“If there’s a will, there’s a way” is a popular aphorism that Araya Jensen, founder of Wind and Willow home-goods line, has truly taken to heart. “When I started this business about four years ago, I essentially knew nothing about selling house wares on line,” Jensen says. So she taught herself. She experienced resounding success. And now she’s ready to “collaborate with other artisans and organizations, to raise them up too.” Hence Wind and Willow’s name change to Willful: Goods With Intention.
Jensen promises that her colorfully dipped wooden bowls, spoons, cutting boards and necklaces aren’t going anywhere. Nor are the hand-marbled soft goods (pillows, totes) she recently introduced. But Jensen’s been expanding—personally and professionally.
She’s been working with a local nonprofit, the American Refugee Committee, and its initiative, The Maker’s Collective. As part of the collective, Jensen was one of several Minnesota artisans who collaborated with the American Refugee Committee “to seek inspiration for the design of a custom collection of hand-crafted gifts,” according to the website. “Adding fresh meaning to locally made goods, The Maker’s Collection is an exclusive collection of gift-ready products that work to create real change worldwide.”
“Being involved in that organization has gotten me excited about what they’re doing around the world,” Jensen says. In fact, Jensen traveled to a Burmese refugee camp on the border of Myanmar and Thailand, where in she participated in a music project initiated by the American Refugee Committee and Playing for Change. “A group of about 20 Karen teens and young adults were asked to compose a song and I, as a volunteer, and people from a music school in Thailand, along with the other collaborators helped them record the song on video,” Jensen says, “which will be coming out soon.”
Such projects—as well as working with artisans and makers in refugee camps, and with women textile artisans in India, to potentially bring their products to market—also helped drive Jensen’s company name change. “Our focus remains growing out our product lines, but I also want to focus on other people doing great things and growing a company that’s motivated by intention,” Jensen says.
“I want to use my design ability to bring people around the world with beautiful abilities to a more modern market,” she adds, “working with them hand-in-hand to make sure it’s a win-win for both of us. The name change is energizing and pushing us forward to where we want to go. The name Willful is right.”
By Camille LeFevre
Photo via Willful’s Facebook page