How Whales Inspired Her to Start an Ethical Business | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 227: Kelsey Waliszewski, Moi Moi Market
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Have you ever wished it could be easier to find and purchase products of purpose? Have you ever wanted to really know how your dollar is helping to bring hope and healing to an individual or community’s life? My guest today is on a mission to do just that. Kelsey Waliszewski is the founder of Moi Moi Market , an online marketplace that makes it easy for people to find and buy products that help women out of sexual exploitation, provide clean water, build schools, and clean up our oceans. She is also the host of the Talking Story Podcast , a podcast that shares stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, hoping to give the listener tools to positively impact their community and use their life for purpose. Her cohost is her dad, Bob Waliszewski, who is also the retired Focus on the Family Plugged In movie director. Kelsey is an avid kiteboarder, triathlete, and boat captain for a whale watch operation on the Big Island in Hawaii. Kelsey’s love for challenge and adventure is a huge part of who she is. Kelsey is so much fun and I learned so much I didn’t know before this chat! Join me to learn from Kelsey Waliszewski!
4:53 – The Kelsey 101
- Kelsey is the founder of Moi Moi Marketplace, a market that sells products with purpose to make it was for people to purchase with purpose. Their main emphasis is the issue of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. They collect products that combat sex trafficking as well as products that help build schools and provide clean water. They believe that there is power in our dollar.
- Kelsey is originally from Colorado and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii in 2009. For almost a decade, she’s been a boat captain and business manager of a whale watching operation. If you’re wondering what this has to do with a business with purpose, keep reading/listening!
- Pre-Covid, Kelsey got to take guests out whale-watching and they always try to include interesting facts about the whales to share with the boat guests. One day a humpback whale fact came across Kelsey’s desk that showed humpback whales are the one of the few species that are altruistic. They show compassion and there have been cases where a humpback whale with rescue another species being attacked by a predator. There are 115 documented cases of this!
- As Kelsey started to share this with the guests, her heart started to change and saw the example in humpback whales setting an example that humans are also called to be altruistic. The message on the boat started to change to motivate and inspire people that they can be world changers too.
- It requires sacrifice and many of us don’t like to recognize that aspect of altruism. It’s doing something for another with no benefit to yourself. When the humpback whales intervene on behalf of another species, they risk injury themselves. Kelsey credits them as her inspiration with starting her off on her journey with Moi Moi Market and Talking Story Podcast.
10:32 – Hawaii Becomes Home
- Kelsey came to Hawaii in 2009 with her now ex-husband to work with kids on the east side of Big Island. When she and her husband divorced, Kelsey went through a difficult season of trying to decide if she would stay on the island or go home. She decided to stay.
- In the process of her divorce, God connected Kelsey to someone in just a 5-minute business transaction. After that, the person called her out of the blue to tell Kelsey that she was praying for her and that God has a message that she is loved and God has a plan for her. Literally 5 minutes before that call, a judge called Kelsey to tell her the divorce was finalized. The message came through exactly when Kelsey needed it.
- God started to redirect the life plan Kelsey thought she’d figured out for herself. When she was very young, she wanted to become a marine biologist, and later she thought she might be a youth pastor. But then God presented the boat captain job. It came full circle in a way Kelsey never could have imagined. Her work with whale watching humpback whales led to a deep dive into the idea of altruism, which led to her work to help trafficking victims.
16:39 – Moi Moi Market, Podcast, Education
- In 2015 on the Big Island, there was a headline about a man who had been arrested for trafficking his own family members. Big Island woke up to the tragic truth that sex trafficking happens and even on their island. There’s also a high rate of poverty on the island, and people are trafficking their own family to fund addiction or even just pay the bills.
- Kelsey started to volunteer with an organization on the island that helps victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii. By 2018, Kelsey had the opportunity to visit Southeast Asia to visit her friend, Jenny McGee, who started Starfish Project, a jewelry business that employs former prostitutes and provides a safe escape from prostitution. Check out Jenny’s Business with Purpose podcast visit here!
- When Kelsey first heard of Jenny’s project in 2007, she wrote in her journal that she wanted to help Jenny sell more jewelry so she could help more women. In 2018 when she visited Jenny, she learned more about what they did and made arrangements to visit brothels and build friendships with the women she met. Once she saw it first hand with her own eyes, she told Jenny she wasn’t just there to write an article about Starfish Project, but that she was there to start a business.
- In the summer of 2018, Kelsey came back to the Big Island and started Moi Moi Market. They’ve found so many companies, organizations, and brands who are doing amazing things and Moi Moi Market want to get that information out to as many people as they possibly can. Moi Moi Market takes care of the marketing aspect for businesses so that they can focus on the healing and restoration of the people in front of them.
- In addition to the market, Kelsey has a podcast called Talking Story Podcast to share stories of altruism like that of Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck from the book I’ll Push You. They are also starting a university in Hawaii to emphasize social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, missions, and community development. They truly believe in training the next generation to understand ethical business.
- With help from Bethel University, they want to make a Christian education more accessible to students and meet them where they are. The classes will be attended online, but the key for the program’s success will still be community. There will be mentorship, bible studies, practicums and internships, and they are offering a 2-year or 4-year accredited course. They are starting with just 10 students in order to focus on quality and connection, catering to just that small group in 2021.
30:00 – Healing with Horses
- Kelsey also works with a local Hawaiian nonprofit to provide a home with comprehensive therapeutic services for female underage victims rescued from sexual exploitation as well as a nonprofit helping children in unique therapy programs. It’s called Heart Ranch.
- Heart Ranch is a Christian program that partners students with a horse to allow healing. Kelsey has been volunteering with them for about 7 years, and they’ve also been on her podcast. You can listen to that episode here.
- They’ve been able to bring survivors or PTSD. The program is open to all teenagers. We can’t always know what’s going on inside their world and the program opens doors to allow them to express their emotions or bond with the horses. It’s also preventative connection to help them through difficult transitions from children to teenager to adult.
35:50 – A Vision for the Next 10 Years
- Travel has been such a huge influence in Kelsey’s journey. She’d like to start educational trips (not mission trips) when it’s safe to do so. They want to learn with humble hearts to help people understand with their own eyes just how powerful it is to shop ethically.
- Many communities thrive in ethical tourism industries, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do ethical tourism. Kelsey would also like to offer ethical tourism in a way that supports and understands the local community providing the experience.
- There are many branches to Moi Moi Market. It’s a community that Kelsey hopes to continue growing under the umbrella of Moi Moi Market through ethical shopping, connection, education, and something called the Moi Moi Mailbox. It allows you to send a postcard to anyone you want for free. It’s all about loving one another.
40:45 – Getting to Know Our Guest
- Find out what song Kelsey has to sing along with whenever she hears it, what she would eat if she had to eat the same thing for dinner every night, her favorite movie to watch when she was growing up, and of course, what it means to Kelsey to run a business with purpose!
5:40 – “It’s so easy for us to point and say ‘This person’s doing it wrong and why is this issue happening in our world?’ when we really have the power to change the world one dollar at a time.”
9:15 – “We are called to intervene on other people’s behalf with our time, resources, and money.”
23:44 – “We want to empower people to use their lives (like the humpback whales) to intervene on other people’s behalf.”
About Kelsey Waliszewski, Moi Moi Market:
Kelsey Waliszewski is the founder of Moi Moi Market, a one stop shop for products of purpose and host of The Talking Story Podcast, where we share stories behind the products in which we sell. Our market focuses on helping women out of sexual exploitation, providing clean water, building schools, and cleaning up our oceans. In her previous job as a boat captain on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kelsey was inspired by the humpback whale’s compassion for other animals. They, the humpback whales, intervene on other species behalf when they are being attacked by killer whales, and the many times they have done this they risk getting injured or hurt. But yet there are 115 documented cases of humpback’s altruistic nature. That form of altruism has inspired Kelsey to live her life and inspire others to intervene on other people’s behalf, whether it is our time, resources, and or money. She has traveled the world gathering stories and products that make a difference in the lives of others and hopes to provide the tools for other’s to use their lives to impact the planet in a positive way. www.moimoimarket.com
University program: www.buhawaii.com
Thank you to our partners of the show:
Did you know I have an ethical brand directory? That’s what Chelsea used to start finding products for her boutique almost four years ago! Now, Amma’s Umma carries over 50 intentionally sourced brands and is the perfect one stop shop for all your gift giving needs. As a thank you to the Still Being Molly community, she is offering 20% off with code SHOPWITHMOLLY. Head to shopwithmolly.com for all the details.
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The Lemonade Boutique
This episode is sponsored by The Lemonade Boutique, a women’s clothing with a cause store. Featuring ethically made and fair trade items from over 10 countries, every item is made by women facing extreme challenges such as trafficking, poverty, and more. Your purchase empowers women to take life’s lemons and make lemonade. Shop at THELemonadeBoutique.com. Listeners of the Business with Purpose Podcast can save 15% by using code PURPOSE15 at checkout.
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