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Meet Kristin Jordan of Zumbido ATL in Southwest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Jordan.

Kristin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
There is a lot of dysfunction, addiction, loss and upheaval in my background. As is often the case in chaotic families, there was abuse and neglect. There was also white privilege enough to mask a lot of the problems from those on the outside looking in. Consequently, isolation within sickly relationships defined most of my early life. Healthy stability really didn’t factor significantly in my life until I became a Christian in my early 30s. Experiencing unconditional love is transformational. It empowers you to practice radical forgiveness – of yourself as well as of others. It allows you to stop striving to be “good enough” to earn acceptance. It gives you freedom to begin to be yourself. Of course, as anybody who has come out of dysfunctional roots knows, it can take quite a while to figure out exactly who you are without all that baggage from before boxing you in and defining your reality. Now that I’m in my 40s I feel like I finally know who I am, and I can have compassion on who I was for all the time before.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I developed some severe health problems in my mid-30s. For the better part of 10 years I was dealing with the aftereffects of having lived three decades in fight or flight, and burning energy I didn’t really have to spare, just to keep going. My body was in constant pain, with widespread stiffness, inflammation and fatigue. I lost most mobility for a time. Basically, I went from being an overly active 30something to feeling like I was about 100 years old and very feeble overnight. Speaking as someone whose upbringing valued productivity and achievement above almost all else, it was a devastating change and the beginning of a challenging journey. For a time, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to work again. I’ve always loved working and found deep satisfaction in a job well done. Who was I without a career? How could I live day to day without a sense of productivity? In answering those questions, I was forced to re-examine and redefine my identity. During that process I was convicted of the fact that I am a beloved child of God, and my contribution to the world is in loving others out of gratitude for how I have been loved by the Lord. All my young life I defined my role as helping others. The shift in focus from helping to loving was profound. While bedridden I often could not help in any way, but I could absolutely, always, love. A few years down the road, I have experienced the unexpected gift of miraculous physical healing. My new business, Zumbido ATL, is a grateful expression of commitment to continue loving others through this renewed well-being I have been given.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Zumbido ATL – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Zumbido ATL will offer a curated selection of fair trade gifts and art from across the globe. Essentially, fair trade means that the artisans engaged in producing the merchandise have safe working conditions, are paid a local living wage, and are free from forced labor or child labor. By fair trade, they are offered opportunities for better quality of life, often including education and health care that would not otherwise be accessible to them. Many of us as consumers are familiar with fair trade jewelry, coffee and chocolate. Regionally, it seems far fewer of us know that there are fair trade spices, flowers, textiles and leather goods, including organic cotton towels and sheets, organic cotton hand block printed dresses, leather shoes, tote and duffel bags available. To build regional awareness of the expanse of fair trade merchandise I established a Facebook page, ATL Friends of Fair Trade, early this year. The page networks those interested in supporting the fair trade movement with metro area fair trade retailers, and some online fair trade retailers as well. The page has been active for about 3 months now, and it has roughly 800 followers so far. It has been very encouraging to see my neighbors embracing fair trade and its values like justice, mercy and empathy so enthusiastically! Zumbido ATL will be more than a retail store, however. Thanks to inspiration from our friends at Focused Community Strategies (FCS) and their program at the South Atlanta Bike Shop, Zumbido ATL will also be a place where young people from our community can spend time learning retail and customer service skills, in addition to learning about the various cultures represented by the goods we carry. By volunteering, not only will they be able to learn valuable skills and information. They also will earn points redeemable for any merchandise we carry. The goal is for Zumbido ATL to be a real community gathering place where beautiful things happen to be on sale, with sales benefitting people less fortunate than ourselves worldwide.

What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
I don’t really believe in luck. I believe in God’s grace and redemption 100 per cent. I’m not someone who says everything happens for a reason. I believe that God’s heart breaks for suffering and the ways we harm one another and ourselves. I also believe that God’s power can find a way to bring something good out of bad. Looking back, I can see that the circumstances of my early years grew a heart of compassion and empathy in me. My physical restrictions and limitations (in my youth and adulthood, respectively) fostered a love of learning about faraway places I could escape to in my mind. The isolation that has dotted the timeline of my existence has taught me to crave community, and to rejoice at the chance to nurture it. The opportunities I’ve had to reflect on the Lord’s goodness to me, even before I believed in God, have led me to want to pour into others the way that friends and mentors have poured into me throughout my life. The perfect site for the store became available just one short year after my miraculous spontaneous and unexpected physical healing took place. Did I mention how wonderful it is that the store will be less than two blocks from The Villages at Carver YMCA and local library branch, not to mention next door to Langford Park?

I’m really delighted to be part of the Southside of ATL. A couple of months ago there was a conversation on Nextdoor about how the majority of new stores we see opening in this area of the city are dollar stores. Neighbors were expressing frustration and disappointment over the trend. It is exciting to go against that current and offer something that is not available anywhere else in the ATL to our all of the city right here! I am convinced that many fair trade items need to be seen in person and physically handled for their quality and artistry to be fully felt. A brick and mortar store will allow that full sensory experience that just can’t be had when shopping online. The store had been under contract to purchase our site (1651 Pryor Rd SW, at the corner of Pryor and Thornton bordering Joyland and The Villages at Carver) for about two months when the city announced its acquisition of the land for the Southside Beltline trail. One of my dreams had been to establish a fair trade festival for Atlanta giving everyone the chance to see merchandise carried by local fair trade retailers – who currently sell mostly online – live and in person. It’s thrilling to think that in the future our fair trade festival may take place literally next door, where people from all over the city can travel using the Beltline!

That being said, I want to be a good neighbor, not just a business owner. Right now I live in Chosewood Park, which is a little under two miles from the store site. I’m working with an amazing local architect, Allyson McCarthy of Turco McCarthy Architecture & Design, to design the store as live/work space. The plan is for my dogs and I to move in as soon as the space is ready. Many of my friends have been hurt by gentrification in the ATL and elsewhere. I see community as the antithesis of gentrification. It is vitally important to me that my store positively enrich the lives of its immediate neighbors, who I hope will continue to be my neighbors for a long, long time to come. I want Zumbido ATL to be a warm, welcoming place where people are happy to come and pass the time in conversation. That’s the rationale behind the retail space being designed to mimic a home. Merchandise will (hopefully) be displayed as it would “live” in the shopper’s home. There will be comfortable seating for conversation. Of course, I hope people will want to buy the gifts and art we sell, but I also want them to know they are welcome if they need a place just to relax and breathe in beautiful surroundings. I hope any of the young people who volunteer will find their time well spent, and really look forward to coming to the store the way I looked forward to volunteering when I was in school. The place where I volunteered is the place where I learned to laugh, and probably where I first felt valued for just being myself. Those experiences are important to share.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1651 Pryor Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30315
  • Website: zumbidoatl.com
  • Email: zumbidoatl@gmail.com

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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