A good friend of mine wrote a blog post a few weeks ago that spoke somewhere deep in my heart as to what I wanted Dot to be. You can read the whole post by this incredible girl here, but this line in particular has been bumping around in my head for days.
You see, I understand that what I do here at Dot isn't for everyone.
Some people don't need school supplies. They're finished with school and in a different season of life. Some people are just fine with the plastic binders you can get at the local big-box store, and there's no shame in that (although it breaks my heart a tiny bit to know many people just don't know about the difference they could make). Some people are focused on the problems right here in America (thank goodness for you!), and some simply can't pay the extra money it costs to buy our products.
I get it, and over the past few years as I've had conversations with people about the potential of Dot, many have said "You should try to get into (insert any number of large retail or chain store).". I've entertained thoughts of making Dot huge and ridiculously successful. I've wanted it to become a TOMS and prayed prayers focused on those exact thoughts. (And in many ways, I still want many of those things for Dot. Let's be real, that'd be a lot of kids in a lot of schools.)
But Elizabeth's blog post that day reminded me that Dot is my own little creation. She's my baby (because let's be real, there's no ring on my left ring finger and the thought of having a real baby is terrifying. I'll stick to making sure other people's children get to go to school.) and I get to make her exactly what I want to make her.
Over the past year, I've written and rewritten business plans and proposals out the wazoo. In a year that many of my friends wedding planned, I spent my free time reading articles on Entrepreneur.com and researching the best eco-friendly made-in-America school supplies and going to lunch with anyone who would let me pick their brains apart on whatever business or social justice related thing they were involved in. I've dreamed more this year than ever before and found new levels of creativity and drive within myself that I didn't imagine existed. Currently, I have 500 journals and 150 pencil sets sitting in boxes and on shelves all over my bedroom and 500 binders in the mail. Dot is my reality and has been for some time. And I love her. Because she's a part of me. Today, she's fully me.
If I was sitting with you, I'd tell you that I'm so excited about her. So excited to get to see this story unfold. To get to see the faces of children around the world and visit crazy countries where my work is making a difference. It's literally what I've wanted my whole life, and it's happening. And I want to make sure that she continues to be something I love. That it never becomes about the facts and statistics--not because those are bad but they aren't the thing that drive me--that I always remember the fire that first burned when Dot was just a dream in an Entrepreneurship class in college.
My prayer is this: that she becomes everything she is supposed to become. Whether that means we sell 100 journals or 100,000. Whether we educate 5 children or 500,000. Whether we do it for 20 months or 20 years. My prayer is that Dot is always a place that comes alive for the people who care. That she never becomes a job but remains the thing I stay up until midnight joyfully working on and get up at 6am brimming with new ideas.
My prayer for you is the same for the things you love.
That you never call out obnoxiously for the attention you desire (because I've been there and it leaves you drained and exhausted, not fully alive like you hope), but that people come because people care. Because you've created a world that people can get invested into. Because your work shows the evidence of His incredible love for all of us.
And, for anyone who asked, my suggestion on your future plans would be, "determine the thing you are most passionate about and work your bottom off to make it your full-time thing." That's where I find myself today, in the middle of the "work your bottom off" part. But it's so worth it, and it's so good. Because life is short and it's simply not worth the time you spend being anything less than 100% who you have been created to be.