Dogwood Hill Collective was born out of a desire to spread joy and make hearts happy through charming art, beautifully designed products, and imagery that delights and inspires. That has not changed, but sometimes the joy has to be paused, and this is one of those times. Over the last several days, we have paused to listen, to read, to grow in knowledge and empathy, and to examine our hearts. Candidly, as we have listened to and learned from the Black community, it has convicted us in enormous ways. Inequality, injustice, racism – these are things that do not line up with our values; however, a closer look within reveals that we need to do better, not just with our words and posts, but with our actions. We want to start now with changes, some immediate and some over time, but all meaningful and lasting.
As a Birmingham-based company, we looked first to our community on the meaningful work that is being done. We want to highlight a local organization that we love supporting – Grace House in Fairfield. They provide stable homes for Alabama girls in foster care and seek to end the cycle of poverty and abuse they’ve experienced. With our time, we intend to become involved in their education and life skills programs as well as lend our creative talents for any design or paper needs they have for fundraisers and events. With our money, we commit to ongoing support, including their property expansion so they can house more girls. Due to COVID and the inability to gather in person, they have shifted fundraising efforts to a new online campaign called Community Compassion. You can donate money via this link and you can shop common needs listed on their Amazon Wishlist and/or pay for a meal via this link. Please consider joining us in giving to this organization that does the great work of letting their girls know they are safe, they belong, and they are loved. We also encourage you to look at your local communities for organizations that are doing meaningful work there.
We have several mothers on our team and we know it’s critical that we engage our children in discussion about racism and what it means to resist and disrupt oppression. We are impressed with the work being done by The Conscious Kid and we have donated to their Anti-racist Children’s Books Education Fund, which exists to get children’s books that support these conversations into schools across America.
The ways we want you to visually see our changes will be through our social media platforms and on our website. First, we will be offering more diversity in the photography found in our photo-based cards, and we will actively seek to partner with Black photographers who create beautiful work. We have also recently discovered so many Black interior designers, florists, artists, style makers and more who are inspiring us. As creatives, we rely on inspiration and we love to show you frequently what is inspiring us. We are excited to show you the work of these talented women and men, and we are confident you will be greatly inspired by them too. We also plan to extend our Creative Chat series, which was due to end in a couple of weeks, and highlight some of these gifted people both through our social media and blog.
Our company commissions art from a collective of artists and employs graphic designers to create product from that art. We would be remiss if we did not explore the work of Black artists and graphic designers. If there is a Black artist who you admire, please share their name with us in the comments section or via email or encourage them to submit their portfolio to email@example.com. We also commit to adding diversity within our influencer and Tastemaker programs.
We will be joining Reese Witherspoon’s book club in June to read I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. We frequently discuss books among our team and we’re anxious to do the same with this one. Hard copies are currently back ordered, but they should be shipping out soon from various booksellers. You may also listen via audiobook or download an electronic copy for reading on a device.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stephenson is another book we will be reading. The author is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative located in Montgomery, Alabama, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state prisons and jails. The book is now a movie, so there are multiple ways to engage with this impactful message.
We know that our work is just beginning. These are our initial steps that we wanted to communicate with you. Our education will continue, both on the individual and company level. We are so grateful for you and the community we have built, and we value your thoughts and feedback. With that in mind, we are working to put together a focus group in the coming weeks. If you would like to be contacted once it is started or if you have anything else you would like to share with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is impactful and lasting change within our company as it relates to the Black community. We feel confident that positive change will come as we unify and engage, with open hearts, in conversation with a hurting community. Please join us.
With hope, love, and support,
Jennifer Hunt and The Dogwood Hill Collective Team
Cover art by Riley Sheehey