Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A perfect way to spend an hour of your Thanksgiving: a fantastic documentary on helping the poor

Microlending has changed the world and has given many poverty-stricken people something to be grateful for.  Many organizations are based on the microlending concept, including Nivi Empowerment.

Spend an hour and watch this great documentary.  It gives a good, basic understanding of microlending, and will make you grateful for what you have.


I recently read an article by the Harvard business review on tweaking ideas to make them a success. It made me feel better about what Nivi Empowerment needs to do.

We are pivoting on a few things:
1) 100% of profits go toward helping those that make our products.  We have essentially done this all along, but now it is more straightforward.

2) We are expanding the product line.  Thanks to a great designer, I'm confident that Nivi Empowerment will have better designs than ever. 

3) We are also expanding production in order to make these new designs.  Currently we are looking at options in India, Ecuador, and Mexico.  Our criteria for people that produce Nivi products are simple:  They must be very talented artisans, and must have a legitimate need that is either health or education related.  We are very passionate about helping people from poverty to self-reliance and choose our workers carefully. 

As always, send any thoughts, leads, or suggestions to  Thanks for your thoughts and support!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kyley and I went to the monkey infested (but still pretty cool) town of Mahabilipurum for Valentine's Day and this is what we saw.

Monkeys: Filthiest, most scary animal ever. Remember that monkey doll on Toy Story 3? The obnoxious little thing that is bent on the destruction of all the good toys? That's how I think of monkeys.

... And maybe that example was just for all the eight-year-olds that read this blog, but whatever. For everyone that doesn't rock the kids' section at the local video store, here is a quick video that will illustrate what I'm saying about that evil creature:

The best motivational poster. Ever.

more great people.

There are great people everywhere, and we recently started working with one more. Preethy is a designer that graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, which is recognized as India's top fashion school. She has spent quite a bit of time working for export companies and designing clothes for movies. She has proven to be very competent and the ladies love working with her and learning from her. Rabekha said that it would have been great to have started working with Preethy a year ago. ... Amen to that.

A few days ago I was talking with Preethy about money, making sure that she knew we were going to pay her for her time with us. She told me "it is not about the money." She said that while she was working with the ladies she got a better understanding of what Nivi Empowerment is doing and she wasn't worried about the particulars of the pay scale. How do we keep running into such great people?

(Left to right: Rabekha, Alice Mary, Susan, Preethy - working on skirt designs out of scrap fabric)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


(fishermen silhouette sunrise in Chennai)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yeahndia! photography

Thanks to British Airways and their Face of Opportunity contest, I'm in India now and it is great. There is so much going on, but I just want to post a picture I took on my iPhone that I think is a good representation of some parts of Chennai (note the dude sleeping on the bench to the left of the picture ... oh, and the cow in the road.)

This place is so unique and interesting and it is great to be back.

I sometimes get lucky and get a picture that isn't completely bad, but there is a lot of photography (taken by other people) on this blog and the Nivi website that is really good.

That photography has done wonders for the company so I just wanted to mention the people that made the good pictures happen.

Matt Barr - Matt is super easy to work with and hits the exact look that we ask for. We have gotten lots of compliments on his photos and they have increased our sales considerably. Maybe it's his Australian accent, but I always feel like a big deal when I'm at his photoshoots.

(Matt at a Nivi Empowerment photoshoot)

Rosalyn Caywood - - Rosalyn takes great pictures, is super creative and is fun to be around. Maybe that is why she gets genuine smiles? People love her work.

Matt Irving - Matt is a maverick. Not a maverick like John McCain, but more in the dictionary sense of the word. He is probably going to be the next person to be on the Dos Equis campaign for the world's most interesting man, keeps a lol-funny blog, and knows what he's doing behind the camera. His site is

However, since those people aren't in India now, I'll be posting my sub-standard pictures for the next couple of weeks. Enjoy...

Monday, January 3, 2011

British Airways Face of Opportunity contest: won.

To all the people that voted for us and told others to vote for us: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

British Airways is hooking Nivi Empowerment up with a conference in New York, then London, then a free flight to Chennai and back. We are going to use the trip to get new designs started, figure out logistics, and buy some of the coolest fabric that has ever existed. Get ready for Spring, because it is going to be good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rabekha saying thanks

Cami and EmmaJane recently saw this video and suggested that it needs to go on the blog. It was shot quite awhile ago, but shows the kind of ladies that we work with. Thanks for your help in supporting them.

In this video, Rabekha thanks Brett's mom for making the original pattern.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


So Elliot's Angels puts on a really good boutique and they raise a lot of money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I recently found out that Nivi Empowerment was the top seller at their Christmas boutique last week. Thank you for your support!