Hello! Thank you for taking time to check out my campaign!
In August 2019, thanks to the help of many contributors, I was able to purchase a 2003 Ford Shuttle Bus with a good turbo diesel engine, windows for sunlight and airflow, a/c and heat already installed, and all at a better price than continuing to throw money at the step van that I originally planned to build my mobile boutique into.
I'm SO happy to introduce you to the BINDU bus!
MY CRAFT BUSINESS
I've been incredibly fortunate to find a business that has helped me earn some independence and freedom in my life. After dealing with years of limitations imposed by my body (and some serious frustration and depression as a result), and failing to sustain any gainful employment for over a decade, I stopped trying to do the impossible, and started working for myself.
I love that this business connects me to many people. My visitors often tell me that my products, or an interaction with me, has made a positive impact for them. This gives me a sense of purpose and ability to serve. I love connecting people with empowering products and adding a little joy to their days!
In 2015, with a worsening spinal condition and a bad hip injury from work, I was stuck at home and unable to afford my rent or car payment. I started making what I could with the supplies I had collected over years of having a heart drawn to creative work. I asked friends if they would buy my handmade bracelets for holiday presents, and was able to pay my overdue debts!
I started selling my stuff on Etsy, and eventually signed up for some craft fairs. Seeing how easily my stuff sold at these events where people can touch and feel my product, meet the maker, and walk away with a meaningful gift for themselves or others, I worked to pursue this career full-time.
While this business allows me the flexibility to stay home and honor the needs of my body if it's not allowing me to function well or get dressed on any day, it also demands some heavy labor when I am able. The adrenaline of a big event and an opportunity to actually make some money for myself helps, but it usually takes me 3-5 days of self-care and being homebound / unable to function or communicate at all to recover.
In 2017, when I saw another local business owner pull up to an event in a mobile shop on wheels, I knew I found a solution to my struggle. I decided that day to build my store into a "mobile boutique".
Being disabled and barely able to earn enough money to take care of my health and eat every day, this was a big challenge. I eventually found a cheap step van about an hour from home, and borrowed money from my very generous and sweet partner (thanks, babe!!!). I drove halfway home before the engine died.
After a long string of towing it to different mechanics, having promises made and then broken, and losing a bunch of money in the process, I reached out to y'all for help getting the engine replaced. This was originally going to cost $9860. I found another mechanic who claimed they could do the job for $6500, so I towed it there in June. After a few weeks I learned that they could not do the job as promised, and that the engine they said they could replace had been discontinued. After months of going back and forth trying to get the shop to honor their word, or come down on price to rebuild the engine instead, I finally decided that this vehicle may not be worth any further investment.
I got so much support toward my goal of building a mobile boutique and liberating myself to be able to work more often and for longer periods of the year, and I want to honor that goal. I also want to put that money toward something worthwhile, and I don't feel the step van is a good investment.
In August, 2019, I found a shuttle bus for sale. This bus had everything I needed, which was going to take another few thousand dollars to get going in the step van. Windows for light and ventilation, a safe entrance with handles on both sides, a great diesel engine that is ready to take me South in the Winters, and a great price! For less than it was going to cost to get the engine rebuilt in the step van, I got a vehicle ready-to-go without much more work.
With offline donations, I've received a total of $4773. I paid $3400 for the bus, $50 to have a mechanic look it over, and $364.50 to register title and plates. That leaves $958.50 in donations left to spend.
There's still some things I need to do in order to prepare to hit the road.
Power Supply - as originally promised, if I raised excess funds, I want to get solar energy installed in the bus. This will power lights, heat when the engine isn't running, and small appliances when I'm on the road. I found an electric inverter and large foldable solar panels that will do the job for under $800.
Cruise Control - I was told this worked when I bought it, but alas, it does not. Because of the issues with my hip and sciatic nerve, I cannot reliably drive without cruise control. Currently sourcing options for this service.
There's more things I'd like to do, too:
Vinyl Wrap - the step van was old and rusted and didn't have much value, so spray painting it worked. And it was amazing. I'd like to have an equally impressive exterior on the bus, but don't just want to let an artist go wild with spray paint. I have a friend who does vinyl wrapping professionally, willing to do the job for a reasonable price. I'm thinking Chameleon Teal/Purple! :D
Add an Awning - Having some shade and protection from rain can make a huge difference in being able to display some products outside the bus. Without products outside, people have no reason to want to come inside. Plus, it will create a more pulled-together look for the exterior of the bus, which doesn't scream "I'm a store, come inside and shop!" quite yet.
Getting this mobile boutique running has already make a huge difference for me in terms of my ability to earn income, and my quality of life. While I didn't get it early enough in the season to make a huge difference this year, I now have a few months to work out the details and get the bus ready for next year's markets.
I'll be sending a message out to donors asking them to vote on how I spend the remaining funds, and of course, offering a refund to anyone who specifically wanted to donate toward the step van, but doesn't support the use of funds toward this different-than-planned vehicle. I want to be sure I honor the intentions of every donor!
ASKING FOR HELP
This has been an uncomfortable and shame-filled process for me (darn ego!). I'm hoping that by sharing my story, and by asking for help, that I encourage and give permission to not only to ask for help, but to pursue creative endeavors and solutions to challenges they're facing. While I'm not asking for money for health bills or an emergency, my struggle is a direct result of a sudden loss of health, and over a decade of debt and struggle that has come of it.
Rather than asking for help paying my medical expenses, which would be a short term solution to an ongoing problem, I'm trying to be creative in making a path to sustainable income, so I can pay them myself. Any support given is extremely appreciated.
I love the concept of offering rewards / incentives for contributions, so here you go!
I've been crazy busy this year trying to sell my crafts and get this mobile shop going, but I'm finally working on fulfillment! If you donated $50 or more, expect to hear from me soon to receive your thank you gift!
Donate $50 or more and get a handwritten thank you card, along with a black lava bead bracelet made to fit, which (if you desire) you can put a drop of essential oil on to smell for 5-15 hours! You'll also have my unending love and gratitude <3
Donate $100 or more and get a handwritten thank you card, along with a black lava bead bracelet made to fit, and your choice of 5ML Aroma Roller (options at 3Pyogi.etsy.com). You'll also have my unending love and gratitude <3
Donate $150 or more and get a handwritten thank you card, along with a black lava bead bracelet made to fit, and your choice of 10ML Aroma Roller (options at 3Pyogi.etsy.com). You'll also have my unending love and gratitude <3
Donate $300 or more and get a handwritten thank you card, along with a black lava bead bracelet made to fit, and your choice of THREE 10ML Aroma Rollers (options at 3Pyogi.etsy.com). You'll also have my unending love and gratitude <3
Donate $500 or more and get a handwritten thank you card, along with a black lava bead bracelet made to fit, your choice of THREE 10ML Aroma Rollers (options at 3Pyogi.etsy.com). You'll also have your name or business name or logo printed onto the exterior of the truck as a Sponsor/Contributor!! You'll also have my unending love and gratitude <3
- Miriam Johns-Bicknase
- Jennifer French
- Laura and Graydon B
- Julie Gothrup
- Terrie Howe