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Joy Kolin and Greer Goodman

While Joy Kolin, founder of Giving Joy, set up shop at the Sommerville Bow Market in 2019, a worker approached her, pointing her in the direction of another pop-up selling unique items sourced from abroad. 

“That was Greer,” Joy smiles.

Greer Goodman and Joy Kolin learned very quickly that their skills not only complimented each other, but could also be used as leverage to make each other stronger. Since meeting in 2020, the women have become not just business partners, but also friends— although they come from 2 very different worlds.

Greer’s background lies in design and retail. She worked as a buyer and merchandiser at a children’s store for several years, and it was clear to her that she wanted to open her own shop. Abroad Modern was born out of her love for travel and meeting new people, as well as her desire to define herself outside of her family, for which she served as “chief engineer” for their multiple moves across the United States.

Joy, similarly, has a love for travel. Having worked in International Development for the past 20 years, she has traveled to 61 countries, and counting, on a mission to promote peace and uplift women. Wanting to really see and feel the impact she was making, Joy opened Giving Joy to award micro-grants to women around the globe; she funded it by selling items she found in countries around the globe. The only issue? 

“Retail is really not my thing,” says Joy. 

Greer and Joy met at the Sommerville Bow Market in Massachusetts, and while it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight, the partnership they formed thereafter would transform both of their lives forever. 

To see how they worked together, Greer and Joy made a plan to travel abroad in February 2020 to source items for a joint holiday collection. But, the pandemic swiftly threw a wrench into those plans.

“I guess we’re not going anywhere,” Greer laughed. 

Instead, the women decided to enter an agreement in which Giving Joy would redirect their business to Abroad Modern, and the founders would leverage their existing supply chains in Africa and India to put together their holiday collection. In doing so, Joy would have more time to focus on the micro-grants, and Greer could handle the retail side of things. 

As you may have guessed, that first partnership was a success. Although Greer and Joy have been working together for less than 2 years, the impact that they have had on each other’s lives is tangible. 

“I couldn’t have re-opened the brick and mortar shop without Joy,” Greer says. “I have 2 kids at home who are still in fully remote school, and I’m with them, like, 29 hours every day. I was finally putting myself up front… I really thought I was going to lose that, and I really would’ve if it weren’t for Joy.”

Joy chimes in, “I kept on telling Greer, you give me hope. Because Greer knew to do things that I just didn’t know how,” she explains. “That’s one of the lessons that I’ve learned… don’t be ashamed to ask for help.”

Joy continues, “Listening, talking and communicating on a regular basis is so important, that, and not being passive-aggressive. There was one time when there were some things I didn’t like on a postcard that [Greer] made, and I said ‘oh, it doesn’t matter.’ And [Greer] said ‘no, it does matter.’ and I really appreciated that it mattered.”

“There’s real benefit [to collaboration],” Greer responds, “it keeps you on your A game.”

Today, Greer and Joy are 50-50 partners at Abroad Modern, and Giving Joy is becoming a non-profit, for which Greer will be on the board.  

“Did I ever think I would be doing this? No,” Joy admits. “But I kind of like retail now, and being a small business owner.”

On April 26th, 2021, tune into GNL programming to live shop Abroad Modern: click here to sign up!