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Posted by Susan Opeka on October 03, 2017
The women who founded Alchemy IV, the creators of our line of Blessings Bowls®, hold a strong belief: to take a thing and make it more, to invest it with joy and spirit and warmth, to wrap it in your hands and mold it with love, to turn it loose and watch it make its way, is to do God’s work here on earth. And we believe they do that and more.
What is a Blessings Bowl®? It is a beautiful bowl—polished aluminum, crackled glass, or hand-thrown stoneware—that holds written acknowledgment of the blessings in your life. The most meaningful gift you’ll ever give, the Blessings Bowl® is a gift of gratitude and a customized gift that celebrates life’s blessings.
We asked Susan Imhoff, one of the owners of Alchemy IV, how she got started on the path to creating the bowls.
Uplifting Goods (UG): How did you come up with the idea for Blessings Bowls?
Susan: When I had four small children, including one who was severely disabled, teachers were an incredibly important part of my life. For Christmas one year I bought some beautiful bowls to give them, but then couldn’t decide what to put in the bowls. I pondered, and finally realized what I wanted to let them know was how they had been a gift to me. So I wrote a short poem, added paper and ribbons, and wrote to the recipient a specific way that person had blessed me. I ended up making similar bowls for all my close friends, and the reception was wonderful. One friend told me I should market the bowls . . . so after a few months of trying to figure out how, I invited a good friend to partner with my and the Blessings Bowl company was born.
UG: How do you decide on the themes and packaging for the bowls?
Susan: We have a friend who is a graphic designer, and he created our logo and all of the printed materials. I am the writer, and my friend Connie and I have brainstormed all of the themes and color stories, with a little help from our designer and our box company. We source our papers, ribbons, bowls—everything—from local, national, and international markets. One of our best connections is our potter, who makes all of our stoneware bowls, who is an artist living in Coalville, Utah. Our biggest frustration over the 16 years we’ve been in business is when a product we love (a specific paper or ribbon color) is discontinued and we have to adjust our line!
UG: What is the process for putting the Blessings Bowls packages together?
Susan: For years we have worked with the Work Activity Center, a training and day program for adults with disabilities, who put many of our sets together. Unfortunately, we are no longer working with them due to changes in structure and management. We have at times hired people to cut ribbon, unpack raw materials, and put our sets together, and at other times Connie and I have done it ourselves, creating production lines with boxes, shred, bowls, paper packets, poem cards, and more spread out wherever we could find room.
UG: What feedback about the Blessings Bowls do you receive from your customers?
Susan: Comments from customers and recipients have kept us going all these years. When we hear that recipients have cried, our hearts glow. We believe that whatever small piece we’re able to play in an exchange of gratitude, is itself a gift to us. Ralph Waldo Emerson has said that the only true gift is a portion of thyself… we agree, and designed our products to help people do just that.
We’re so grateful Susan and her partner decided to create these wonderful gifts. You can check out the ones we carry here.