Nir graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Social Thought and Political Economy – an interdisciplinary program of social, political and behavioral sciences – on fire to put his ideals into action to benefit the larger community and fully unaware of the wholesale bead industry.
But his volunteer first-job-out-of-school for a bead wholesaler owned in part by a non-profit opened his eyes to a then-startling revelation – building a ethical, profitable business could be a path to the impact and change he desired. For the ten years of Nir’s involvement, Nirvana Beads and its’ predecessors have made significant donations to non-profit projects with global outreach.
The self-described “awkward kid” who “lacked confidence in myself” said the initial idea of attempting sales terrified him. “But it brought me out socially. Needing to connect with people in that way pushed me past my boundaries,” he recalled. It also uncovered a natural talent for the art and science of commerce that has kept Nirvana on a steady course of enlightened growth.
Twice a year, Nirvana launches new product and sends out it’s sales team to bead stores from coast to coast. Every time Nir loses sleep wondering if this will be the year the falling numbers of bead shops will slow the momentum the company has so carefully crafted. Yet every year his dedication, innovation and commitment fuels solid returns – and greater contributions to Nirvana’s non-profit recipients.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in international wholesale bead orders as Shanti further refines our online operations,” Nir said. He feels a strong sense of commitment to the bead stores, teachers, designers and professional beaders who have built the his business – and continue to build and support the beading community.
“Bead shops are the public libraries of beading. They introduce new beaders to the art and provide community and shared knowledge in a way that simply can’t be replicated through digital media,” he said. Nir still takes his share of bead shop visits for Nirvana’s bi-annual sales trips covering 48 states and talks to shop owners about the challenges they face daily. As he has from the first, he listens and adapts Nirvana’s offerings to best meet their needs.
Nir backs up Nirvana’s financial contributions with a personal commitment of time and leadership to significant non-profit projects in his home community – another extension of the skills discovered and obtained through his unexpected business journey.
If pressed, Nir and designer/webmaster/photographer Shanti will both quietly admit that at times it can be a challenge to live and work together all the time. Yet, when they can make the time to get away from it all they do it together, travelling to new and familiar destinations around the world – as well as their annual visit to their bead manufacturing community in the Czech Republic. Neither notes an irony in getting away by going to the primary supplier of their business.
“Everything is connected,” Nir said. “It requires more work than being in someone’s employ. But we have the ability to make the decisions, control our lives and support the things most important to us.”