My Labour of Love

Charity can be money, physical help or even a smile…

Joining ‘notonthehighstreet.com’ inspired me to begin selling my products online in 2013. The idea was there at an earlier stage but due to the untimely circumstances of the recession, jobs became very scarce, particularly for individuals in my position of being an economic migrant. Visa applications and justification was costly, but jumping these extra hurdles got me to where I am today.

Growing up in Nairobi chaperoned me into believing that we as humans should share, no matter how little we have. Charity is not only monetary, but offered in the form of a kind gesture, and paying forward what others have bestowed upon you. I am Muslim and charity is one of the basis of my belief, it keeps me sane and positive, in a world which often seems so bleak.

At the time, I was working as an unpaid intern so decided that what I offer was my imagination. I began to occupy my time by solidifying my ideas but progress was soon halted when I realized how unsustainable this was without sufficient feedback and the financial costs. I then decided to sell my creations at the local fair and because I had completely absorbed the production and labour costs, I was able to give away as much as possible from the sales that day.

I am often challenged with the question about our values and methods of communicating them to our customers from which I reply, “it is important the customer is aware of the social causes they have contributed to by shopping with us”. I strongly believe that when connecting products with a social cause, it provides a comparative advantage over competitors, whilst promoting awareness for the smaller charities that perhaps often go unnoticed. As well as this, each design and print is tailored specifically to reflect the charity in mind.
Another aspect I feel strongly about is maintaining a communication once the sale has been made. A personal note is always addressed to the customer thanking their support, whilst encouraging them to post pictures on their various social media sites, to further our exposure. In addition to this, a free gift is included which customers are encouraged to give away to raise awareness for our #giftsthatgiveback.

What makes us stand out as a brand?

Brands today have forgotten that each customer is an individual, with different preferences, different ideas, each and every one distinguishable from the next. Our uniqueness is something we often over look in our drive to fit in and here is where I excel. Requesting feedback and encouraging customization allows for an engaging piece of art, whilst maintaining prices at a healthy and honest level. Consistent communication is imperative whilst garnering interest from social media platforms is also key for connecting with other creatives.

“Here at ‘Samphire Arts’ we know our intentions and we know ourselves — So I’m going to put a little bit of me in every design, making it a personal gift, from me to you”

Getting to know the customer is something I also enjoy doing and strive to include little ‘freebies’ based on interests I have picked up from our exchanges. Although some may suggest this could be unsustainable for a small local business like my own, however I argue it accomplishes a sense of humanity in the transaction.
 
“…I guess the word I’m looking for here is personal, I’ll provide you with the best customer service”

Part 2 coming soon…

Alejandro Fernandez Holt