What exactly is MudLOVE?
To better understand what we do, take a closer look at our name: we start with Mud, and end with LOVE.
Starting with mud sounds kind of messy, but “mud” is just another name for our clay. From bracelets, to necklaces, to mugs, we use a locally-sourced, stoneware clay to craft every product by hand. Our dedicated team of artisans and craftsmen (and craftswomen!) work hard to be a lean, mean, production machine.
We’re made up of over 50 people now, but MudLOVE started with just myself, and not much else. I had a dusty garage, an old stamp set, a box of clay, and perhaps most importantly, a vision of giving back a portion of all proceeds to help people obtain clean drinking water.
At MudLOVE, we “end with love” by providing the hope of clean water to those who need it most. We’re not exactly experts in the areas of clean water, hygiene, and sanitation, but some of our best friends happen to be just that! From the very beginning, we’ve partnered with an amazing nonprofit called Water for Good. Thanks to this relationship, the purchase of each of our products provides 1 week of safe, clean water to someone in the Central African Republic. Since forming our partnership in 2009, hundreds of thousands of lives have been impacted and transformed for good.
What is your mission?
MudLOVE’s mission statement reads: “Our collective purpose is to disrupt patterns of brokenness through a thoughtful and creative pursuit of love.” We believe business should be used a tool for positive change. We may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but we want to at least be disrupters of the brokenness we witness every day. We strive to do that thoughtfully and creatively, while staying focused on loving others.
What inspired you to start MudLOVE?
When I first started my own business, before it was even called MudLOVE, I was really just looking to avoid the “9-5” job. I also liked the idea of being my own boss. Once I realized this business should be about more than just my own personal gain, I had a brand new purpose. I started MudLOVE to use my experience with ceramics in hopes of changing the world in some small way. I had no idea what would come of it.
How did you come up with the name of your company?
After feeling that God was calling me to create a business about something bigger than myself, I knew the name had to reflect that calling. I wanted the name to be simple, and to reflect what the business was really about. Mud is another word for clay, and love is, well, LOVE!
How do you help others through your purchases?
When a purchase is made at MudLOVE, it launches a series of impactful events. Take our Classic strength. bands for example. First, they are made by hand, which provides meaningful jobs in our community.
Next, the person making the purchase might give the band away to someone that needs a reminder; a tangible form of encouragement to have strength throughout their day. These transactions bring out some of the most inspiring stories of people being motivated to carry on, and keep believing.
Lastly, a portion of the proceeds provides the hope of clean water to someone in living in extreme poverty. Through every step of the way, our goal is to have a positive impact on our world.
Is it true that a member on “The Bachelor” was wearing one of your bracelets? Can you tell us about that?
Yes, it’s true! Ben Higgins wore a hope. band during his entire season as “The Bachelor”. He is actually from our shared hometown of Warsaw. In September 2015, we knew Ben had an episode filming in town, and so we told him he was welcome to visit the shop and pick out a word that would encourage him along his journey.
Fast forward to January 2016 when the show premiered, and to our surprise, Ben was wearing the bracelet! After the first episode aired, we got in touch with him. Ben’s a really great guy with a really big heart. He had previously been supporting communities in rural Honduras through another fantastic nonprofit, The Humanity & Hope United Foundation. Along with Riley Fuller, the founder of H&H, we all decided to try and use this new platform to make a difference.
By selling hope. bands like the one Ben had chosen to wear, we ended up raising over $60,000 for H&H! The campaign has provided numerous jobs and opportunities in the villages of Remolino and La Corosa, while keeping the clean water flowing in the C.A.R. We never could have expected all of the support that poured in, but it was incredible to see so many people rally around these important causes!
What is the hardest part about running MudLOVE?
As a small business owner, the challenge is always balance. There’s the balance of focusing on the big picture and overall vision, while making sure to give the proper attention to individual team members and day-to-day happenings. There’s also the balance of finances; making sure to invest back in the company, while not overspending on things like materials, or tacos…
There are processes and procedures to help maintain balance, but even taking the time to develop those is a challenge, because it doesn’t always feel like a priority. Balance is everything. It’s definitely difficult, and I’m still figuring it out!
How do you spread the word about your company?
The best way for us to spread the word is to have more people interact with our products in-person. We do all the important staples of marketing: social media, newsletters, mailers, etc., but at the end of the day, there’s something special that happens when someone gets a mug in their hand, or a band on their wrist.
The nice thing about our products is that they really do make great gifts. We’ve been very fortunate to have awesome customers and fans that help spread the word for us. More recently, we’re investing money to help grow the business, but we’ll always find that our customers really do a lot of the work for us. (Thanks guys!)
Do you have any future plans for MudLOVE?
Yes, of course! Plans can always change, but we’re hoping to use our creative passion to try out innovative product ideas and find new ways to give back.
Our Fundraiser Marketplace has been a fun and creative endeavor for us. We’ve partnered with some really inspiring people to help them raise money for a variety of fantastic causes, from adoptions to medical expenses. We’re able to collaborate and create unique custom products for each campaign, adding to our overall product offering. Clay can be so transformative, so the possibilities are endless!
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
My advice to young entrepreneurs is to dig deep and try to really establish the vision you have for your company. At the beginning, not having a clear picture of what MudLOVE was, made for some really tough challenges that almost sank the ship. Difficulties will always arise, and you can’t always avoid them. But if you have a strong vision for your company, you’ll be able to navigate those obstacles with more confidence and direction.