Okay, okay -- don't give us that look. We know that Monday isn't classically known as anyone's favorite. The collective groans and sighs that arise as we all get out of bed in the morning can be heard across the nation.
We we don't buy it! We love this day over here at African American Expressions. Each Monday, we start the morning with a company wide meeting to catch up. It gives us the time to see how each other's weekends were, if anything new or exciting happened to anyone, or to talk trash about our respective sports teams. Having these small moments before the whirlwind begins allows all of us to feel more connected to each other. We laugh. We cry. We become a family for those few moments out of the day. There is nothing we find more motivating than that.
Often times during these Monday sessions, we get the chance to hear Greg, the founder of our company, tell a story or anecdote that gives us a special piece of the backstory of our company. We wanted to share one of our most important stories with you -- because YOU are all a big part of our AAE family.
"It is this belief in a larger power than myself, and other than myself, which allows me to venture into the unknwon -- and even the unknowable." - Maya Angelou
There are very few among us who can say that they have not been faced with that kind of dilemma. The one in which you are standing on the edge of the metaphorical precipice, with the option to be safe... or to dangle your toes over the side, breathe deep, and jump.
A leap of faith, a need for a product, and a desire to make a positive impact on his community is what prompted Gregory Perkins to start African American Expressions 25 years ago. At that time, African Americans made up 11% of the population of the United States. That was a little over 25 million people. Yet ask any of those 25 million men, women, and children where they could find a birthday card that represented black culture, or where they could find a Christmas card that showed black families on the front, and they would be hard pressed to give you an answer.
To say that the idea for AAE came from the divine would be an accurate statement. While on vacation visiting his brother in California the idea struck Greg like a bolt of lightning. If he was having a problem finding cards and gifts, so was everyone else. With that, God led him to the path of what needed to be done. Our God was honest with Greg -- he told him up front that this endeavor would require a HUGE leap of faith, of a kind he had never had to take before. Even then, Greg knew that there was no better investor a start-up business could have then our almighty God. He closed his eyes and leapt willingly.
With that leap, the message that Greg was sending was simple, but poignant.
"We are tired of being ignored."
Starting a company from the ground up is no easy task. Starting a company from the ground up, and becoming profitable in the first year only has a 7% success rate.
We began with only three Christmas card designs in 1991, and over the course of 25 years, our hard work and dedication has morphed AAE into a multi-million dollar company boasting over 600 products. Our most recent catalog boasts beautiful Black cards for all occasions -- whether it's birthday, sympathy, get well or even minister appreciation. We have curated and cultivated a wide selection of art, whether you are looking for something that boasts the beauty of your faith, or a piece that represents African heritage. We have bible organizers, calendars that represent our rich history, that honor our first black president, or that remind you to live your life everyday walking by faith. Whether it's decor for your home, or just a small card to let someone know you care AAE has tried our hardest to make sure we have it all for you.
We went from three cards and a dream, to 25 years and a legacy being created, for our family, and our culture.
It could have ended there. Many companies would have continued to offer their products at reasonable prices, and it would leave them content to watch as their profits grew. That was nowhere near enough for us though. We wanted our community to be able to benefit from every dollar that we made. We wanted each and everyone of you reading this to be able to share in our success -- because the reality is that there is no US without YOU. With that said, the AAE Fundraiser Program was born. It gives each and every one of you reading this to share in our company's success, by becoming a part of it.
If you haven't heard of our fundraising program check out the info here http://www.black-gifts.com/fundraising and don't worry, video will be coming soon.
Before we end this blog -- we want to leave you with an important question: What has you motivated this week? Do you have a tough decision that you have been questioning? We want to hear what motivates you -- what helps you take that leap?
African American Expressions -- it all started with a leap of faith.
So... are you ready to jump?