"He has shown me what true joy looks like through the lives of those who have nothing."
People often ask me, "How did you get into this business?" While the question is fairly simple, the answer is not.
Go Fish was not something I had planned. I was simply a young man, trying to do something good with my life, even if, at the time, I felt like that something was small. In 1985, a friend of mine invited me to go on my first mission trip to Peru, and I felt that maybe I could be of some help. I went to serve a specific group of people in a particular village, and when I was finished, I thought my “mission” was complete.
On the last day of my trip, I was simply walking through a market, trying to waste some time before my flight. I was preparing to leave Peru for the comforts of home, I walked around the small market for a few hours, watching and taking in the sights and sounds of this foreign land I had grown to love in such a short time. While I was there, I saw many things I had not expected in such a poor country, including the beautiful and unique items being made by the poorest of the poor. I was amazed at the level of talent they had, as well as their desire for the chance to sell their goods. No one was asking for a handout. They just wanted an opportunity. That was beautiful, but I also saw something very ugly.
There were many tourists and business people from all over the world interacting with the locals. I watched as men, women, and children tried to capture the attention of just a few foreigners, hoping that someone would give them a glance and that someone would buy what they had made. These visitors had never known what it was like to go to sleep hungry, and they were arguing the prices with the poor. I witnessed these poorest of the poor being forced to sell what they had made for a fraction of what it was worth, just to put food in the mouths of their children.
I felt angry, and, after thinking I had done all my “good deeds” in the name of Christ, I felt something new. On this day where all I was wanting to do was to travel back home to my family, I knew God was telling me something, that I was never to take advantage of His poor, and that I was supposed to do something about what I was seeing. At that moment, God was giving me a vision of a business that would glorify Him and impact the lives of many.
This was very early in my faith, but looking back at this event and the many, many more that have transpired sense, as a person of faith, I have come to believe that Jesus Christ directs my steps in ways that I could never have imagined, even when I am seemingly not paying attention.
Sense then, I have had the privilege of working with and being involved in the lives of people in countries around the world. From a small jungle village in Indonesia to one of the driest deserts on the globe in Northern Peru, God has given me a glimpse into His world and the people He cares for so much. He has shown me what true joy looks like through the lives of those who have nothing. I believe He has caused me to consider those whom He has put into my path as people who have great worth, even when others do not see it, people who have so much love and talent to share. He was asking me to care about the things and people that He cares about.
So this is Go Fish. We are not a Christian company. We are a company that understands our call as Christians and believe "as we have the opportunity, [we must] do good to all people" (Galatians 6:10).
My wife, Barbara, and I opened our first Go Fish store in Pensacola, FL, in 1987. Our company purchases most of the items we sell from the indigenous people of developing nations. We never argue a price or take advantage of the poor, but always give them the dignity and respect of buying these handcrafted goods at their asking price. All we ask in return is consistent quality. We have established meaningful long-term relationships with many families and individuals. Through the efforts of Go Fish staff, store partners, and customers, the lives of many of these people have changed for the better.
In 2004, we chose to open other locations and currently have seven stores, in two states. Our franchises and partnerships are based on the premise that we can use our life experiences, skills, and jobs for the benefit of God’s people.
-Curt Coleman, Founder
Go Fish Clothing and Jewelry, Inc.