Friday, September 2, 2022

Minister & Fair Trader: Meet and Learn From Amy Kay Pavlovich

Amy Kay Pavlovich
I've known Amy Kay Pavlovich, the owner of Connected of Lindsborg,KS., for quite some time. I knew she was a minister. I knew she was passionate about fair trade and I knew she successfully sells Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry. And recently I learned that she is really fun to engage with on her business Facebook LIVES! I thought if she was willing, and she was, we could all learn something from her. 





NANCY: I had to look it up. We first met in 2010 at the Chicago Gift Show at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. I believe Connected was your brand new retail store baby at the time. And now you've been at it for much more than a decade!

Connected Store Front
AMY KAY I'm glad you knew that because I switched POS systems and wouldn't have been able to see when I first started ordering from you. As you know, I had a fair trade store in Illinois (Just Good Trade) before moving to Kansas in June of 2013. I'm sure your jewelry was sold there as well as at Connected.




NANCY:  Yes, you're right. It was. So let's get to it. Let the interview begin. I already know about your shop and a bit about you. I'm thinking most people reading this blog interview do not. Can you tell me a bit about your background and how that lead to you opening a fair trade retail store?  Was there a specific event that encouraged you to get into retail?

Press in Local Magazine!
AMY KAY: Sure thing! I've been a minister since 1999 and the first 11 years served large churches where I was essentially a program staff person. I worked with a wonderful church in Columbia, MO, where over time, I led a number of Learning and Serving trips each year.  Around 2007 a college group and I were on our way home from a trip where we met some coffee farmers in Mexico. After that experience I realized it wasn't enough to "just pray for people", we had to do more. After working it all out with the full church leadership, we started a Fair Trade store within the life of the church. Since then, I've been a college chaplain and am now a solo minister. I've also always had Fair Trade stores along with my call.



NANCY:  After all these years working in fair trade is there something you feel particularly good about? An accomplishment? A life you changed? I'd love to hear a story or two.

Happy Customers
AMY KAY What a lovely question! I love traveling to meet artisans and farmers because they are why I choose to spend my time in retail. I also enjoy my interactions with my customers in my store. I've spoken to lots of groups and get to slide into conversations about supply chains and economic justice often. A few times professional women have admitted that they had never thought about who made the products they buy. I definitely saw an epiphany in their faces. I hope after our conversations their lives were changed to more mindful consumption. A tiny bit of change made by people will hopefully result in real change for producers.

NANCY: And is there some aspect of operating a fair trade store that you enjoy the most? 

Dunitz Artisans
AMY KAY: I love the products themselves, learning about the people who made or grew the goods and chatting about them with the people that come into the store.  Every day is colorful and lovely. It's a nice balance with servicing the church too. I can do creative things with my hands in the store and I mostly use my mind as I serve the church.  My vocation, my call, is to serve God's people and I'm grateful to be able to do it in different ways through both of my careers.




NANCY: I'm completely impressed with how you consistently and often use the Facebook LIVE vehicle. How did you get into that? Do you have certain things you like to discuss or share with your audience?

Faces of Amy Kay
AMY KAY: Oh gosh, Thank you, Nancy. My shop in Lindsborg is situated between creative business people who I respect so much. When the pandemic came along, they started doing Facebook LIVEs. I did not. Even though my store was closed, all my time was being consumed with figuring out how to be present with the congregation I serve and how in the world we would worship in a new way. (note: Remember Amy Kay juggles two careers.) It took a few months to figure it out over a busy season of worship in the church. (Lent/Holy Week/Easter)  By the time I got through all of that,my neighbor and friend encouraged me to try selling our fair trade jewelry through LIVE shows. I balked at first, but then realized that everything I had learned for streaming worship also applied to Facebook LIVE. It was not necessarily comfortable to do it, but I had ample practice from having streamed worship.  Over time I've gotten more comfortable with the format and have continued with the LIVEs even though we are open and no longer on lock down.

Initially my LIVES took place on Thursday evenings. During one part of the the covid experience, we had been open and needed to close again because of sickness. Instead of hosting only one "Happy Hour with Fair Trade" on Thursday nights at 8pm, I started showing things Monday through Wednesday as well. After we were able to reopen, I was ready to transition back to having only one show a week. The people who watched the most said that my 8pm LIVEs helped them get through their crazy covid-ness and asked me to continue. Turns out they were mostly single woman and new moms who reached out and I didn't have the heart to discontinue the shows.

From a Facebook LIVE
Instead of showing fair trade products on Monday through Wednesday, I shifted to sharing about something I had found meaningful during the day. It could have been something I had read or listened to on radio. Without looking back to see how long I've been doing this, I'd guess it's been well over a year I've shared what I now call "Musings". They truly are just things that I've been pondering from other people's wisdom. It takes me a few minutes to decide what to share, I pop on to the LIVE and the whole thing usually takes less than 10 minutes. Thursdays takes me an hour or so to prepare, 30-40 minutes live and a half hour to clean up and settle back down. People don't buy much during "Happy Hour" now because we are mobile again. But, I sell more overall because folks come into the store to pick up what they've seen. Two of my best customers only buy from what they've seen during LIVEs and say that they prefer it because they aren't overwhelmed while waking through the store. It's been a very interesting experience.

NANCY: Has doing Facebook LIVE helped increase your page followers? I'm blown away that you have over 3000 followers on Facebook. Is there a trick to building such a wonderful audience?

AMY KAY: No, my LIVEs aren't helpful in building an audience. (Don't you just love AK's frankness?) What's best in that area is what I haven't been doing, sharing pictures with short quippish wording and paying for the post to be shown to people in our area.

I'm about the least savvy business person you could find. My answer here is probably going to sound ridiculous. I think people follow the store because I'm pretty darned real. I've been told my candidness is refreshing. (It is.) I'm certainly not everyone's cup of tea! But those who line my realness come around. Also, I've lived in a few other places since Facebook was developed and some friends from those places continue to follow me as I've moved.

NANCY: Many of us are tech dinosaurs. I'd like to know how you actually do those LIVE chats? Are you using a phone or PC? Do you just press a video button on Facebook and start talking? Do you use a tripod? I'd sure like to know what you do. Maybe I'd give it a go.

AMY KAY: You should give it a go, Nancy! It's so EASY!!!

When I'm the most lazy, I just hold my phone. It always looks better when I set it in a little tripod I keep handy, but if my boys are home with me, I don't take the 60 seconds needed to grab the tripod.

For my Happy Hours, I use a free program that I also currently use for my streaming worship. I like to put the price of products and country of origin on the side of the screen so I don't get confused and say the wrong thing or just get unnerved. It makes everything go more smoothly to put in the hour of work to set up that system. It is called OBS Studio and it is also easy to use.  There are lots of  YouTube tutorials on the program. I watched a few and know enough to make it work each week. You'd be great with either system! (Thanks for the vote of confidence.)

NANCY: You've been selling Dunitz & Company fair trade in your store for a long time. I know you like our large teardrop earrings I've seen you wear in your Facebook LIVEs. Is there another favorite  you wear or sell in your store? You know I had to ask. 

Best Selling Beaded Dots
AMY KAY: Oh I love lots of your beautiful jewelry. Currently your beaded dots are my best seller! People who live in the middle of Kansas and those traveling through like your Frida Teardrops. You know those earrings of yours made with denim and all those fun little beads!





NANCY: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Frida Teardrop Earrings
AMY KAY:  Every time I sell one of your beautiful pieces I think of you, Nancy. I'm sorry that I'm a rotten communicator and don't tell you of my appreciation.Thank you for the gorgeous designs, colors and quality you facilitate with your artisan partners.

Lastly, I'd love for people to understand how easy it is to be a fair trade retailer. As I mentioned earlier, I am not a business person. I, quite honestly, suck at business. If I can open a store and keep it open, anyone can! If anyone reading this has a call to have a fair trade store or to incorporate fair trade into a shop of another nature, I'm a huge cheerleader for their interest. The fair trade community is a supportive, affirming, nurturing, sometimes salty, and always a fun group of people with whom to be in cahoots. Cheers! 

--end of interview--

A Pefect Pin
For all her self-deprecating, I think Amy Kay definitely has it going on. You've got to love her more after reading this interview. She clearly is doing a fantastic job wearing multiple hats at the same time. Her customers are engaged at her fair trade store, Connected and on her Facebook Page. And of course, I'm thrilled she is selling Dunitz & Company's jewelry. After reading her words of wisdom, are you ready to take on a Facebook LIVE? I think I might be. -ND