As part of my “Living Local” series I’ve started this spring, I decided to poll my friends on Facebook and ask others in person, what their favorite local places to shop were. Most people got excited about 1 or 2 stores and had a quick sales pitch of why they liked that place. After talking to a few hundred people who live in this area, I felt that I had a good idea of what most locals and blog readers like. Last month I decided to visit each store recommended to me. I was able to chat with the owners and learn about what makes them special and unique- as well as do a fun fashion shoot with a friend!
Over the next few weeks I’ll share some of the best places to shop in Northwest Arkansas based on YOUR suggestions. Even if you don’t live in NW Arkansas, you will probably still enjoy all the posts because we are getting fashion tips from the experts! With a wide variety of shops visited, there is something for everyone.
It’s safe to say that Fayetteville will never have too many coffee shops. From the studying college student to the mom on the go, community is cultivated over our mutual caffeine addictions. Perhaps less common, however, is a coffee shop intended for a greater purpose. I have the honor and privilege to work as a barista at Mama Carmen’s Espresso Café, promoting orphan care through coffee development. Six years ago, a Guatemalan woman named Mama Carmen was anonymously given a coffee farm. This woman ran an orphanage housing anywhere from 80-100 kids at a time. The café was started in efforts to help fund Mama Carmen’s orphanage while maintaining to a high standard of coffee.
There’s more to this place than just lattes and mochas though, they also have an ever evolving line of accessories. Cute scarves, bags, and jewelry can be found at the Global Shoppe year round, all made by women overseas. The JOYN line connects artisans in India with the western market, creating a sustainable livelihood for impoverished people. These aren’t items you just buy for the good cause though, the adorable prints and color schemes are reason enough.
My job at Mama Carmen’s came straight from the Lord. I’ve always entertained the thought of being that chatty charismatic easy going barista, but I almost didn’t even apply out of a fear of competition. Every Christian college student in Fayetteville will be vying for that job, right? Before I knew it, these words were coming out of my mouth mid-interview: “I mean, I’m here all the time anyways…I figured you guys could start paying me.” Fortunately, they thought it was funny. There’s something so drastically different about working among believers.
Perhaps it’s the bounty of grace they gave me when I’d make a rookie mistake, maybe it was the moment I walked in on my manager and a fellow barrista praying in the backroom for peace over a stressful situation, but the bottom line is this: it’s different, and the difference is Christ.
I love that every Tuesday and Thursday morning I get to witness faithful discipleship. They’ll walk in 6 AM sharp, clutching bibles and grateful for some coffee. I love the group of twenty high school students that crowd around our conference table every Wednesday before school, engaged in scripture and discussion. I love telling and re-telling the story of Mama Carmen and the way she lives out James 1:27-
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Inside of everyone is a longing to stand for something. There’s a desire to be more than our busy schedules and our number of Twitter followers. Deep in our human DNA we crave significance, and this may sound melodramatic, but that’s the part of me that identifies with the cause of Mama Carmen’s.
***************In the interest of being 100% transparent, neither I nor anyone else receive ANY financial benefit (whether gift cards, discounts, coupons, etc) in any way for doing this series. I wanted to educate my readers and have a fun series on beauty, fashion and living in Northwest Arkansas.