.

Marion:

And one thing that's a selling point for us is the quality of the yarn we have.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

So, uh, that's a, that's a shout out.

Isabel:

That's a call to action for anyone who is listening, uh, to this episode.

Isabel:

Check your cupboards and drawers and craft baskets for the things that you

Isabel:

are not using and put them to use.

Isabel:

And

Marion:

it doesn't have to be a full scan or a full ball.

Marion:

It can be leftovers.

Marion:

In fact we get leftovers from, uh, Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona.

Isabel:

Well, I was, that was gonna be my next, or go to your local charity shop

Isabel:

or thrift store or Goodwill organization, and there's lots of people that are

Isabel:

Marie condoning lives right now...

Isabel:

Downsizing,

Isabel:

I know in Tucson, uh, my dear friend and yours, Gina Murphy Darling and her husband

Isabel:

James, they made great hauls regularly.

Isabel:

Uh, But let's, let's talk about Goodwill Industries, and something you shared

Isabel:

with me when we were off the air...

Isabel:

and, and give them a shout out.

Marion:

It, uh, Gina, our mutual friend, went to the director and...

Marion:

Look, this is what's going on...

Marion:

Because when people say, Well, I wanna send yarn, what kind do you want?

Marion:

And I say, Any kind, in fact, go to the Goodwill, buy the yarn there.

Marion:

It's less expensive for you and it helps them.

Marion:

So you get to help charities abroad and at home.

Marion:

Absolutely.

Marion:

So Gina took it one more step and went to Matthew and said,

Marion:

Matthew, this is what's going on.

Marion:

And he said, I'll send yarn from the 20 stores in Southern Arizona.

Marion:

We're very excited.

Marion:

I can't wait till the first group gets here.

Marion:

Now my daughter did something, um, she's a research scientist for the

Marion:

Australian government and she put a large box in the office, break

Marion:

room and said, My mom is collecting yarn to teach women how to crochet.

Marion:

So people who.

Marion:

Listen to I, it was one of the big US papers who said, If you have to spend

Marion:

time, why don't you take up knitting?

Marion:

And people thought, That's a great idea.

Marion:

I'll take up knitting.

Marion:

And then they thought that they, they went out and bought

Marion:

beautiful yarn and hated knitting.

Marion:

Um, so the box got filled.

Marion:

Um, and grandma may have liked to crochet, but daughter hated to crochet.

Marion:

So, uh, we, we get our yarn from.

Marion:

Various and sundry sources.

Isabel:

All right, so question, Um, yarn and crochet, is

Isabel:

that called cotton or thread?

Isabel:

Is it still called yarn?

Marion:

Um, here it's all called string.

Marion:

Um, but the crochet cotton is for lacey, lacey things.

Marion:

Okay.

Marion:

Uh, the toys and so on...

Marion:

Just go with your regular yarn or bulky yarn or baby weight yarn.

Marion:

Any weight, what we would call yarn.

Marion:

In England and Australia, they call it wool.

Marion:

Whether it's acrylic, it doesn't matter, it's still wool.

Marion:

And like I said, here, everything is referred to as string.

Marion:

We will take all.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

In the show notes of this episode, I will include the instructions, the

Isabel:

address, and just a list of, um, what you could donate, uh, and how to, so

Isabel:

the address to send it to, but also if, if what you'd rather do is send money.

Marion:

And I'm like, Oh, I can send you directions to how to do that too.

Marion:

Yeah,

Isabel:

we're gonna provide all of that because that is also very easily

Isabel:

done, and I encourage you, uh, get your clubs, your churches, your

Isabel:

neighbors, your office colleagues.

Isabel:

Involved in this.

Isabel:

It's so easy and it's so fun.

Isabel:

I, I'm, I'm thinking back to our, uh, Rotary Club in Tucson, Sun

Isabel:

Sunrise, where Ginger, Ginger Garcia, with her insurance agency

Isabel:

office, she had a collection box and.

Isabel:

Not only did our staff contribute, but neighboring businesses and clients,

Isabel:

uh, and or their organizations.

Isabel:

So it's easy to get some momentum going and then make sure it's clean and

Isabel:

packaged up to transport and will provide you the instructions and all of that.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

So excited by this.

Isabel:

I hope this inspires others.

Isabel:

Gives you ideas on on how you can Lift and Climb and start something that

Isabel:

will have sustainable positive impact.

Isabel:

And you don't have to have it all figured out first.

Isabel:

Just get going.

Isabel:

Like Marion and her Rotary colleagues did before.

Isabel:

I let you get off to your evening, Marion...

Isabel:

Would you share something that we haven't already talked about...

Isabel:

That we probably can't find on Google about you?

Marion:

Let me see.

Marion:

It must have been in the early nineties, in the early 1990s.

Marion:

I, uh, cooked and served lunch for the then Minister of Technology of

Marion:

Indonesia in Pittsburgh, and that was BJ Habibi who became president.

Marion:

Amazing on a houseboat going up and down the three rivers in Pi.

Marion:

He had come to see Rockwell International.

Marion:

It was still headquartered there and Westinghouse to talk about.

Marion:

I, I'm not sure, I was never privy to what they talked about, but it had something

Marion:

to do with technology and the party person at Rockwell International called

Marion:

me because of the job I had at the time and said, I need an Indonesian cook.

Marion:

And I said, Well, good.

Marion:

because there are no Indonesian restaurants here.

Marion:

Well, there are Indonesian students.

Marion:

And I said, Yes, there are, but trust me, if uh, if you can send your child

Marion:

to the United States to go to college, uh, he doesn't know how to cook.

Marion:

Uh, he has a cook.

Marion:

Um, but she would not let up.

Marion:

And I finally said, Look, I'm the only person I know who cooks Indonesian food.

Marion:

And she said, You'll.

Marion:

Wow.

Marion:

So I ended up on a houseboat on the Monongahela River, um, and

Marion:

the Ohio and the Allegheny Rivers.

Marion:

Uh, cooking lunch for soon to be President.

Marion:

BJ Habibi, his wife and his entourage.

Isabel:

Oh, that must have been nerve-wracking.

Isabel:

Oh, fun.

Marion:

It was fun.

Marion:

And of course he told me it was delicious because his culture wouldn't

Marion:

allow him to say anything else but

Isabel:

Well, so I'm curious, did he ever reciprocate and invite

Isabel:

you to the, to the presidential mention for a meal afterwards?

Isabel:

No.

Isabel:

Oh, darn it.

Isabel:

Darn it all.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

Anything else that you would like to share today, or perhaps

Isabel:

Any tips that you have for anybody who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Marion:

Well, I really don't feel comfortable with anyone

Marion:

following in my footsteps.

Marion:

They can walk beside me, and will support each other along the way, so that we

Marion:

can do what, what needs to be done.

Marion:

Um, we all need help, and we can all help one another.

Isabel:

Very well said!

Isabel:

Thank you Marion...

Isabel:

And I would very much like to walk beside you!

Marion:

Thank you.

Marion:

Oh, good, good, good.

Marion:

And I'll be in touch to see how I can apply to be a member of your Rotary club.

Marion:

For now to all.

Marion:

Uh, I hope that this has lifted you and inspired you, uh, on how you can

Marion:

go out and make a difference in the world, small way or a growing way.

Marion:

For now, thank you everyone.

Marion:

Goodbye, Marion.

Marion:

Talk soon.

Marion:

Talk soon and

Marion:

I'll get those addresses to you first thing in the morning,

Marion:

my morning, your afternoon,

Isabel:

and they will be shared.

Isabel:

And please if you're listening...

Isabel:

Make sure you share this episode.

Isabel:

Let's really have a, a positive tsunami effect by letting more people

Isabel:

in the world know about Sewing For A Living and the other great causes.

Isabel:

And that this started not only as a local community thing, but now has an

Isabel:

impact helping to save the rainforest.

Isabel:

So you just never know where the journey will take you...

Isabel:

But just get on board and go!

Isabel:

Right?

Marion:

And think about buying one of those cute little Orangutans.

Isabel:

Oh, I'm, I'm doing it for sure.

Isabel:

. Okay.

Isabel:

All right.

Isabel:

Thank you.

About the Podcast

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Lift As You Climb
Live Your Legacy; Empower Others to Create Theirs

About your host

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Isabel Alexander

Dynamic, self-made entrepreneur who overcame obstacles with an unrelenting positive nature, a farm girl work ethic and a conscious choice to thrive rather than survive, Isabel Alexander Banerjee cultivated an award winning, $10 million+ global chemical wholesale business and grew it from dining room table to international boardrooms.

Isabel’s strengths include the ability to initiate & nurture strategic relationships, a love of lifelong learning and talents for helping others maximize their potential. An inspiring speaker within both industry and community, she is a driving force behind those with the courage to follow her example of thriving against the odds.

With 50+ years of business experience across diverse industries, Isabel is respected as an advisor, a coach, a mentor and a role model. She believes in sharing collective wisdom and empowering others to economic independence.

Isabel Alexander
Your Next Business Strategist and Transformation Catalyst