New business spreads kindness
Of course, people go into business with varying motives and goals. In a refreshing venture, one new business is dedicated solely to spreading kindness, and its front-persons are introducing the world to the concept of a sugarlump—the love you feel in your heart when you're kind.
"Kids are born with unconditional love and wisdom and intuition built right in. That's what I call a sugarlump," said Erin Sorenson, founder of the Sugarlump brand. "It's the feeling inside when you connect to that instinctive part of yourself. And when you share it with others through kindness, it's the best feeling in the world."
The concept was borne when Sorenson was just eight years old and was the victim of bullying. Instead of sulking or seeking revenge, Sorenson did something unexpected.
"I started a make-believe world of kindness through drawing and coloring characters with big happy faces," Sorenson said. "I created characters of my classmates doing things they loved and it brought lots of happiness and laughter…I passed out little notes and made people happy; and little by little, I realized there was such kindness in appreciating our different characteristics."
The experience influenced Sorenson's outlook of the world and the humans in it, and even opened her eyes to the possibility of turning that make-believe world of kindness into a present reality.
"It taught me how special everyone is and to appreciate how everyone has gifts they are born with," Sorenson said. "Let's use them all to collaborate on our collective greatness. Think of the solutions we could bring to the world if we worked together instead of making our differences negative. In order to turn this world around, we need to appreciate our individual strengths and work together from a place of kindness and collaboration. No more blaming, arguing or complaining. Our kids need tools to create a new future that eradicates negativity."
Fast forward many years, and Sorenson noticed a familiar and problematic pattern in the lives of her own children. She coached her daughter's soccer team from the time the players were five-years-old to age 12. She said the girls went from loving and including each other to growing apart into cliques.
"It broke my heart," Sorenson said. "I also became extremely sensitive to what was on the news and the negativity happening all around us. I realized my kids were hearing all of it and feeling helpless. I knew they needed a platform to make the world, THEIR world, a better place."
Enter the Sugarlump brand. The company sells kindness kits, which are cute, plush cubes that Sorenson considers toolboxes of kindness. The pockets are filled with cards and stickers that inspire kids to perform acts of creative kindness, to challenge each other and then to share their stories via the hashtag #sugarlumpsurprise.
The kits are available online at sugarlumpsurprise.com. But this summer, Sugarlump is also taking kindness to the streets of Lake Oswego in a new pop-up shop called Adventures in Kindness.
The shop itself was created by the VW van-inspired brand Dub Box USA, based in Aurora.
In 2012, Dub Box USA owner Heather Gardella created molds from VW parts, designed the chassis, set up a supply chain and hired a workforce. The company shipped its first Dub Box less than a year later to Ohana Hot Dogs in Utah.
This year, the company was particularly excited about creating a Dub Box for Sugarlump since it would be the first Dinky Dub and because Sugarlump's message is "contagious."
"It has been so uplifting," Gardella said. "Sugarlump has sparked an awareness in me, and my family, that has changed how we interact with each other and the people around us. When someone has been kind to us we say, 'I've been Sugarlumped!' When we see or hear each other being unkind we say, 'Hey, that's not very Sugarlump of you!' When someone is unkind to us we say, 'They need a Sugarlump!'
"Sugarlump diffuses the negativity and changes your mindset. The Sugarlump Adventure in Kindness is contagious," Gardell added.
View the Sugarlump shop and other Dub Boxes online at dub-box-usa.com.
In addition to inspiring at the pop-up shop, Sugarlump is also partnering with local Lake Oswego businesses this summer to provide incentives for acts of kindness. Sorenson developed a Pokemon Go-style app where kids can scan a sticker in a retailer's window and learn about a sponsored kindness challenge. After kids complete the challenge, they return to the business and get a treat.
"Our idea was to turn Lake Oswego in the City of Sweetness by getting retailers involved and creating a scavenger hunt of kindness," Sorenson said.
Following the summer stint in Lake Oswego, Sorenson and team will take the shop to different events in Oregon and even other states. To find out where they'll be, visit the events page at sugarlumpsurprise.com.
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