Girl Power!

As you may (or may not) know, Mr. Yarnista (aka Big Mike Mike) is a pretty darn good guy. Like, a really good guy. When we opened Firefly Fibers in the spring of 2010, I was quite honestly... TERRIFIED. (And this is a huge understatement.) I left a well-paying, comfortable job that not only provided benefits like health insurance, vacation & sick time, but also regular paycheck. I want to say that we "gave things up", but the truth is, we just had to put things like days off, family vacations, and extra spending "on hold" while I focused on getting the shop up and running. 

I wasn't ever confident that I could make this work (starting a new business is never a sure thing), but Mike was betting on me and that kept pushing me forward, especially on the hard days. Over the last 8 years, he has never wavered in his reassurance that I could (and would) be successful as an entrepreneur. Today, I'm barely able to keep up with the knitters (some days I can't) and I'm so proud of and thankful for Firefly Fibers and its knitting community. Ya'll are the best!

So, what does this have to do with "Girl Power"? Well, I know that not every woman has the support, encouragement, or financial opportunity from their partner, friends, or family to go out on a limb and take a chance on a life-changing career path. And... today is International Women's Day, so I'd like to pay it forward and help other women be successful. Did you know that the first National Women's Day was in 1909 (in the United States) after women protested working conditions in the garment industry and the United Nations started celebrating it in 1975 during International Women's Year? More dates here on the United Nations website and even more on International Women's Day here on the official website

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first arch WD gathering supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Yarnista's kind heart has been focused on International Women's Day and he shared his beautiful idea during our last podcast - to help other women around the world achieve their entrepreneurial dreams via micro-lending with the Firefly Fibers lending team on kiva.org! Of course, we're partial to women in the textile industry, but lending to anyone (man or woman in any industry) to help them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams is the end goal.

WHAT IS MICRO-LENDING? Sometime in the early 2000's, I read Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus and was moved by how a small amount of money (a micro-loan) can literally change someone's life (he also inspired the Kiva founders). Unfortunately, Kiva wasn't yet born at that time and micro-lending wasn't a matter a of just a few clicks on the Internet to help someone on the other side of the world. Thankfully, Kiva has changed that and is changing lives $25 (or more) at a time.

HOW DOES KIVA WORK AND IS IT SAFE? Yes, there's always a chance that a loan could default, but Kiva has a 96.9% loan repayment rate (when they repay, your money is returned and you can loan it out to someone else) and they've been around since 2005. Read more about the loan process and how it works here on kiva.org. Mr. Yarnista has yet to have a loan default. *knock on wood*

AM I LOANING ON KIVA? We both are! Mike's been at it for a while (he actually gave Kiva gift cards to family members as Christmas gifts this year) and I signed up for a Kiva lending account today, joined the Firefly Fibers team, and set up 2 loans in less than half an hour.

In keeping with International Women's Day, I loaned $25 each to help these women achieve their loan fulfillment (click through to read more about each, to see their loan progress, and support them):

Amani

Amani is in Palestine and she's 25 years old. Her loan is for a sewing machine, yarn and fabric.

Hli

Hli is in Thailand and her loan is for raw materials for weaving as she transitions into the role of main breadwinner of her family.

Again, as a woman-owned and operated business, Mike and I want to help other women in the textile industry achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, but we/you can loan to anyone! 

I hope this has inspired you to join our Kiva team and support entrepreneurs around the world! If you have any questions about micro-lending (or anything else really), just leave us a comment.

CHEERS!

24 at 42

Hello!  It's Mike here & I'm back to take over Alisa's blog...for good reasons, I assure you!

I'm going to do it again.  I knew even before I finished last time that I was going to do it again & I've been looking forward to ever since.  That's right, on November 4th I'll be completing a 24-hour marathon gaming session for Extra Life and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Extra Life is a charity group that organizes gamers of all flavors to raise money for their local Children's Miracle Network hospitals.  Extra Lifers have raised over $30 million dollars since its inception in 2008 & last year alone raised over $9 million.  People raise money all throughout the year, but the major event is the 24-hour gaming marathon which is exactly what it sounds like...stay awake for 24 straight hours to play games.  It can be card games, board games, video games...whatever the participant wants to do.  I'll once again be playing video games.  Mostly because it's fun, but also because I can live stream the whole thing over on my Twitch channel so awesome people like you can hang out with me & anyone else who wanders into chat.

Children's Miracle Network hospitals provide life-saving care for kids regardless of financial situation.  Things like diabetes, cancer, newborn & fetal care are all treatments that can be done at this network of hospitals.  And this, ultimately, is why I participate in Extra Life.  No child should have their life cut short, and no parent should have to lose their child to a curable disease simply because they lacked the funds to pay for the care.

 
 

Last year was the first time I actively participated in Extra Life even though I had known about it for a few years.  It was quite an experience.  It sounds easy!  Who doesn't want to sit around and play games to help kids?  And, to be honest, it really wasn't too bad...until around hour 18.  That would have been right around 4am.  For much of the previous day I had people stopping into the Twitch chat to hang out and keep me company, but at 4am all of the smart people are sleeping & had been for quite a while.

Luckily I had prepared really well for the event.  My first instinct was to just eat pizza & drink beer all day.  Again, that sounds pretty great in theory, but would have been a disaster in practice.  Alisa was a huge help in preparing healthy meals and snacks to keep me going.  Just knowing that there were delicious turkey wraps waiting in the fridge really helped.  And, yes, I did have some coffee...probably around that 4am time I mentioned earlier.  This is what I looked like a little over 20 hours into the marathon.  In my head I thought I was doing a big exaggerated goofy smile, but apparently not?

 
ExtraLife 2016.jpg
 

So, I really hope that you will consider donating to this amazing cause.  If you aren't financially able to make a donation, I totally understand.  In either case, I'd really appreciate it if you could share my donation page on your social media sites with your friends and family.

Oh yeah!  I'm going to give away some prizes this year!  For every $15 you donate you'll get 1 entry into the prize drawing...$45 gets you 3 entries, etc.  You could win fabulous things like a dozen chocolate chip cookies baked by ME, an Extra Life phone case, Steam codes for games AND, the thing that most of you reading this will want, I'll have TWO $25 gift certificates from Firefly Fibers!!!

AND, if we hit the $1,000 goal in time before November 4th I'll dye my hair in time for the stream to match this years Extra Life shirt (Black, Blue, Pink, or Green).  If you donate any amount you'll get to vote on the color!  Make sure to include your email address when you donate so I can send you the link to the poll.

I'm really excited for November 4th!

P.S. - 42 is my age. :)

A Really Good Guy...

Life presents us with unexpected gifts and challenges. Yesterday, life challenged us in the biggest of ways as we said goodbye to our dear Logan. 

 
 Horicon Marsh - July 2016

Horicon Marsh - July 2016

 

I can confidently say that Logan will remain in our hearts as the best guy ever... he was a gentle giant of epic proportion (11+ years with us and he never uttered a growl), a true lover of being a dog (hopefully super-serious Rollo learned a bit about the fun of being a dog from him), a zealous drinker at the water bowl (and carefree about actually swallowing what was in his mouth while walking away), a backyard explorer (we won't talk about what he spent a fair amount of time looking for), a fabulous hunter (watch out backyard rabbits and voles), enthusiastic squirrel chaser (of course he never got one, but he always remained optimistic), a little brother to our beloved Joey (we hope you're playing together again), a big brother to our dear Rollo (oh, how the tables turned with having a youngster in the house),  and (quite simply) he was just a really nice guy. The best guy, really.

 
 Logan and Joey - June 2006

Logan and Joey - June 2006

 

We love all of our dogs and they've all come from sorted backgrounds as rescues, but Logan defeated the odds when he came home with us in 2006 at 3 years old having just recovered from tapeworms and having a tumor removed from his tail. He was left at a dog show (ironically, a Siberian Husky show) and we weren't even at the humane society to look at him. Thankfully, they asked us to and he immediately followed Joey around the yard and then made the winner of all moves, he laid down and rolled onto his back at my feet. We never had a chance and I'm so grateful he chose our family. 

 
 Logan, Rollo and Papa - Winter 2017

Logan, Rollo and Papa - Winter 2017

 

I posted on Instagram during my recent trip to Colorado that our Logan wasn't doing so well and I want to say thank you for all of the comments, messages and kind words - your kindness and love helped both Mike and I through a challenging time. He celebrated his 14th birthday this last February and we know we've been so very lucky to have had him with us this long. Logan had a rough few months and the last few weeks were the most difficult for our little family, and yesterday it was time to let go.  

 
 Our merry band of idiots on the way home from the Green Day show in April.

Our merry band of idiots on the way home from the Green Day show in April.

 

Dearest Logan, we love you and miss you so very much. Thank you for being part of our family. Now, go drool all over Joey, chase those squirrels, and be sure to run to your heart's content (with plenty of unintentional somersaults). xoxo