Tag Archive: north carolina state university


january is for jumping back in

After a hiatus for break, the interns are back on track.  We have restructured a little bit to make our work more efficient.  We all meet at the same time now instead of having separate meeting times.  As PDail gets ready to co-lead a relief trip to Haiti, the interns have a big surprise for everyone.  I can’t tell you what it is yet, but be looking out for some exciting new things.  We’ve come up with some excellent goals to improve the amount of online traffic we receive.  Selling our handmade crafts and jewelry can be difficult online, but we have some cool solutions in the works.

In other news, I will be investigating how fair trade and microcredit loans are interrelated in my senior research for International Studies.  I am excited to be able to apply things I have learned in my degrees towards my work with Beleza.  The Caldwell Fellows and I just invested in a microcredit loan to help a farmer in Ecuador buy more farming equipment.  He is producing oranges, cassava, corn and cacao.  We used kiva.org as the broker for the loan.

Josè Narciso Quinatoa Arias

Meet Josè Narciso Quinatoa Arias, the borrower.

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developing new skills

Today, the web team is going to meet to learn how to use dreamweaver.  Adobe offers free training materials on their website, so Tracy and the other interns are going to learn how to use some of the features.    I am excited that this internship is going to teach them new skills while they are helping a worthy cause.

In other news, the non-profit focus group has had a couple of meetings now and they are reading over the non-profit laws and doing some basic research.  The interns are really enthusiastic.  I and they have a lot to learn before we can proceed with making any concrete plans.

In other news, we are still high in the search results when you run a google search for “fair trade.”  This is really really exciting!  We thought it was temporary but it has stayed.  I think this blog has a lot to do with it.  Another search term we want to optimize is “fair trade store,” because if people are going shopping then they might search for this instead of just searching fair trade.

We have some very talented students.  I am delighted that so many freshman and sophomores have stepped up to the plate.  My e-mail is also flooded with requests from others who want to participate, but I can’t coordinate that many people all at once!  (I also have a managerial job with a staff of 15, so right now I’m leading 27 people…)

The institute for non-profits has put posters all over campus about the myths of working for a non-profit.  It’s nice to see this publicity.  Hopefully we can begin a partnership with them soon.  Our non-profits team leader, Kenneth, knows some of the people there and is pursuing the minor.  I’m excited to see this relationship grow.

so many resources

Today, I made a presentation at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference downtown for some volunteer work with Cultural Correspondents while I was abroad in Spain.  After my presentation, I had the chance to attend two sessions relevant to our work at Beleza.  The first session was about building nonprofit infrastructure capacity within the university.  There were two speakers from the NC State Institute for Nonprofits and one from Habitat for Humanity.  I had the chance to meet Dr. Mary Tscirhart, who is going to meet with one of the professors from the non-profits minor at State to see how they can help with the focus group.  Later, I went to a session on economic development, partially becuase it was of personal interest.  A speaker from Penn State University, New Kensington campus also started a 501(c)3 non-profit to better the New Kensington community.  I had the chance to speak with him about how involved the process was, and one of his recommendations was to search for an attorney who would be interested in providing pro-bono services.  I am looking for someone who is interested in helping our cause but can find ways to let the interns participate.  If anyone has contacts, let us know!

non-profit or not?

When PDail started the store 6 years ago, an attorney advised him that becoming a non-profit entity would be too much of a headache and hold him back. There is a Nonprofit Studies program at NC State. My goal is to create a non-profit focus group. These interns will do research to see if becoming non-profit is feasable, list advantages and disadvantages, and make a presentation to the owner. If the owner decides it will be in the best interest of the store to become non-profit, the interns will devise a plan and carry out the conversion of the store. I’m currently in contact with a faculty member from NC State to see if the students can get course credit.

a swiftly changing vision

I came to the owner of Beleza, Philip Dail, with a proposition: let me be the events coordinator for the store. I would contact trade shows and arts festivals to get the store a place to sell the art and jewelry. Get the Beleza name out to Raleigh and the NC State community. simple enough, right?

After meeting with PDail (his preferred name), the wheels started turning. I realized that with PDail’s teaching and his wife’s constant managing of the store, the two hardly have time to breathe.

My vision changed: create a small army of volunteer interns. I am setting up a web team (the online orders section of the store needs to be managed), a graphic design team (for store publicity at events), and a non-profit focus group.

I am stunned at the response I have gotten from NC State students already! I sent e-mails through listservs and created a job posting on ePack, the NC State employment database.

My vision changed overnight: Create teams of volunteer interns to focus on functional areas of the store (web, publicity, events, etc.) and draw from the NC State community to fill these positions. Build sustainability into the program by documenting the whole process and creating a training manual for future interns.

what is beleza?

Beleza is a fair-trade boutique in the Cameron Village shopping center in Raleigh, NC.  Started by an NC State professor, the store sells women’s jewelry, accessories and textiles imported from 15 countries.  Each item has a story.  The artisans have seen their skills grow as the quality of life for their families grows.  I am proud to be involved with such an amazing effort.  The store accepts online orders, or if you’re in Raleigh, check it out one day at Cameron Village.

Visit the store: Beleza