Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The African T-Shirt Company goes local

When Nate and I first started The African T-Shirt Company to raise funds for our Robertsport-based community NGO, we did things quick and simple. Website? Try Google Sites. Photos? Bring out the digital camera and let's talk some against the wall when the sun is out. Modeling? No one's around--let me go wash my hair.

A year and a half later, and we have a staff of plenty at Tides and a gorgeous rooftop balcony with a view of West Point and the Atlantic. So, we reshot our classic designs and added a few new ones.

Here's Alfred Lomax, in a photo picked up by B-spirit!, the Brussels Airline in-flight magazine. They give it out free at their office in Monrovia, so it has a large local readership.

A new design from Old Star Radio, here's the Ministry of Fun and Drink...

And because Maryedeh of the Tides kitchen enjoyed having her photo taken so much...

You can see the rest--and buy shirts--here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back to Tides

Over the last few months, under different management, Nate and I were able to have the break from Tides we so desperately needed. Start-up is hard work and the ability to hand it to a friend and step back for a bit was a total blessing. We're grateful to our manager friend who took it over as soon as we asked (ahem, begged) him to, and handed it back the moment we said we missed it and wanted back in. Thank you!

So, here we are. We have a wonderful friend who's also invested in the business and is handling all the day-to-day management. At the moment we're creating long-term systems for tracking everything from knives and forks to the prices of our toilet paper, trying to get the business viable and accountable without constant oversight.

It's hard work, mostly because I'm a just-do-it kind of girl who enjoys the feeling of pulling everything together at the last minute with a smile on my face. Not for me, endless spreadsheets and temperature logs for the fridge and freezer. Only, those things are important...so I hired a kitchen manager. We've prioritized food hygiene and safety, timeliness of orders and quality control, plus I'm totally redoing the menu in January, when our corn masa order should come in and make Mexican food again a Monrovian reality.

It feels good to be back--and this time, in the shadows, letting our team do the hard stuff.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thinking it over

So, a lot has been going on in the last six week that I've not been blogging. I hit a bit of a wall in terms of self-care, and am slowly starting to take the time that I need to care for myself the way that I need to.

I suppose this is always a bit of a back-and-forth, and it's sometimes difficult to make space for yoga, meditation, art or reading when there are so many projects and people that can absorb my attention. Working non-traditionally, outside of an office routine, can also make setting a regular self-care routine difficult. "I can always practice later," I tell myself as I settle in front of my laptop in the morning, only to find that once it turns 6:00 I'd rather check on Tides or figure out what to cook for dinner.

Putting myself first can seem really selfish, but it's important--I think essential--if I'm going to do the things I want to do. So often, when I'm not in a good place, starting from a foundation of peace, equanimity and serenity, nothing else seems to work well. I find myself short-tempered and focused on people's short-comings, which isn't productive, especially in such a challenging environment. When I do take time for myself--time that seems self-indulgent and lavish, at times--I have compassion and patience, two qualities I think are necessary for good work.

I'll be practicing and would gratefully appreciate suggestions and comments about how you manage self-care in challenging, work-driven settings. How do you do it?