How We Got Here
My daughter and I set out to find her a productive hobby that would give her something artistic to do with her hands that would provide her with a sense of accomplishment. When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said that she wanted to do something to raise awareness about mental health issues (especially suicide awareness and prevention). So, we went to Hobby Lobby and started looking around.
The idea she settled on was making "worry stones". We bought a bag of rocks (actually glass mosaic accent gems) and a cheap rotary tool and started carving them to give to family, friends and anyone who would take them. The first ones she made had semi colons engraved in them. (For those of you who don't know, the semi colon is to support suicide awareness / prevention because it symbolizes that the author (person considering suicide) could have ended the sentence (their life), but chose to pause and move on with the sentence (their life).
Many people find the rocks to be very relaxing. Some people leave them on their night stands, others keep them in their purse, pocket or backpack. And one girl I know has 10 of them scattered all around her world so she never has to look far to find one. Personally, I keep one in my pocket at all times. Every time I reach for my keys or change, I feel the rock and remember what it stands for. Mine says "My Rock And I", and when I hold it in my hand and rub my thumb over the letters, I remember that "My Rock And I can do anything." Every person has a reason to carry a rock, and they just need to find the right rock for that reason.
One day I asked my students if any of them would like a rock, and 20 of them took one. We figured that they were just being polite and doing what their Professor wanted them to do, but we were encouraged to make more. Over the next week, other students started asking about the rocks, and some even asked if we could put other things on them. So, we experimented. Here are a few of the ideas we came up with:
As the assortment of rocks grew, so did the number of people asking for them. And as the number of people carrying them increased, so did the feedback. When school went on break, the students took their rocks with them and posted pictures on social media holding their rocks and saying "#MyRockAndI are on the beach in Florida", and things like that. It was quite an experience for Jessie.
One lady picked up a Breathe rock out of the blue one day, and the next thing she knew her daughter had an anaphylactic reaction and couldn't breathe. She posted a picture on Instagram with her rock sitting on her knee as she waited for word from her daughter who was in the ICU. Thankfully, her daughter recovered and everything turned out ok. The next time she saw Jessie, she gave her a huge hug, and they both cried.
Another lady was doing volunteer training at a local hospital that specializes in treating children (I won't name drop, but if you can't figure out the hospital, send me a message and I'll let you know), and the staff noticed her rock. She had a Dot Dot Dot Rock (the three dots were a shorthand that we came up with for You're Not Alone) and when she explained it to the staff, they indicated that they would like to give them to the patients and families that came through the hospital.
We made 100 rocks with three dots on them and dropped them off with Social Services so that they could ensure that they got to the patients and families who needed them. When we checked back with them later, they said that everyone (staff, patients and families) loved them, and even shared a story that one of the patients who was given a rock said that her three dots stood for her three reasons for living. They invited us to come by the following week for a Mental Health Awareness Month event, and we delivered another 50 rocks to them that day.
While we were visiting the booths at the event, we met the Chaplain. Jessie showed her the rocks we had brought for Social Services, and she said that they were amazing. When we told her about the Breathe rock described above, she indicated that she would love to have rocks to hand out to people who were stuck in the Emergency Room and/or Surgery waiting areas. We followed up with her the next week, and she indicated that she would like to have Dot Dot Dot and Breathe rocks for the waiting rooms because she felt that those would be most appropriate for those settings. We really want to fill this request.
Why We Are Doing This
Over the past three years, we have learned that Jessie is an Empath (MY terminology, not a diagnosis). Whenever she meets someone, she has an uncanny ability to get inside their minds and hearts... and not just understand what they feel... she actually goes there herself. When this happens, it is sometimes very difficult to get her mood back up to the point where she can function. This project has been so wonderful because it has allowed her to do something that impacts people's lives for the good without having to fully immerse herself in their emotional state and experience what they are going through. The vast majority of the feedback she gets is for the positive things that have come about because of her rocks, and we believe that this is the most healthy thing she has done since all this started. The objective is to figure out how to expand her reach without further draining the time, energy and resources out of her (and the rest of the family).
Many people have asked how much she charges for them, but the answer has always been "we aren't selling them." Some have insisted, and we have accepted some money with the strict understanding that it will all be poured into buying more rocks that we can carve for the next person. It's just hard to think about making money when these things need to be out there regardless of the profit. (I told Jessie that I need to go on that TV show where you get investors, and I should make a deal with Mr. Wonderful. HE would make sure that the product went everywhere it could possibly go, and we'd make all the money we possibly could.)
School is out for the summer, and we have been having discussions about whether or not she should get a job to save up for college next year. We both see the positive aspects of her taking that step, but we understand that her taking a job will pretty much mean an end to this project. We (and a lot of other people) have seen the power and positive impact this hobby has had as far away as Colorado, Florida and New Mexico, and we have been told countless times that we "should sell these things!" I think it's time to see if that is true.
This project has funded successfully, and we will use the funds to purchase more rocks, a couple better (and lighter) rotary tools, bits, and pay a fast food kitchen wage so Jessie can work at home instead of working a job that doesn't make this kind of impact on the world. Any funds remaining at that point will be spent on advertising to drive more public demand so that the business becomes self sustaining. It is our hope that Jessie will be able to build this into an ongoing part time (if not eventually full time) job that she can use to save up for college.
The potential in this market is almost unlimited, and if we can just capture 1/2 of one percent of it, we... Yes, Mr. Cuban??
Seriously... While being in three mental health provider's offices and an amazing hospital is a great start, we know that there are therapists, counselors and psychiatrists all over this nation who could use these for their patients. There are also doctor's office, Emergency Room, ICU and Surgery waiting rooms everywhere, and these rocks could be a great comfort to the families waiting in them.
We also want to serve the Military Veterans. Statistics indicate that we are losing 22 former service members to suicide EVERY DAY. That's 22 too many. Every Day. Some will argue those statistics, and all I will say is that ONE is too many, and leave it at that. These rocks should be available to every VA mental health service provider in the nation to hand out to their patients, and should be available in every waiting room in every VA facility in the nation.
Thanks to the same lady who got the first rocks into the Children's Hospital, we are now in discussions to provide rocks to one of the nation's largest youth-centric non profit organizations to provide rocks to every attendee of their upcoming national convention. This would put 800 additional rocks into circulation via their "swag bag" that each attendee will receive. (If this actually happens, we might just be back here doing another campaign.)
You don't have to have mental health issues to appreciate our rocks. The majority of the people who are carrying the rocks are just normal (as normal as people get in Southeast Texas) people who enjoy having a touch stone with them as they go through their day. Other potential markets include church groups, fund raisers, fraternities / sororities, sports teams and schools. They make great reminders of upcoming dates (weddings, vacations or the end of finals week) and for reminders of past dates (anniversaries, sobriety dates, etc.) We have even made rocks for a dear friend of mine to give out at a Celebration of Life that she hosted for someone who passed away.
Full (and Absolute) Disclosure
It is important to note that Jessie doesn't personally engrave every single one of these stones. This is HER project, but it is also a family affair (her mom, sister and I help out to get whatever needs to be done completed). This project is important to all of us, and provides a positive outlet for some of the stress that comes with being a family with two teenaged daughters in it. I can, however, absolutely assure you that she is intimately involved in the purchase of the rocks, engraving, cleaning, packing and shipping . She crosses paths with every single rock at some point in the process, and considers every single one of them hers. She also has a couple of really close friends who have been begging to be a part of this project, but we just haven't been able to utilize them because the demand hasn't been strong enough. We would love to include them if the demand gets strong enough.
There are other "Worry Stones" out there on the market. Some of them are absolutely beautiful. They come in all shapes, sizes, and composition. You can even get them with your favorite saying, bible verse, images etched / pressed / painted into them. We aren't set up to do any of those things. Every rock we do is "freehanded" with a rotary tool, so the amount of information we can get on a rock is limited, and while we can do words and flowers, our ability to do logos or images is severely limited. We also have some smaller red and blue round rocks (a little larger than a dime), but they are only large enough for a flower, semi colon or Dot Dot Dot, and we are hesitant to put a lot of those out there because they could be a choking hazard if they got in the hands of small children.
And sometimes we mess up. Jessie likes to say that every rock is flawed... just like her, and probably just like you!
While prices vary wildly depending on what is on the other people's rocks, how they are processed and what they are made of, we fully believe that our rocks are more than reasonably priced. And we guarantee that every single one of them has been done with love and a belief that it is going to impact your life when you get it. You will soon be seeing them out there on Amazon, Etsy and the others so you can do a side by side comparison.
A big part of the cost of these rocks comes from shipping and handling. Due to their size and shape, they have to be put in padded "bubble envelopes" (kind of expensive) to keep from chewing up the USPS sorting machines, and the postage is also expensive. We haven't shipped many because most of them have been hand delivered, but as we get experience, we hope that we will be able to significantly decrease these costs. For now, we are operating on the "Ramen Noodle Shipping Rule" and assuming that the cost of delivering the product is going to be higher than the actual cost of the product.
THIS PRODUCT IS NOT MEANT TO PREVENT, DIAGNOSE, CURE OR TREAT ANY ILLNESS OR DISEASE.
Success Looks Like
For everyone who made a pledge, we will donate a rock to a deserving organization for every one you get. We are expecting a lot of volume, so we will be focusing on the rocks that we know are popular. You will have your choice of Blue Oval, Black Oval, Purple Oval, Clear Star, Tinted Star (these are only slightly colored) or a Long / Bent Rock (these are clear with a colored center kind of like a marble). There are a few other options available, so if you aren't happy with the above options, just let us know and we will try to accommodate you as best we can. We will custom engrave which ever rock you choose with whatever you want (within reason and under 12 letters), but will give the receiving organization to option to pick the type of rock they want and what is engraved on the ones we donate.
Goal : $500 Thankfully, this project funded at over 233%, and the money will be used to buy a couple new hand held engravers, bits and the blank rocks needed to create all the rewards for the supporters, plus all the rocks to be delivered to the children's hospital or non profit organization for distribution to the patients and families that need a little something in their hands to calm them and remind them that they aren't alone.
Thank You for Your Help and Support
We understand that not everyone could make a pledge, and some people weren't even remotely interested in the product we make. But we had 40 backers to the project, and met some amazing (and inspiring) people along the way. We promise to do our best to spread the blessings you have all bestowed on us with as many others as we can.
Where To Now?
We will be doing periodic updates here on KickStarter as we work through order fulfillment. After that, you will be able to go to http://www.myrockandi.com to order more rocks or find the links to our social media outlets. (Please know that the website may be up and down over the next couple of weeks as we build out an online store and work out the kinks that always come with that.)
Risks and challenges
We are production ready, but there is always a slight risk associated with getting the raw materials if demand is too high. We also expect some learning curve issues when it comes to shipping and handling, but believe that those issues will quickly resolve with experience and volume.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)