This week we have the privilege of sharing one of our favorite brands Half United with you. Carmin Black, owner and founder of Half United happens to also be one of my dearest friends. It has been such a treat to watch as her dream has grown into all that it is today.
We asked Carmin to share a bit of her heart in light of the BRAND NEW retail store opening up this weekend! If you are local to Wilmington, join us This Saturday 11/12 from 6pm-8pm for their GRAND OPENING! 1607 Queen Street
What was your vision at the start of Half United and what did it all look like in the beginning?
Our early days were so green. We knew nothing about business or management, product design or product sourcing. All we knew was: make something cool, sell it, donate funds to amazing groups that are feeding people in need. We just wanted to help. We wanted to do our part for those in need, but we didn’t know how to grow a business to make that happen so the start was rocky to say the least.
I remember going to one of my first few wholesale buyer meetings (at a small boutique in Wilmington) and the owner of the store asking me what our “wholesale prices” were, I literally had to ask her “what is a wholesale price?”
This may not mean much to you if you don’t work in this industry, but it’s the equivalent of a new hire on a construction site being asked to hammer a nail in a wall but having to ask “what’s a hammer?” Not great. Haha!
I think people saw our passion for our mission and gave us more grace than we may have otherwise been given. I CRINGE at my human management skills for the first 5-7 years of owning this business. I was hyper-focused on our goals to a dogmatic degree, but didn’t understand human psychology enough to know that you have to get to the hearts of people, individually learn what motivates them, then help them achieve those very personal goals or they grow weary, tired, and ultimately fizzle out. Giving back has been the one constant for us. When that’s been shaky the business itself crumbles, when that’s strong we soar. I truly believe to whom much is given much is required.
Why did you choose hunger as your mission?
When I was a little girl my Dad was a minister. At one very pivotal point in my life we lived in Waipahu, Hawaii. Waipahu has widespread poverty. When we first moved to this community we weren’t very welcomed. We were the new Haole’s in town and I think the neighbors felt skeptical of us. To make friends my dad would take me door to door to meet each person and invite them to church. Some people of course rejected us, but many people welcomed us into their homes, shared their lives with us, and would tell my father their struggles. Once we knew what was going on we would do our best to help them. I remember often taking groceries to those in need, inviting families over for dinner, even letting people live with us until they got back on their feet. These years of my life shaped me and taught me that love binds us. I never forgot those memories and now wanting to help others as an adult fuels me and is a main driving force in my life.
How has Half United been able to help others in need over the years?
We've been busy!!
We have built a 400 tree fruit tree farm
Funded a veritable farm in Fiji
Purchased 150 beehives to pollinate crops in Fiji
Funded 3 fish farms in Fiji and Cambodia
Given school meals to children in Fiji and Cambodia for seven years!
We have funded a bread making business in Haiti
Have funded school snack programs in Haiti for 5 schools
We have helped to employee over 100 workers in Haiti to make beaded items and handbags
Funded teacher salaries in Fiji
Helped build school buildings in Fiji
We’ve funded two NC- based school gardens
We’ve funded bookbag buddy programs in NC
We’ve worked with Hispanic families to meet their daily nutrition needs in NC
We are now partnering with a local NGO and will be supporting them in running 15+ community gardens, one urban farm, a community kitchen at the MLK center and a farm to school program at Williston elementary.
This is absolutely incredible and truly moves us to tears!
How did the new Wilmington retail store come to be?
I think we’re ready for a place to meet our customers face to face. We are a wholesale brand so we typically only engage with our buyers. This isn’t a great way to hear customer feedback, try new pricing tiers, try new products out, etc. We want to create a community of men and women who live to give back and even give our community members the chance to volunteer with us. This retail space will allow us to do just that!
What can we expect at the Grand Opening this Saturday 11/12/22?
It going to be so fun!!!
Come experience the brand new space, live music, food, drinks, fun, a chance to enter a give away of $500 to use to shop with us, and great conversations about giving back and opportunities to sign up to volunteer with us!
Thank you so much for sharing this with us! We are truly so excited for this next chapter of Half United and having the space and opportunity to partner with you in even more ways in the future!