“Do not be afraid to try! The world needs more brave and courageous souls out there!” – Laura Bergen
Every day I have the pleasure of meeting people who are finding new and creative ways to use their unique talents to make a difference in the life of another.
Laura Bergen found a way to combine her passion for art and retail with her passion for helping improve the lives of others by creating Flourish Art And Gifts. Through her shop, Laura empowers others to flourish by curating Fair Trade goods made by artisans in her community and from around the world. She also hosts pop ups and other shopping events, where she donates a portion of the sales made at each event to charity.
As this week’s #WCW Spotlight, Laura shares why empowering others to earn a fair wage is important to her and how she manages it all, while raising two teenagers.
Me: What inspired you to create a shop completely centered around giving back?
Laura: I want to do business differently from most. I’m very fortunate to have a supportive husband and a dual income. I live modestly so I can afford to help others.
Me: How do you go about finding and partnering with all the different give back brands you partner with?
Laura: I find them on Instagram and the Fair Trade Federation’s website. It makes me so happy to see that there are SO many brands that build giving into who they are.
Me: You’re quite progressive for Minnesota; socially responsible shopping is still a relatively new concept, even in major metropolitan cities. How have the responses been to your mission?
Laura: Some people get very excited about it, they’re the ones who already know about the issues. The people that aren’t as familiar have mixed reactions. Some want to learn more and ask questions and get excited… others just look confused or disinterested, as if they just could care less.
Me: Has giving back always been a priority in your life? Or something that came about later on in life?
Laura: I have always been a giver, even when I was poor. I think it is just how God made me
Me: In addition to making a donation for every product sold, you often host pop-up shops and donate a percentage of the overall sales to a pre-selected cause. What inspires you to host pop-ups and give back on top of what you are already doing?
Laura: I LOVE hosting pop-ups because it helps other businesses grow. I know from experience from Flourish Art & Gifts, how hard it is to grow a business and get ones name out there. The whole point of Flourish is to Help Others Flourish.
Me: What has been the most surprising part of building Flourish Art and Gifits? What about the most inspiring part of this adventure?
Laura: The most surprising and inspiring part of my business has been all of the amazing people that it has brought into my life. I have made some wonderful new friends who have big hearts, big ideas, and are not afraid to try new things and change the world.
Me: Not only do you focus on brands with give back initiatives, you dedicate a lot of your time to ensuring the artists and brands you work with are use fair trade practices? Why take the extra step and risk turning away opportunities by making this a key part of your core beliefs?
Laura: It is SO important that people make a wage that will lift them out of poverty into prosperity. Some people like to say they “hate wealth without work”… well I hate “work without wealth or health,” that is why the name of my business has FLOURISH in it. I want to help others to grow and flourish, not just get by on the minimum, which is rarely enough.
Me: On top of all the work and energy you pour into Flourish Art and Gifts, you are raising two teenagers (a son and a daughter). You also actively mentor another you girl. What is it about mentoring that inspires you to take this on as well?
Laura: I love encouraging people who are in a tough spot. I grew up with a lot of dysfunction and pain, so I want to let people who are experiencing the same things [know] that they are not alone and that this is their life to make good choices and to try very hard to not believe lies that they are told or that their lot in life is set. It is a way to shine light and truth into someones darkness.
Me: How do you find the time to balance everything – running a shop, participating in pop-up fundraisers, mentoring, and raising two children?
Laura: Honestly… I don’t know. I just take breaks when needed. It helps that I love what I do. I love being a mom most and everything calms down in the summer months to focus on my kids, which is a huge blessing for all of us!
Me: Have there been any characteristics you’ve seen in children as a result of the emphasis you place on giving back?
Laura: I think that they are both generous, maybe my son a little more than my daughter. They both have kind and tender hearts and care very much about others and animals.
Me: What is one piece of advice you would want to share with someone who wants to follow in your footsteps of using their own unique talents and life experiences to give back?
Laura: Don’t give up!!!! Take a break when that urge comes… because it does. It is hard to put a dream in motion and keep it in motion. Perseverance and balance are key. Find a positive network of encouragers and ignore the negative people.
Do not be afraid to try! The world needs more brave and courageous souls out there!