I’m excited to share with you recent photos from The Ebongalethu Educare Center!  For those of you who purchased and sent cards from the Valentine’s Day Cards For A Cause Campaign, this is the school you are supporting and the little ones you are providing meals for!

The EEC is located in Motherwell, South Africa (close to Port Elizabeth).  This area is stricken by poverty and many of the children who go to the center have parents or guardians who need to go to surrounding cities to work / look for work.  Although some of these boys and girls have already had a rough start in life, The EEC, run by Gladys (shown in the photo below) helps to ensure that these little ones are getting the proper nutrition, education, and care they need to continue to grow.

Your help and generosity is greatly appreciated- it makes a difference in the lives of each of these children you see, as well as their classmates who were not shown in these pics (hopefully you will meet them next time)!


PS: You can learn more about The Ebongalethu Educare Center HERE and I’ve also written about how the donation / delivery process with the meals work at the bottom of this post.

The EEC // Gladys, founder, + little ones

Some of the children standing at the front of the school with Gladys.  Some of the newer students who have not been there during a visit have never seen a camera before and are a little shy at first!  Once they get used to Cindy and the team from Miracle Meals Trust, they become little hams :)

Aphelele + Achumile + Friend

The little boy on the right is Aphelele, and he is 2 years old.  His brother, Achumile who is 4 years old also goes to The EEC.  Sadly their single mother passed away in January from cancer.  Their Grandma is caring for them now but is having a hard time.  Cindy is going to arrange to send them home with extra porridge to help, as well as clothing for the boys as they grow.  Hopefully this in addition to being at the Educare Center will help their Grandma to care for them.

Good students :)

Good students working on drawings of houses, people, and cars!

Good student working hard!


Here is Gladys, one of the caretakers who help her, and some of the little boys who go to The EEC.

Furniture delivery!

First National Bank donated lots of furniture that will be give to the different schools.  Cindy brought The EEC’s items with her during this visit– they are looking forward to having new furniture that will be put to good use!

Cindy + Gladys at The Ebongalethu Educare Center

Cindy, Gladys, and some of the little ones!  Many of them were not here during the last visit and was meeting Cindy and getting their photos taken for the first time!  Which is why they look so serious!  Cindy said usually by the second and third visit they remember her and love getting their photos snapped!


In case this is the first time you have been involved or reading about this, this is how the donation / distribution works:

Food4Africa is a non-profit I met while in South Africa who provides meals for babies and children throughout different areas in the country affected by poverty.  They created a nutritious porridge formula which they manufacture and have volunteers and partnering groups distribute.  The EEC is one of the schools Food4Africa supports which is how I came to know about and sponsor them.

Once a campaign is complete, I make a credit card donation through the Food4Africa website to get the funds to them.  This is quickest and easiest way to do it and incurs the least amount of fees. 100% of the donation goes to purchasing the porridge for the kids.

Then Cindy (she is also pictured below), who is from Miracle Meals Trust and is a partner of Food4Africa, picks up the packets of porridge and delivers it directly to the school.  Cindy is also my contact person for The EEC and is the one sending me awesome emails with photos, updates, and stories!

Hopefully that all made sense and gives you an idea of how your purchase becomes a meal and gets from here to there!

The porridge that is provided consists of cooked maize, soy, 26 vitamins, minerals and amino acids, carbohydrates, fiber, and cereal fats that work to maximize nutrient intake on a daily basis. The porridge has the nutritional density 29 times that of refined maize which is the staple diet in rural Africa.  It can easily be mixed with juice to make a yummy and healthy meal for little ones to enjoy and gobble up!

Posted in Cards for a Cause, TEEC Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Happy Valentine’s Day! THANK YOU so much to everyone who participated in the 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Cards For A Cause!  Whether you purchased a card, told a friend about it, or shared on social media, it is with your help that we were able to raise as many meals as we did!

So what is the final count?  As of today, we have raised…

10,790 meals

for the babies and toddlers at
The Ebongalethu Educare Center Preschool + Nursery in South Africa!

Vday CFAC Campaign Results!

This provides meals for the 60 children for 6 months!

I am hoping to get some photos of the kiddos and school soon to share with you.

Many cards were made but the most that were crafted were the Long Distance Love card for those of you with sweeties far away but close to your heart!

Kid Friendly DIY Valentine's Day Cards // by atiliay

These cards raised hundreds of meals,

Long Distance Love Cards

and featured 42 states…

State stamps

…and 24 countries!  It also helped me brush up on my non existent geography skills :)

Country Stamps

We also had a super fun Valentine’s Day DIY Workshop + Pop Up Shop Event at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland with the lovely ladies of PaperFox LA!  We colored in and decorated cards and envelopes for moms, dads, and grandparents and raised over 150 meals!

LLW Valentine Event!

Thank you for making this Valentine’s Day mean so much more, and spreading the love to your friends and families
as well as children in South Africa!

Thank you!

PS: These cards will remain available in the Etsy shop and for every one sold, they will continue to benefit The EEC!  If you’d like to contribute to the cause, please send me an email, hi.atiliay (at) gmail.com, and I will give you directions on how you can raise more meals!

Posted in Cards for a Cause | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


The 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Cards For A Cause Campaign is here!

Featuring 20 new designs with everything from long distance love cards to DIY to kid-friendly ones, every item helps to raise meals for The EEC Preschool + Nursery in Motherwell, South Africa! The goal is to secure enough meals for an entire year for all the babies and toddlers who go to The EEC, I hope you will be a part of it!

Cards are available in the ETSY SHOP and you can learn all about the cause and campaign HERE!

Long Distance Love - Customized Card // by atiliay

2014 Valentine's Day Cards For A Cause Campaign // by atiliay

Kid Friendly DIY Valentine's Day Cards // by atiliay

Posted in Cards for a Cause | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


The Artist + Etsy Shop Interview series are Q & A’s with some of my favorite talented artists and designers!  I am hoping these interviews can be both an inspiring and resourceful behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to own and run a creative business using the Etsy platform.  Let’s support and encourage one another and create enthusiasm for what we are passionate about and a sense of camaraderie for the imaginative and artistic community!

This Guy Loves You // By  LizandSquish

It is no secret that I am a HUGE animal lover!  If I see anything animal related or pet friendly I HAVE to stop and check it out.  Liz and Squish’s bright, fun, and whimsical custom pet portraits definitely caught my eye- I also love the name of the shop :) Not only can you get an awesome portrait of your beloved pet, Melissa– the artist behind LAS– also donates 10% of each purchase to animal rescue groups!  Pets + giving back = a winning combination.

Framed Custom Pet Portrait // By LizandSquish

Liz and Squish

Providing custom pet portraits for the hippest of pets.
For every purchase, 10% of proceeds will be donated to animal rescue groups. 

Shop Owner: Melissa Carroll
Opened: November 20, 2013
{{ Shop Link }}
Melissa also has a blog, DesignWellSpent.com, dedicated to featuring great design, i.e. products you actually want to own, that will also do a little good.

Please tell us the story behind your creations and your Etsy shop!

I recently got out of the mass market fashion industry where things can get very stressful and taken a wee bit too seriously. You can’t even imagine how upset a room full of adults can get over the wrong shade of pink! I wanted to spend my time doing something that would combine my passions in a fun, light hearted way and create a product that would make people happy. I’ve been a designer for 12 years and a dog lover my whole life. Design is one of the few things in life I’m good at (seriously, you should see me attempt cooking, singing, or creating an excel document). My dogs are my world and make me feel like a rock star everyday when I open the front door. It seemed inevitable that eventually the two would merge. Plus, who doesn’t love a dog in a bow tie?

What was the hardest thing about starting your Etsy shop?

The hardest thing was just deciding what to do. I dream up about 5 new business ideas a week! But this is just a side project for now so I needed something that wouldn’t require a huge investment upfront and could maybe build a little fund to start something larger down the line.

What is the best thing about being an Etsy shop owner?

The best thing hands down is connecting with so many people all over the world. It’s a lovely community to be a part of.

Sam the Cat // By LizandSquish

How do your customers find out about your products?
I pin images every couple of days on my pinterest accounts, pay for a small amount of ads on Etsy, comment on blogs and post on Facebook. Since my shop is still pretty new, I haven’t invested in a lot of advertisement yet.

What marketing / advertising method(s) have worked well for you and which have not?

So far commenting on blogs and pinning things on pinterest has been the best source of traffic.

Is your Etsy shop your full time job? If so, when did you realize you could do this full time? If not, what is/are your other job(s)? 
My day job is as Lead Designer for a dog bed manufacturer. It’s random, but I love it! I spend my days asking questions like, “which of these fabrics would be softest on a dog’s belly?” or “what changes can I make to this that would make a dog just a little bit happier?”. For me, it’s a much more fulfilling way to spend my days than my previous professional life.

Maya // Custom Pet Portrait // By LizandSquish

What is a typical day like for you?

My day job is 7 – 4 and my commute is 1 hour each way. It makes for an early morning but I get to watch the sunrise everyday and I’m home with plenty of daylight left to enjoy. I work on orders and researching for other personal endeavors at night. I also run a blog dedicated to shopping ethically for well designed products (designwellspent.com) which consumes a lot of my time. Luckily my day job and personal interests overlap quite a bit so any work I do throughout the day benefits all areas of my career.

Do you do everything from creating the artwork to shipping them yourself? Do you have any help?

I do everything myself. Occasionally I rope my husband in to shipping something but my shop is most definitely still at a very manageable point for one person.

If you work without any help, how do you divide your time up between creating new items, marketing and advertising, accounting, and all the other aspects of running a business?

Since my shop is still pretty new, I haven’t had major issues with dividing my time yet. My orders are custom so when an order is placed I usually drop everything and work on the order. I’m still learning all the other aspects of running a business so I spend more time researching business practices than I do on actually applying them.

What are a few of your favorite items from your shop?
I love this one (shown below) but I really love every custom piece I create.

George // By LizandSquish

Tell us 3 fun facts about you :)
1. I’m obsessed with mint green, gold polka dots and Teen Mom.
2. I majored in Art History and somehow landed a job as a rug designer right out of college.
3. If I could find a way to make it work, I wouldn’t even have a home. I’d just travel from one new place to another

Thank you Melissa for sharing more about yourself and your business!  We love what you are doing and wish you much success in 2014 and look forward to seeing the new pieces you create!

Check out all the items in the Liz and Squish shop and email Melissa at LizandSquish (at) gmail (dot) com to get started on your own custom portrait!

Liz and Squish Etsy Shop

All photos are courtesy of the Liz and Squish Etsy shop.

Posted in Artist + Etsy Shop Interview | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Thank you for making atiliay’s first year in action a wonderful one!

Here is a recap of what we were able to accomplish together…

2013 CFAC recapThanks to some awesome bridesmaids and their bridal shower invitation orders, atiliay also able to donate to the following organizations:

The Cancer Society

The North Texas Food Bank

The Foundation for Blind Children

Year round items in the shop have also been fundraising for these non-profits and we will continue to so and make a donation in 2014!

Knots of Love

Las Fotos Project

One Laptop Per Child

Peace of Heart Choir

Schools for Salone

For the new year, atiliay will continue to fundraise for all the organizations mentioned above through our creations as well as team up with some new ones (we are currently working with Hands Producing Hope and are very excited about it)!

Thank you as always for your support!

You have helped atiliay confirm something we strongly believe in- that no act of kindness is too small and together all those acts can accomplish something great.

Let’s make 2014 even greater!





Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment