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June 2012

June 27, 2012

Sansori: Locally Based and Globally Connected

by Hannah Jang, Chief Blogger

"If you listen deeply, you can hear the mountain sound," says Kristin Kim, founder of Sansori. “It is often said that the best way to learn is by doing. But it is only through listening that we gain insight into the active and creative process.” Sansori has created a unique platform that integrates both and taps into the joy of creating a better world and the thrill of building your financial wealth through the Sansori Club and Jam Sessions.

There is no scripted way to become an entrepreneur, but it certainly helps to start young. The Sansori Club specifically caters to youth aged 12-17 who are interested in exploring how they can make a positive contribution to their community and receive financial return for their efforts. Sansori Club’s young social entrepreneurs will create a small-scale venture that solves a local need, respects the environment, and is capable of supporting itself financially.

“The whole idea is to experiment and have fun working with like-minded people. You learn that successes and failures are both learning opportunities,” says Kim. “The Club is an environment for young people to develop a positive peer network around the world.” The Clubs are currently located in NYC, Westchester, Amherst, and Chicago. Brazil expansion is planned for fall 2012, and India and Turkey in 2013.  

While the Sansori Clubs are for those wanting to explore social entrepreneurship, the Jam Session is for those who are committed to becoming a social entrepreneur. The 12-month program is an intense combination of experiential, practical and theoretical learning in which “each individual journey illuminates helpful paths, common pitfalls, and creative strategies.” Meet the inspiring Jam Participants here. Sansori offers a limited number of fellowships for the Jam Sessions (See # 24).

The Sansori philosophy is simple yet profound: Stay connected to your inner wisdom and experience the interconnectedness between humans and the landscapes that shape them. Specifically working for a social enterprise means “you leverage the power of capital to achieve positive social transformation,” says Kim. “And through Sansori, you bridge the gap between doing good and making money and the gap between the inner life and outer activities.”

is not affiliated with any political, religious, or ethnic organization, and the literal translation of Sansori in Korean is “mountain sound”.


About Kristin Kim

Kristin is the Founder of Sansori LLC. She has professional expertise in online education, women's Sansoriwomen’s programs, fundraising, and law, and has worked with Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale Universities, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. When not working on Sansori, Kristin likes to go "recreational" mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies, watch sheep in New Zealand, join meditation retreats at a Korean Zen monastery, and throw dinner parties for friends. Kristin received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College, cum laude, in Chinese Philosophy. She currently serves on the Board of RAIT Investment Trust (NYSE: RAS). She has also served on the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College and many other non-profit boards.


June 19, 2012

10 Neat Tips and Tricks to Re-fashion Our (Life) Styles!

by Kaity Tsui, Guest Blogger

With the change of seasons comes the change in wardrobe! And yet, what comes to your mind when you think of fashion?

To me, fashion conjures up images of self-improvement, self-awareness, self-empowerment, self-enlightenment, and self-expression. Renowned writer Amy Tan said it best in her article for ClosetsHarper’s Bazaar, “Perhaps nothing is more telling than the items of clothing a woman chooses to buy, keep, or toss (not to mention how she stores them) … [her closet is] an amusing window into [one’s] psyche. … ” Tan also posed the following existential question that each one of us confronts every time we get dressed: “I am what I wear, I wear what I am. Who am I today?” Simply put, fashion is something we deal with everyday.

So, as we go through the motions and figure out what works for our bodies as well as our closets, it’s amazing how we – by choice or not – are part of the fashion world – a living, breathing, constantly evolving system. And as we become more conscious of our shopping habits, it’s likely to think that buying anything made of organic and fair trade materials would be enough, but what about those who simply don’t have the financial means to support these desires?                                                                                    Image courtesy of Street Fashion Style, a San Francisco                                                 and New York Street Style blog.

Eco-fashion, also known as slow fashion, doesn't just mean supporting environmentally friendly brands that use sustainable fabrics and socially responsible methods of production, or limiting ourselves to thrift stores and hand-me-downs, but also reducing our overall consumption by being more mindful and recognizing when we have to make do with what we have and embracing our creative sides in putting outfits together.

ImagesImage courtesy of Skunkfunk, a website that strongly believes that "fashion and environmental and social concerns should go hand-in-hand." 

We are, after all, doing the best we can to live our lives as conscientiously as possible. As one of many fashionistas in New York City and beyond, I stumbled on several helpful resources that have helped me become a more resourceful, independent, and creative person:

  • Website of the Day: Polyvore, known as “the best place to discover or start fashion trends.” Browse and shop looks created by a global community of independent trendsetters and stylists.
  • Item of the Day: Little Black Dress Hanging Jewelry Organizer by Umbra at The Container Store.



Now, when creating your own style, blogger Greg Thompson said it best with his “Fashion vs. Style” commentary, “Your clothes provide a visual aspect to your own consciousness. … Our wardrobe is our visual vocabulary, and style is our distinctive pattern of speech – our individual poetry.” He goes on to explain that one aspect of style is personal identity: “You can’t have style until you have articulated a “self.” And style requires security – feeling at home in your body, physically and mentally. Of course, like all knowledge, self-knowledge must be updated as you grow and evolve; style takes ongoing self-assessment. We’re all works in progress.”

Whether you knew how to dress yourself when you were 10, 20, or 30, there’s nothing like that happy - at times relieved - feeling you get when you find or put together the perfect outfit. After all, the never ending decision-making process is all about refining and fine tuning, so we might as well have some fun with it! 


About Kaity Tsui

Kaity Tsui is best known as I LOVE NY’s first ever Greenest New Yorker. Honored on the 40th Pictureanniversary of Earth Day, she garnered this title through her various volunteer and work experiences at places such as her alma mater New York University, the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Restoration Project on the MillionTreesNYC initiative.

Also a burgeoning fashionista, who is based in one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world, Kaity is currently taking her first course at the Fashion Institute of Design (FIT) to further explore her interests in fashion styling and marrying them with her passion for sustainability. Heavily influenced by her love of running, exotic travel, American and Chinese films and television shows, fashion and lifestyle magazines, and anybody who is willing to be her “Barbie doll", these sources of discovery continue to infuse her with fresh perspectives and inspiration.

You can find her on LinkedIn and reach her at [email protected]!

June 08, 2012

The Lotus Odyssey and WORK+SHELTER

LO_logoby Jade Anna Hughes, Guest Blogger

Some people have the ability to turn dreams into reality, and once this reality has been attained, build upon these dreams to further their growth and development. When NYWSE member Theresa VanderMeer set foot in India in 2007 her main goal was to do research on how economic empowerment impacts woman (a study sponsored by the University of Michigan). During this visit several ideas began to blossom, and with subsequent visits and planning, both The Lotus Odyssey and WORK+SHELTER were formed. The Lotus Odyssey is an eco/people friendly social enterprise (i.e. business) that exports products from various non-profits, women-owned business and fair-trade certified organizations (including WORK+SHELTER), with the ultimate goal of using the revenue collected to fund WORK+SHELTER. The Lotus Odyssey aims to provide women across the world with beautiful and unique fair-trade items that are easily accessible. 

WS_logoThe idea of WORK+SHELTER stems from the initial plans for The Lotus Odyssey. If one can provide beautiful, unique and fair-trade products that women all over the world will use and wear, then why not create a place for women in India to live and work, provide them with a way to be financially independent from their husbands and/or families, and give them the opportunity to learn a trade that can be used anywhere? WORK+SHELTER gives women the chance to come in to work every day, stay at the shelter if they need to, and work with other women in similar situations to their own. By providing these women with financial independence, as well as a trade or skill, Theresa and her team are helping promote empowerment for Indian women of all backgrounds and ages. The initial location for WORK+SHELTER was set-up in Delhi last year, and there are plans in the works to expand within India in the future, as well as the possibility to move into other countries at a later date, providing there is enough funding to do so. The main point of WORK+SHELTER is that it is completely scalable, and the team can also work together with NGO or other organizations that are already set up in the region concerned.


Theresa’s main goal for this year is to ensure that the current WORK+SHELTER set-up becomes sustainable and can therefore continue to grow. The initial set-up was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign, as well as a benefit held in Michigan. Now it is important for people to buy content created by the women in the shelter in order to sustain the monthly overhead, and therefore continue to keep the women employed and the shelter profitable.

While WORK+SHELTER ultimately relies on the wealthy buying from the poor, it is not a charity, but a social and economic venture that will ultimately run itself once the initial set-up proves itself successful. The setting up process was not completely smooth-sailing from the get-go, but Theresa never gave up, saw the pitfalls and issues as challenges and updated her plans whenever she hit a wall. Now that the first WORK+SHELTER is up and running, Theresa’s mind is racing with many more ideas on not only how to make sure the shelter is profitable, but also on how to expand, with multiple locations as well as multiple skills. At the moment the women are creating beautiful goods with their hands, but there are many other niches that need to be explored, including technology.

Content from The Lotus Odyssey is available to buy online HERE, and the website is maintained by Theresa and her team. There will also be a large trade show at the Javits Center in August where the team hopes to move to a new level with the products they are currently selling. WORK+SHELTER information and products are also available online HERE.


Jade Anna Hughes is a writer living in New York City. Her blog contains articles on music, feminism, empowerment, literature and information on current events in the world today (basically a mix of everything that captures her attention). You can follow it HERE. Jade aims to join Theresa in India later this year to work in the SHELTER, and hopefully help set up a second location.  


Pictured: The author Jade Anna Hughes (right) and The Lotus Odyssey/WORK+SHELTER founder Theresa VanderMeer (left) at the 2012 Green Festival.