Is It Really Possible to Have It All?
Chiswick's Nadine Rose has come up with perfect business model
Busy mother-of-three Nadine Rose has come up with the perfect business model – it fits around school terms, gives her immense job satisfaction, and benefits others.
From her home in Chiswick, Nadine buys and sells ethically produced accessories and textiles: from purses and clutch bags designed and made in Finland, to shawls hand-embroidered and beaded by women in Palestinian refugee camps, to textiles handwoven by a women’s charity in Ethiopia. ‘It’s important to me to know that I’m paying a fair price for the goods that I sell,’ Nadine explains.
The profits from the business support a family of four girls in Ethiopia. When Nadine’s first daughter was a baby, they sponsored a four year old girl, Mekdes, in Ethiopia. ‘We knew that Mekdes’s father had died, but within a few months, her mother also died, leaving Mekdes and her three older sisters orphaned. I felt very strongly that I had to do something to support them. Did they have a house? Enough money to live on? I was seized with a sense of responsibility for them - how could I not?’
Having started by exchanging letters with Mekdes, Nadine decided to go and visit the girls. She waited until her second daughter, Beatrice, was seven months old, and then boarded a plane to Lalibela in the Ethiopian highlands. ‘I was very nervous, and leaving my two small girls was horrible. But the minute I met the girls, I became immersed in their world.’ Guided by her interpreter, she made her way to the family house, where all four girls were living in one room and renting out the rest. ‘They had very few belongings, and there were chickens scratching round on the floor,’ Nadine says. ‘They were obviously poor, but at least they had a roof. They were very shy but incredibly hospitable.’
On her return, Nadine decided to help the girls directly. Taking a gamble on the Ethiopian postal system, she sent parcels of clothes, books and pens - ‘they all got there.’ Three years ago Nadine decided to start up her own business, with all the proceeds going to help Mekdes and her family. A new latrine building is now finished; the younger two girls have a private English tutor as all the lessons at their school are in English, and the eldest two are studying at university. 'My dream is to look after each girl individually, and make sure that their education is the best that they can get,’ Nadine says. ‘I feel very strongly that it doesn’t matter what you do, or how small the scale, as long as you do something.’
This is philanthropy at its most direct and hands-on, but Nadine herself also benefits: ‘There’s an informality to the business which I really like,’ she explains. ‘I’ve ended up becoming good friends with some of my customers – they like the idea that their money is going directly to the family.’
Nadine Rose will have a stall at the Green Days Festival on Acton Green on Sunday 14th June.
June 6, 2009