Imagine being someone from any country in the world in need of an encouraging message and receiving one from a total stranger - in the mail.
That’s exactly what the Sault’s Sarah Lewis wants to put into motion with the launch of her business known as 4the Love.
She wants people from the Sault and elsewhere to reach out through her online business, purchase cheerfully worded, printed greetings and send them to people residing at randomly picked addresses anywhere in the world.
Those receiving the greetings would open their mail and read the 'message in the bottle' – the 'bottle,' in this case, being a clear plastic vial.
Call it a ‘message in a bottle’ approach to performing random acts of kindness, Lewis said, speaking to SooToday.
Lewis’ idea came after SooToday shared the story of how she and stepson Wyatt, 10, launched a ‘pay-what-you-can snowman building service’ last winter to cheer up those feeling blue during COVID-19 lockdowns.
A portion of the earnings from her snowman business, $1,078, went to SickKids Foundation.
“When the snow started melting, we were kind of bummed out we couldn’t make people’s day any more so we tried to figure out how we could replicate it,” Lewis told us.
In time, Lewis came up with what she is calling her message in a bottle idea.
She has ordered 100,000 ‘bottles’ to contain the printed, cheer-up messages at considerable expense.
“I’ve invested a lot,” Lewis chuckled.
“We’re ready to rock. Our website and business launched not quite a week ago, and now we’re just trying to put it out to the world that it’s been a work in progress since the snowman business, and we’ve finally gotten it to a point where we can start making people’s day again.”
Anyone wanting to send a message in a bottle can go to the 4the Love website and pay to send a greeting using your credit card, with varying, reasonable delivery rates available for Canada, the U.S. and international destinations.
There’s also the option to pay for a customized greeting.
“You just click on whatever you want to add to your ‘shopping bag,’ you go through your payment details, it comes to me and I send them out. It’s that easy,” Lewis said.
“When you just opt to send one to a random address, we generate the message. The majority of the business is based on random acts of kindness, so most of them will be a randomly generated address. For people who want to send one out to somebody specific at a specific address they can either opt for us to compose the message or they can compose it themselves.”
Lewis said a local printing company is helping with production of the paper greetings.
“It’s extremely quick and easy. Because everybody is so busy, it’s a way to make everybody’s good deed of the day or a random act of kindness easier to do, for more people to be able to do it and make somebody’s day,” Lewis said.
“I’ve tried to keep it as affordable as possible so that we can impact more lives.”
“It’s definitely the first of its kind. There are other message in a bottle services, but they are more for things like Valentine’s Day and they’re not comparable in price. They don’t have the same ‘mission,’ so they’re $50 to $120 for something like a birthday or anniversary gift,” Lewis said.
Unlike Lewis’ snowman business, in which half the money earned went to the SickKids Foundation, 4the Love is all about business while making people all over the world smile.
“We’re looking to make it doable and keep the price low. We’re looking to just make enough money to keep it going. It’s more about the mission, making people’s day better all over the world, hopefully not before another lockdown. There have been long lasting effects from the pandemic, and I’m just looking to bring smiles back to people’s faces,” Lewis said.
“I had so much fun with the snowman business. I waited my whole life to figure out how I could make a living just by making people’s day better. I’m far from being a comedian and making people laugh, but the snowman business really launched me into what I wanted to do. I had so much fun seeing everybody smile and hearing their positive feedback and comments. It launched me into this.”
Lewis said she intends to continue with 4the Love after selling the first 100,000 bottles.
“We hope to go viral," she stated, adding she would like to see a million bottles sent out.
Lewis said never minimize the power of receiving a surprise message of encouraging words.
“You never know the power of the perfectly timed message. You could even save a life. You never know what people are going through. It could change a life for sure.”