Dear 3E Lovers,
I am so happy to announce the 2014 Project Everywhere Update. Not only do we have our annual Celebration Sale commemorating our successes spreading our social message, but I have several pieces of exciting news to share as well.
Before I update you on Project Everywhere, thanks and appreciation are due! It is only with your love and support since my sister Annie (our founder) passed away in 2009 that I have been able to build an international community brand around her Wheelchair Heart and the 3 E's. Every time you have made a purchase or been to one of our events, you have made an investment in our movement and helped us spread the word to others. Thanks to you, millions of conversations around our symbol and the social acceptance of disability have taken place. That is the awesome power and strength of community. Thank you for being a part of it and helping me carry out Annie's message.
So, on to how far the symbol has spread....
Project Everywhere Stats as of 9/28/14
- More than 21,750 orders
- Across all 50 states and 31 countries!
- At least one in 6,411 zip codes (21.39% nationally)
- In our home state of Illinois, at least one order in 516 zip codes (41% of the state)
- In Texas, at least one order in 497 zip codes (28% of the state)
- In California, at least one order in 490 zip codes (31% of the state)
Even after 5 years, there are still millions of people that have not joined the movement and we will need your continued support getting there.
As a thank you and way to find new 3E Lovers, we have launched a Project Everywhere Celebration Sale with great savings, a new tee, and freebies geared towards starting the conversation of acceptance.
All purchases are an investment in our future....
Since our last update, I personally have been spending most of my time at 3E Love focusing on projects that will contribute to the spirit of our 3 E's - Embrace, Educate, and Empower. In the past year, we have not only expanded the reach of our symbol to thousands of new 3E Lovers all over the world, but we also have created new employment opportunities for people with disabilities through an internship program and have paved the way for years of sustainable growth and loving life!
One of my sisters goals for the company was empowerment through employment of people with disabilities. She hoped that our company, run by people with disabilities (her and I), could be a great example of what is possible for the rest of the business community. We often talked about how we would like to hire more individuals that identify proudly as a person with a disability.
A little over a year ago I began to work on this dream. We partnered with a local school to create an internship program at our office that would create work experience, job skill training, and outside social opportunities for their students. With the help of their job coaches, we identify processes within our business model that each student can help us with and focus on their abilities and how they can be a part of our team. The goal is to find individuals that we can hire as employees as they graduate from our program. I am so proud to say that we have now hired two of these students as part-time employees and dozens of others that have been involved have moved on to other jobs in the community. Our newest intern group includes nine students and my goal is to double the number of hours in the program by next spring and hopefully offer several of them employment for next summer or fall!
Outside of our internship program, I have always been looking to find ways to involve you, members of our 3E Love community, as employees that can help us with the goals of our social movement. In order to do that, I would have to create parts of our model completely separate from our online web store because most of the jobs for our merchandise line can only be done right here at our headquarters.
Well, I am really excited to announce that we will be launching three new web sites in the next few months that if successful will lead to more empowerment through employment and will also help with the other two tenants of our social model - embrace and educate.
In order to make 3E Love a success, we had a choice to make back in 2010, whether or not to take on the role of production of our merchandise or to outsource it. We decided to do it all ourselves and four years later that means we now have a fully staffed decoration company within our model and we have years of experience with design, printing, customer service, fundraising and fulfillment.
In order to continue to employ our staff of 15 and to employ others, I decided to create a sub company called 3E Prints, a disability owned and operated merchandising company. We have casually been getting new customers through word of mouth for a few years now, but we are almost ready to unveil it to the world and officially open our doors for business. Once that happens, you will be able to support our movement by letting us design and print any apparel needs you have! We have already serviced families, schools, non-profits, companies, bands, clubs, and even some large big name corporations.
My goal is for 3E Prints to grow so large that we can employ you as graphic designers, customer service reps, account managers, marketing staff, and on and on and on.. I'm excited!
Even though we don't have an official web site yet you can already send us your business and learn more at www.3eprints.com.
My sister Annie was the outgoing half of our sibling love and business partnership and I was the shy introverted one who sat by a computer 12 hours a day making magic happened behind the scenes. She was supposed to be the face of the company and champion of our social message teaching others how to follow the 3 E's. Her passion was working with others, speaking at camps and schools and just being.... Everywhere!
When Annie passed away, I knew that I would have to do things I was not comfortable with in order to make 3E Love a reality. I had to quickly learn how to leave my computer's side and talk to strangers. I had to open up my life to others, sharing our story and putting myself out there. It was extremely difficult at first and it was awkward and scary and I had doubts of my abilities. Over time with more experience and with all of your love and support, it became second nature and I started to really enjoy it as I loved life more and more.
A year or two into it a conference wanted me to speak. Then a camp. Then a school. Then a company... A few years later, I have spoken to dozens of audiences and told them the story of 3E Love and how I learned to love life through it all. Just this past week I spoke to four different groups in Canada! It has been extremely rewarding personally, giving me the opportunity to reach others directly and teach them about acceptance and it has been a therapeutic experience, helping me grieve Annie's loss and learn more about myself and what I want out of my life and my life's work. Just writing this and opening up to you with written words... Well it feels right.
Soon I will launch Stevie Speaks officially. I want to go on tour telling the world Annie's message and sharing my story. So many of you use our symbol to educate others every day, and I want to do my part!
Learn more at www.StevieSpeaks.com
In 2006, Annie came home to our dorm in Champaign, Illinois with a new tattoo. The Wheelchair Heart symbol was freshly inked on her shoulder blade. Later that year in the summer, a dozen of her closest friends at camp also got the tattoo. That experience and the positive feedback on her tattoo is what inspired her to start 3E Love as more than just a symbol.
Years later, thousands of people that have stories of their own have a tattoo inspired by 3E Love and the Wheelchair Heart and we call them our 3E Ink Club! We are currently designing a club web site that will be publicly displayed for the world to see, showing everyone true examples of people who embrace who they are or their loved ones no matter their ability.
If you have a 3E Inspired tattoo and want to be included in the original launch, make sure you sign up at www.3eink.com
In summary, I'm really excited for the progress that we have made spreading the 3E Love all over the globe. It was not possible without you and I thank you endlessly. Hopefully you will be by our side as we launch these new projects and continue to embrace diversity, educate our community, and empower one another.