When the art of Nature and the art of Humans go hand in hand, the result is Perfection.
“We are all surrounded by tragic stories. Some people let these stories get to them in a negative way. I have chosen to turn them into the fuel that revs up my social and business commitment. This is certainly the way we can all make a positive difference in the world.”
Three children were wandering aimlessly through the narrow streets. The seven-year-old boy was naked and his two younger sisters were barely clothed. They walked all the time together, always hungry and dirty. Little Dinora, was watching them from the distance. Their impoverished look was so distressing that she began to cry. That pain in the chest kept reappearing every time she saw the children passing by her house. She didn’t understand why and she couldn’t explain her feelings. If she had known how to help them, she surely would have done that. But she was too little and helpless and the world was too big and enigmatic at that moment. Earthquakes, several years of continued civil war and gangs wiped out the economy leaving people without homes, food, jobs, or any means of support in El Salvador.
When the boy was older, he started to sell ice cream pushing a cart on the streets. He was a really nice boy and people liked him for his outgoing personality. His smile was a refreshing sight in the middle of the turmoil of the civil war. Dinora was excited he found a way to earn his living and hoped the best for his future. But soon, things turned against that boy. Someone who wrongly believed the boy was a member of the guerillas informed the police. One night, the Escadron de la Morte (the death squadron) of the Salvadorian army came to pick him up. They tortured and finally killed him. But the horrible things that happened to that boy and his sisters impressed a lasting memory on her mind.
The memory didn’t vanish with time. Instead, it helped her move on by moving out. When Dinora grew up, she moved to the United States. It wasn’t easy, but finally she got the better life she was dreaming of as a child. Dinora knew that this huge opportunity was not bestowed on her by chance, so she started enthusiastically to devise a plan to help her people. Every time she went back to El Salvador, Dinora shared her money, her goods, her encouraging story with those in need. She did everything in her power to bring a smile on their faces, to help them make ends meet, to show them that there are people in this world who care about their welfare. She thought this was the best she could ever do. But one time, when she was left penniless in her pocket so that she had to ask a friend for a dollar to buy an ice cream, she had a revelation that would definitely change her life and vision of helping others.
HOPE IS NOT A FEELING, IT IS AN ACTION. When someone hopes for better, he or she must take action.
This revelation was so dramatic that her hope was reborn into a new amazing perspective. Dinora knew that nobody and nothing could take it away from her anymore. She realized that she channeled her hope in the wrong direction. By giving money to poor people, she just helped them to stay there in the poverty, because once the money was gone, they would end up in the same place. If she really wanted to help them, she should lead by example and thus, prove them that hope means action. Her mission became very clear to her: to create sustainable resources to improve the economic condition of single mothers and poor families in El Salvador.
Back in the USA, she received a special $100 birthday gift from a friend. Dinora considered it an encouraging push to become a social entrepreneur. But she had no experience and she didn’t know where to begin. It takes power and courage to turn feelings into actions, but Dinora was strongly determined to do that. Nothing could scare her enthusiasm away. She started looking for ways to empower the poverty-stricken people to take the wheel of the fate in their hands and stir it to their best benefit. Now, having a vision and a mission, Dinora wanted to invest her energy and money in the right business project.
Weeks turned into months and Dinora still didn’t find the best business idea. At that time, she was working for one of her best employers, who used to complain that there was nothing out of the ordinary or special in the market for greeting cards. This idea struck her and made her contemplate the possibility to connect it to her passion for collecting wildflowers. This is how Nini Expressions – “expressions with a mission” as she affectionately calls it – came into being. Dinora was so excited that she immediately started the project.
But the struggle was not over. It took her almost three years to figure out which wild flowers save the colors when dried and glued on paper and which don’t. Then, she had to devise special techniques, without using chemicals or machines to dry or glue the flowers, or any kind of things that involve pollution. Her main concerns were to preserve everything organic and ecological. As if this was not hard enough, she had to find a way to work against the odds of the nature. If the weather is too humid, the materials, being natural and organic, lose most of their quality. If it is too dry, the materials get so dry that it is almost impossible to cut and work with them. With her characteristic determination, Dinora overcame all these obstacles.
This long journey taught Dinora some priceless life lessons that she eagerly shares with anyone coming across her path. She discovered a talent that she never thought of and a new life that she never enjoyed before. She realized that the beauty of giving hope is much greater than receiving it. She also learned that nature is the most wonderful way to connect hearts and smiles from all over the world. Finally, she learned that the greatest success in business is not when the company doubles its revenues, but when the company turns into a big family. This is when magic happens and Dinora is excited to be part of it.
The magic of Nini Expressions has some more ingredients. One of the most important is the fact that Nini Expressions gives wings to creative Salvadorian artisans. It gives them all the freedom to play with the materials and devise unique and artistic greeting cards. There is no pattern, no restraint, no use of technology, other than scissors and glue. They use natural and organic materials like herbs, grains, banana and coconut bark, and our most abundant resource—wildflowers, without making a negative impact on the planet. Dinora taught them special techniques to work with these fragile materials, so that their natural beauty can be preserved after being cut and glued. With their skillful hands, the artisans create works of art, each of them unique in its way. The outcome was beyond expectations.
Not only did Dinora generate the resources that improved financial conditions for more families in need from EL Salvador, but she also gave them a platform to reach the world with a powerful, yet simple message: get closer to nature! We all have the natural resources close at hand to get creative and bring a smile on the face of our beloved ones. But few of us take time to use them. And most of us don’t know how. Nini Expressions made it possible for all of us to get closer to nature through these artistically designed cards. Whenever you buy a card, you bring a new hope into the life of a poor family, but also the art and beauty of nature into your life.