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Gratitude Amidst Black Friday

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As Founder of JOYN, I often think through the culture I desire to establish for this organization.  I’ve been especially contemplative during this season of Thanksgiving….

Last summer, my family and I were packing our bags, getting ready to leave our home in India for a short business trip to London and the US. We packed four backpacks, one for each of us, and two little carry-ons for our trip. We had heard reports of the Nationalist Administration deporting Westerner’s from India, but with growing businesses and long-term valid visas, we felt confident we would be safe. We were wrong. As we were exiting immigration in Delhi, getting ready to board our plane, we were notified we would not be able to return to India.

It was devastating.

We had just been ripped away from our home, our community, our businesses, and our dreams. For over 5 years, we risked it all - we were all in, holding nothing back and now, we may never be able to return. And what was worse, if we were honest with ourselves, we weren’t sure the work could continue on without us. But we were wrong again. Thankfully, we were dead wrong. Our leaders rose up and began to make the big decisions they would normally defer to us. They linked arms and carried out the vision. They proved they didn’t need us there, by their side - in fact, they seem to have needed us to leave so they could keep growing without us.

It’s been a difficult season. But our friends continue to do beautiful work, our businesses continue to grow, and our community keeps pressing on. We are so proud of their work and more importantly, we’re so proud that they love each other well and that they search for truth together. More than being great artisans, they are our closest friends, and we hope to be able to get back to them someday soon.

Thanksgiving is upon us now and sometimes gratitude requires intentionality and effort. This is a time for appreciation in our hearts for all we’ve been given—even when it feels like we’ve lost something deep.

This year JOYN won’t be celebrating Black Friday or Cyber Monday alongside the majority of the fashion industry. We are so thankful for our customers and our growing sales, but we won’t ask you to use this holiday as a time to buy more. We want this time to be about giving instead of getting. Most brands out there are driving us to believe we don’t have enough and it’s just not true. In fact, we might even have too much.

This holiday season we encourage you to think intentionally about how and what you spend your money on. Be conscious of what you’re consuming and know how it’s made. Use this time to consider the harmful effects of over-consumption on our world and its beautiful people, especially the marginalized. Practice intentional thankfulness and consider how your gift-giving this season will affect those with less.

If you’re with us, take a break from Black Friday and spend some time extending your season of gratitude. Set aside some time to reflect. Think of ways to give of your time, talents, and resources to others with less. We’d love to hear your stories or thoughts, share them with us on Facebook or Instagram by using #JOYNinthanks and tagging us @joynindia.

With JOY,

P.S. My precious family and I leave the country this Friday for a MONTH long trip to visit six countries in Southeast Asia - exploring where to expand the JOYN story. Follow us @joynindia to hear about our adventures along the way.



  • Nancy Levan: November 25, 2016

    Mel you are inspiration to us all. Sending you lots of love. May your trip be filled with wonder and joy. You’re in my heart always.


  • PT: November 24, 2016

    Never met you, but came to know JOYN thru our mutual friends. Your awesome mom also taught one of my children. I so agree with many of the statements you wrote. For many years, like so many, I was “caught up in the world”. About 15 yrs ago, I started to “see” and in the last decade have made major changes thru our life journey. In addition to changing our lifestyle, am “intentionally and consciously” evaluating every purchase made from consumables to non consumables. It truly has “free-d” our life to focus on the “joy” in life and to serving the Lord! When the focus is on needs not wants, it’s very SIMPLE! And whoever says “it’s too hard” or “we are too busy” or “we have too many bills”, they truly are missing out on God’s focus. We make very little, have everything we “need” and still so enjoy life and serving others. Standing by you in your journey and in prayer!!!

  • * karen: November 24, 2016

    Oh!! Mel…..I am soooo sorry to hear your story! I met you at If:Leaders 2015, in Orlando, and fell in love with you and your love and passion for your friends, in India! I have shared your JOYN bags every holiday with my family and friends! We all love you and your ministry!
    Our children live in China, so let me know if you need a friend in Wuhan, China. Visas have become VERY difficult for them, too!! Please know that we lift you and your ministry up to our faithful GOoD Lord!! Happy ThanksLiving!!
    Love you dearly!! ~ karen carpenter

  • Sharon Koranda Ma: November 24, 2016

    If you ever get to Shanghai, China, you must let me know! Love following your vision and your story!

  • SHARON : November 23, 2016
    What a blessed way to begin the season of celebrating our lords birth thank you so much for your challenge the trials you have been through and what God has yet to do in your lives God bless you as you travel and make you ever thankful friend SHARON Moyer
  • Margaret Stone: November 22, 2016

    Thank you Mel for such a wonderful letter about the ups and downs of your life with Joyn.
    I have had the privilege of visiting the workshop in Rajpur and so enjoyed meeting everyone and being shown around. The work that you do is wonderful and the sense of family and commitment and joy was palpable.
    I came away with a beautiful bag but much more importantly deep gratitude for the work that you started and that continues with the loved ones you left behind.
    I hope to return to Rajpur one day and maybe see you there too. Sincerely, Margaret Stone

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