The dress patterns were the idea of a magazine ad salesman named Joseph Shapiro in 1927. Up until then, they could only be found in women’s magazines like McCall’s. Women would buy the magazine, and then send away for a pattern that might cost as much as 25 cents. Shapiro’s idea was to bring those patterns into the stores where customers could sort through them, pick the one they liked, and then pay just 10 cents. They not only got the pattern immediately and for significantly less, they could also likely buy the material for the pattern at the same store. That was a win for the customer, a win for the store, and a win for the company that produced the patterns. And so the Simplicity Pattern Company was born.
|Image by Maatkare from Pixabay|
Shapiro and his eighteen year old son, immigrants from Byelorussia, soon dominated the home-sewing market. At its peak in the 1970's, the Simplicity Pattern Company employed four thousand people, had its own paper mill and printing operations, factories in several countries, twenty thousand outlets in the U.S. alone, and sold more than 150 million patterns a year.
All this out of a simple idea: let’s put the patterns in the stores and cut the price. The key, of course, was that this simple idea made a huge difference for the people that mattered most: the customers. How come the magazines themselves didn't think of this? The status quo was working very well for them. Why would they want to change it? It took someone on the periphery to be able to see what was going on and come up with a better way.
Which raises the question: is there someone in our lives who can serve that same function? Someone close enough to see what is going on, but outsider enough to have a clear perspective? We need people who can be that Joseph Shapiro: able to see a better path to follow; and who care enough to let us know when we've gotten into a rut, or started heading down a dead-end road.
Great leaders make sure they have such voices around them. So do great Christians. We know that we are imperfect. We know we are prone to sin. We know we need sisters and brothers around us who can speak the truth into our lives. Jesus can certainly do that. Scripture can do it. But more often than not, it is these others that God uses to help us along the way. Have you found some people to make the journey with you? It all goes with being part of Christ’s body in this world.
“So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25)