I rushed early to the school the next morning, so I could see the rocks before our group had to leave the town. I was blown away with the quality of the kids’ first try; they must havespent much of the previous day working on them. I grabbed a dozen of the rocks to bring home to Canada, and took photos of the rest. Some of my friends bought rocks from the kids, giving them, and us, some proof that people would actually pay for them. Doubt continued to chase me.
Just before I left, one of the women, Mayra, approached me. It took a few tries for me to understand what she was saying, but I realized she was asking if she could have some of the rocks. I replied that we had brought the rocks and paint for everyone to share. I clarified that she could paint and sell the rocks, and keep all the money. Then I told her about a second bag of rocks, that we had just left in the parking lot in our haste, and that she could get some there. A few minutes later I spotted her husband, running from the parking lot with the 50 pound bag of rocks on his shoulder, as if he didn’t want anyone to see him. It reminded me of a cute Ikea commercial. I wondered whether they would share the rocks with everyone. I decided it didn’t matter. They were as poor and deserving as anyone. Maybe with a few bucks, they could one day move themselves and their two young kids out of his parents’ home…..
It was time to work with Ward Johnson of SaveOurMonarchs Foundation to develop a plan to sell the rocks. He had seen my vision on my Facebook page, and jumped in with an offer to sell the rocks on his site. Since that time, I have fondly called him our Fairy Godfather. We quickly realized we would need someone on the ground to purchase art supplies for the school, communicate, ship the rocks, receive and pay out the money for them, and record the kids’ stories. We would have liked to find a volunteer from the community, but it turned out just as well that no one stepped forward. We hired Estela Romero, whom many people know as the monarch reporter for Journey North. I had just spent a week with her, and was very impressed with her professionalism, command of English, and passion for monarchs. We would have her set up and monitor the progress and if the project took of, we would ask her to take it to other schools, and more communities.
Ward is a retired business person, with a wealth of experience, information, and contacts. We exchanged emails and phone calls furiously. Many things were discussed; some things just happened. There were so many details: pricing, volume pricing, shipping costs, promotion, logistics, communication, record keeping. Somewhere along the line, my proposed name, MexiKids Rock!, got switched to MexiRocks. I raised an eyebrow, but soon realized his name was better than mine. How wonderful to learn from experienced business people. We bounced back and forth on many of the details, consoling ourselves that we could change the plan at any time, and that this first year would be filled with hitches and learning opportunities.
I sent the test batch to SaveOurMonarchs, where Ward’s son Christian took photos and designed a perfect web page for MexiRocks. They sold quickly at the price we asked, so we ordered a hundred from the kids. Estela went to Macheros to pick up the rocks. The kids helped her pack each one in the coloured tissue paper she chose to provide. She got biographies, and send fabulous photos of the rocks. I couldn’t believe the difference in quality in such a short period of time!! Surmounting banking and delivery issues, the rocks finally arrived, and the big day came to advertise them. Ward put out an email to his list. I got the word out on Facebook, especially the group The Beautiful Monarch, whose founder Holli Webb Hearn graciously made an exception to the ‘do not sell anything’ rule for me. We sold out in less than 24 hours, with more orders coming in daily. We all breathed a sigh of relief, which was soon replaced with rushes of joy. It really looked like the project was going to work.