We all need inspiration… that feeling of hope, the reassurance that no matter where you’ve come from or where you’re at right now, anything is possible. We all feel inspired at times, some of us every single day and some of us, not nearly enough. Inspiration drives hope, mobilizes dreams and can sometimes completely change the course of someone’s life.
For a lot of people, achieving success in their chosen career can be difficult. For those first starting out, it can be hard finding that very first job and the chance to show someone their talent and drive. For those who have been working in their career for many years…maybe work has become stagnant and they’ve lost some of the drive they once had.
I believe the 350 people in attendance at JJ Bean’s Story Telling Night on March 13, got a large dose of inspiration through the ten local business owners who shared their own stories of success. We heard from John Neate from JJ Bean, David Labistour from MEC and others, including JusTea’s Grayson Bain. It was incredible to see how they got their start, how their career or business grew and the ups and downs they experienced. Success has to start somewhere and these local business leaders really proved how a simple idea can turn into just that.
The Story Telling Night was in support of JJ Bean’s habitat team who just came back from their trip to Guatemala to build homes with Habitat for Humanity Canada. The Story Telling Night was powered by Pecha Kucha 20X20. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a simple presentation format where a presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds each.
It was a wonderful opportunity to witness JusTea’s story through the power of photographs and through the words of its founder, Grayson. JusTea’s story is inspirational in many ways but at its core is the Kenyan tea farmers and families they partner with. Although a job in Kenya is very different from a job here in Canada, we are all working towards similar goals… to support ourselves and/or our families. The difference is most of us in Canada, not all, don’t have to fight for a living wage.
As Grayson said at Story Telling Night, JusTea is creating jobs and connecting local people with those jobs. He spoke of how Kenya is the number one exporter of black tea but the tea leaf that small farmers sell has no market value before it is factory processed. Then the price they get depends on the world tea prices. Families growing tea are some of the poorest people in Kenya. These days, half a million small farmers sell tea to the factory and get to keep as little as two dollars a day. Some don’t have the choice between food, medicine and education. JusTea is working to change that.
Grayson and his wife Grace have a vision. Along with the rest of their passionate employees at their small office in Vancouver, they want to help change the lives of thousands of rural families. Most of the families they work with never had the chance to taste the tea they grew for factories after working the land for generations. To watch them, for the first time, take a sip of their own tea…tea they planted, cultivated, picked and then processed themselves through JusTea, was incredibly inspiring to Grayson.
JusTea celebrates the dozens of farmers in Kenya who have stuck it out with them, a new and growing business. Their vision is to employ 50,000 farmers and Grayson said in this day of small beginnings, they are anticipating great things.
Stories like this one and the others shared at Story Telling Night are proof of what can be achieved with a vision, hard work, a positive attitude and a little…inspiration.