Yesterday, I wrote a bit about social constructs and the groups to which we belong (whether passively or actively).

I had thought I was going to tie the idea of choosing to participate in values- and belief-based groups with what we’re doing to create community at Junket — but the post got long, and I decided it would make more sense to split the idea train into a couple of posts, instead (which brings us to today’s post).

Several years ago, I set out on a solo journey (well, actually +1, thanks to a little peanut who would one day become the Junior Shopkeeper).  I had scraped together enough salable treasure — and enough tactical success — to believe that I could make ends meet without belonging to an employee group (i.e. having a day job) that had brought a steady paycheck, but had also come with its own set of constraints: my time was not my own, the mission had some flaws (IMO), and all I really wanted to do was put on a t-shirt and jeans every morning. Subsequent to my departure from this particular tribe, I had begun spending long hours in my basement, listing and selling used clothing, mostly, on eBay.

This was an improvement — but it came with its own sets of challenges: isolation. Lack of structure. No real sense of purpose, besides making ends meet…

It was my effort to solve these shortcomings that led to Junket’s mission. I could sell clothes — or I could help others. How would my clothes help others? It could be a viable alternative to new purchases, and I knew this to be an environmental benefit. Did it seem a little grandiose when all I was doing was selling clothes on eBay? Yes, it did — but did it have room for growth? It had that, too.

And what about the other stuff I’d found and brought home, imperfectly beautiful handmade items, gorgeous old things, damaged by the years? Surely there were others who would agree that this stuff didn’t need to go into the landfill. I’d figure it out. Even sitting by myself, with my computer, on a cold basement floor, I knew I wasn’t alone.

In some ways, it was a risky move to boldly include broken things in my product assortment when I first opened Junket in 2008. People might turn up their noses (and indeed, some continue to do so). But I believed that there were others like me, too — others who would value and appreciate the hours of labor that had gone into a hand-tatted pillowcase, despite the small fraying hole — its culprit likely the point from an oversized feather that had long since worked its way through someone’s down pillow.

It was this belief – that I was not alone, and that by sharing my perspective in this tangible way, I would find my people – that drove Junket’s success. And as I sought evidence for this belief, I confirmed that I was not alone. Others valued these treasures, and took delight in the skill and design and beauty of our talented predecessors…

And so, the beginnings of Junket’s tribe was born.

As we’ve matured, the story we share has become more nuanced and defined, and our tribe has expanded.

We’re not just a group of people with an appreciation for imperfect beauty: the beauty aficionados have been joined by creatives who seek authentic materials with which to work.

The creatives have found allies in people who prefer quality construction vs. cheaply manufactured, colorful-yet-deliberately-built-to-break-down merchandise.

The quality construction folks have found allies in those who appreciate the rich psychic energy of older things as opposed to the haunting vapidity of plastic garbage.

And we’ve all found greater purpose together as we align with people who appreciate our planet and are invested in ensuring that our kids are able to prosper, and invested in finding solutions to offset – and to the extent possible, reverse – the damage we’ve already done.  It feels good to know that the choices we make for ourselves are not at odds with the choices we make for our planet…

We’ve also been joined by recreational shoppers and vintage enthusiasts and people seeking human connection in any way they can find it. They, too, belong — and while we hope that exposure to our environmental leanings will translate into influence, we’ll continue sharing donuts and welcome greetings, regardless — because we’re changing lives for the better, theirs included.

I’m no longer alone in the basement. Instead, I’ve established a bigger purpose, a jeans+ t-shirt existence, and a rich life filled with beautiful people who share an appreciation for beautiful, well-made things — and a common respect for limited resources.

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