Our first responsibility is to help sustain the SWDC
Rev. Ann Walling My name is Ann Walling. I first heard of The Stung Treng Women’s Development Center as a member of the board of the Allen Foundation. The Allen Foundation is a small family trust established to help combat poverty around the world. Because of its limited resources, the foundation seeks out projects where it appears that relatively small amounts of money can do the most good. The SWDC proved to be a perfect candidate for Allen Foundation support.
Over the years that the Allen Foundation has supported the SWDC, the more I learned about the organization the more excited I became about the work it was doing. It has been my privilege to get to know Chantha Nguon. She is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. So, while I was pleased that the foundation’s contributions were able to help get SWDC going, I wanted to do more, which is why I started BlueSilk.org.
BlueSilk.org came online in October 2009. Initially, the project was a ministry of the church where I was the associate rector, St. David’s Episcopal in Nashville, Tennessee. The store was managed by a team of enthusiastic volunteers who all contributed enormously to its early success. That year, at the start of the winter holidays, NPR aired a story about Mekong Blue and BlueSilk.org. In the space of a few hours, hundreds of orders poured in. The volunteers worked day and night over the course of more than a week to fill the orders, track the rapidly dwindling inventory, and manage the growing list of backorders.
Marjorie Mason &
Chantha NguonWhile the NPR story was a tremendous blessing, it demonstrated that in order for BlueSilk.org to survive and grow, it needed professional management. I turned to my daughter-in-law, Marjorie Mason, to manage the project and it was transformed from a volunteer organization into a small business. Despite the changes, the mission remains unchanged: to support SWDC with an online marketplace for its beautiful Mekong Blue silk products that gives it a worldwide audience and a steady source of income.
How your purchase payment is distributed
Very special thanks to the Reverend Eric Greenwood and all the volunteers at St. David's Episcopal Church who were so enthusiastic and worked so hard to launch BlueSilk.org. We wouldn't exist if not for their efforts and boundless generosity.
We also owe a huge debt of thanks to Amy Seigenthaler and everyone at Seigenthaler Public Relations. The SPR team has contributed so much to help us not only get the word out about BlueSilk.org, Mekong Blue amd the SWDC, but also to establish this business on a sound footing. We are so grateful for their efforts, excellent advice and continued friendship.
Thanks too to Professor Jim Schorr at Vanderbilt's Owen School of Management for his support, including allowing two of his students, Jessica Huang and Charlie Gerber, to study BlueSilk.org and develop a detailed business plan for us. Charlie and Jessica's thoughtful analysis of our business has proven invaluable.