When she retired in 2021 after 34 years as a teacher — including 2 decades with Bedford Middle School’s Workshop program for gifted students — Kerstin Rao did not slow down.
Nearly 40 years after leaving art behind for a career in education, she created a small business. Vivid Cottage is an online shop for art, stationery, home goods and gifts.
She also blogs, hoping to inspire other woman-owned businesses. Whenever she can, she shares uplifting stories.
Like this one, about the power of giving back, and giving thanks.
Though her expenses still exceed her income, Kerstin never misses a chance to help children in need.
When she drew a sunflower bouquet the same day Russia invaded Ukraine — and then learned that sunflowers are a symbol of that embattled nation’s identity — she knew she could do something for Ukrainian children and families.
She designed sunflower-themed individual and boxed cards, and tea towels.
At the end of June she sent 10% of the profits — and a hand-written card explaining the “sunflower” concept — to Save the Children, the international organization long headquartered on Wilton Road, now in Fairfield.
Whatever goes around, comes around.
A few days later Kerstin received her own note.
Save the Children CEO Janti Soeripto thanked Kerstin warmly for her contribution. She added:
I wish you all the best in your young venture. Your inviting website is very creative and I have no doubt that through it and the many places your work has exposure around the region, your enterprise will grow like the lovely flowers portrayed in your products.
Kerstin — who calls herself a “little” CEO — was thrilled to hear from her big” counterpart.
But the big CEO was thrilled to be the recipient of such a thoughtful donation.
It takes a village to save the children, for sure.
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