Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future
As a new parent, I had some pretty strong ideas about how I wanted to raise my kids, and reading certain kind of books was a big part of that. I wasn't a children's book expert, but I knew what I liked, and I experienced how deeply certain books touched the heart, soul, and minds of the children in my life.
How Chinaberry came to be is a long story, but here are the salient points. A friend and fellow mother convinced me to become a mail order 'bookstore,' making our favorite books available to anyone, so, with no business plan, I borrowed $2,000 from my Mom to get things off the ground. The first catalog was the world's funkiest-looking, hand-lettered-on-newsprint catalog ever. I filled orders at the kitchen table (which I still use as my desk), 2-year-old Elizabeth sneaked an occasional fork or spoon into orders, and I used grocery money to buy inventory. I sent out personal notes with every order and am still in touch with some of those customer/friends. Two years after beginning this Chinaberry adventure, we weren't even close to making ends meet, but boy, was it fun!
That was 30 years ago. And somehow, Chinaberry is still here. I marvel at our good fortune in being in the Right Place at the Right Time and beating the small-business-startup odds; at having a company that is renowned in the publishing industry and in the retail world for its integrity and discernment; at being able to hang in there despite the challenges facing all independent booksellers; at having expanded our selection to include a myriad of items that enrich families' lives; and at having an astonishingly wonderful group of employees. I am humbled by the fact that there are now 2nd generation 'Chinaberry kids' in the fold. The kids of kids who grew up on Chinaberry. The grandkids of the parents who were my customers when toddler Elizabeth was sticking spoons and forks in their orders.
Thirty years ago, I'd never have dreamed I'd be penning a 'Dear Friends Letter,' today, introducing a collection specifically designed for these new 'Chinaberry kids' and their families, a selection offering the 2012 version of what Chinaberry has become respected for over the years. The Jake&Ella Collection, which you'll find at Chinaberry.com, is chock full of very cool stuff. From books to toys made with a social conscious to items containing non-toxic and organic ingredients to gift sets for new families, new babies, and new Mamas, we've stuck to our commitment to offer the cream of the crop.
I invite you to check out the Jake&Ella Collection and tell your friends that the Chinaberry tradition of superb products and extraordinary customer service continues in a way that speaks to the new generation of Chinaberry parents.