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Public Service: Thistle Farms' entrepreneurship heals lives, but needs sales
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Rev. Becca Stevens

Shopping this week? Thistle Farms, the nonprofit venture founded by Magadalene program founder Rev. Becca Stevens, needs sales acceleration now to meet its goals in 2012, Stevens recently told VNC.

Magdalene/Thistle Farms is a social enterprise serving women who are healing from violence, addiction and-or prostitution; it aims to earn its way in the world by producing and marketing its Thistle Farms-branded line of bath and skin-care products.

It needs to double its sales as rapidly as possible, in order, among other things, to begin buying raw materials in greater volumes and marketing its products more broadly. Its topline from operations is roughly $1.2 million annually.

Good wishes from those sympathetic with Magdalene's mission are welcomed; however, the enterprise needs both men and women to "use the products," Stevens emphasized during a recent VNC interview.

Stevens explained that while grants have supported some of Magdalene's work, revenue earned through the marketplace builds stronger bonds for social justice, as well as for Thistle Farms, itself.

Thistle Farms products are now available in 10 Whole Foods stores in the Southeast and the company aims to market via the chain's stores nationwide, she said.

Its website says its products are now available in 140 stores. Gifts of products may be ordered online. (Today is the last day to order for holiday delivery.) Thistle Farms also creates gifts to support weddings and home sales parties.

Stevens, 48, is also the Episcopal chaplain at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church on the Vanderbilt University campus. She and husband songwriter Marcus Hummon have three sons. Stevens has been honored by The White House for her work and Magdalene's frequent media coverage has included National Public Radio, The Tennessean, The City Paper and Huffington Post.

An oft-published author, Stevens' next book -- Snake Oil -- is due out from Jericho Books in March 2012.

Magdalene/Thistle Farms is advised by attorneys from Bass Berry & Sims; its accountants are Frasier Dean Howard. Executives from those firms serve on the nonprofit's board of directors. VNC

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Tags: addiction, Bass Berry & Sims, consumers, e-commerce, Frasier Dean Howard, Magdalene, nonprofits, packaged goods, personal care, retailing, social enterprise, St. Augustine's Episcopal Chapel, Thistle Farms, violence, Whole Foods, women

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