Through one of the organizations from which I receive review books, I received a press release about a product called Mend Mark. It's a rubberband-like bracelet with a goal of reminding us of Christ's sacrifice in order to remind us to love others. The bracelet looks (and feels like a bracelet) with two small circles on opposite ends that when worn, remind me of the stigmata. Further, some of the proceeds benefit Living Water International to provide clean water to people around the world.
I loved the idea, and so I was able to get one to review. The first thing I noticed was that it was smaller than it looks in the pictures. This is actually a good thing because it makes it subtler and more ambiguous, which I like. As the creator, Hunter Harrison, noted, his goal was to make something that people would have to ask about to know the meaning (rather than assuming the meaning). As this blog often emphasizes the problems with assumptions, I like this idea. Plus, personally, I tend to like subtle symbols.
Despite it being subtle, it was unique enough that a few of my co-workers noticed it and asked about it. They all thought it was awesome. One wrote down the website to look into getting one. This could make the bracelet a nice way to evangelize, both to non-Christians and Christians (it's important to remind everyone to love everyone more!). One of my colleagues thought it was a tattoo at first. This is interesting because Harrison made this in place of getting a tattoo.
Wearing it did help me remember to be present and focus on Christ and loving others. The bracelet is also embossed with "Remember Love," one word on each of the circles. The words were rather small, making them more of a subtle reminder than a blaring bullhorn of a symbol. This made it a great contemplative tool to be present in the moment, recalling Christ's sacrifice, and remembering to always love others. These are, of course, excellent things to focus on.
Now to the downsides. It was rather tight. I definitely had a red mark after wearing it. But it didn't hurt. A little extra space would be nice, though. Unfortunately, as I took it off my wrist after the first day of wearing it, I stretched it too much, and it snapped. The packaging reminds users to not stretch the bracelet too much. I was surprised how easily it broke, though. I would have needed to roll it over my hand rather than stretching it over. Considering the popularity of the Silly Bandz (and just experiences with generic rubber bands), I'm sure another form of material could make it more elastic (or maybe make different sizes).
If I had purchased one at $9.99, I would have been very upset (I'm sad anyway, as I would really like to wear it regularly for quite a while--if anyone has ideas how to mend the Mend Mark, let me know). Honestly, it seems quite over-priced. I doubt the manufacturing costs much (again, look at the number of Silly Bandz and their generic forms that come in packages that much less). The impact cost is offset a bit by the fact that proceeds do help a great organization. But still. The packaging was incredibly impressive and possibly cost more than the product itself. Making a cheaper package could have reduced the cost much more.
Considering the ease with which it broke, I doubt I will purchase a new one. If it were of higher quality or cheaper, I'd consider it. It's a great idea that really helped me be present and remember to love others... for a day. But lasting only a day isn't so good. Maybe a fabric elastic attached to two circles so they stay firm to the wrist could achieve the same purpose while not being as tight and being sturdier...
UPDATE 12/3/10: I heard back from the person who sent me the review copies, and she said that she has not encountered any other incidents of the bracelet breaking, so mine is hopefully an isolated incident. She is also sending me a replacement, which I would hope they would do in other circumstances, too. :)
In any case, I also received a Mend Mark to give away here on the blog. In order to enter, leave a comment saying why you would like a Mend Mark. You can get additional entries by (1) following me on Twitter, (2) retweeting my Tweet about this post, and (3) subscribing to my blog by email or RSS. Leave a comment on the blog letting me know you did these (if you already follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my blog, that counts). The contest will close on Friday at midnight. I will need a way to contact you, so either leave your email address, subscribe to the comments feed, or check back here.
If you would like to know more about Mend Mark, below is a Q&A with the creator from the press release.
Q&A With Hunter Harrison,
Creator of the Mend Mark
Q: How did you arrive at the idea for the Mend Mark? Why a bracelet?
A: I always thought about getting a tattoo. I still haven’t, but tattoo designs frequently cross my mind, and if I ever got one I would want it to be meaningful. On one particular day, I had the idea of getting two circles tattooed on my wrist to resemble a hole. But not just any hole—the hole that killed a king. The more and more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that nowadays EVERYONE has a tattoo and it would almost be rebellious NOT to get one. (I guess you could consider me a reverse rebel.) So I decided to do something a little different, something that would reach many more people than just some ink on my wrist. I took the idea and designed a bracelet instead, and consequently, the Mend Mark idea was born.
Q: At first glance Mend Mark seems like a nebulous name. What does it mean?
A: I’ve always liked the word “mend” and I feel like it’s underused. So it was an easy decision to incorporate that into the name. It fit the product purpose, and since it was representing one of the marks of Jesus, Mend Mark was an obvious choice. Plus it had a nice ring to it and with tattoo roots it seemed natural to call it that. I wanted it to be more than just another bracelet or wristband. I wanted it to represent a movement. So the “Mend Mark” it became.
Q: What are you hoping will be accomplished through the wearing of the Mend Mark bracelet and through the Mend Mark movement?
A: There are three main things I want to be accomplished. First is that I wanted people to remember the sacrifice. I wanted to unite people—Christians (no matter the denomination) and even people of other worldviews—on one common message: LOVE. The love that Christ preached in particular. With so many books out there and theological debates on who’s right and who’s wrong, sometimes we forget the simplicity of Christ’s main message: LOVE. I figured that no matter what one believes, they can’t deny that selfless love can change the world… and sometimes we need a reminder of that. So I coined the phrase “Remember Love” to be printed on the bracelet. The second thing is that I wanted people to emulate the emotion. I wanted it to require the wearer of the product to engage in conversation about the love of Christ (and hopefully show that love to others) instead of just letting the product talk for them. I felt that if this was done properly it could force people into intentional situations where they were able to demonstrate their faith. If I was a non-believer and I saw someone wearing an obvious Christian product, I doubt I would ask that person about it because I would already know what they were going to say. But, if I saw this, I would want to know what it was. It sparks curiosity… and in turn that curiosity may open some doors for people to share the love of Christ with others. Finally, I wanted it to inspire people to change the world around them. I decided to find a cause to support through the sales of the bracelet. There was no reason for me to keep all the profits for myself. I wanted to be able to give back and share the proceeds somehow. I researched and prayed and petitioned God on what ministry to support and God led me to Living Water International. I knew I wanted to help fight malnourishment in one way or another and providing “Living Water” seemed to fit the purpose of the product—using “love” to mend. That’s what it’s all about and this product allows that to happen on a global scale.
Q: Where did the inspiration to create the Mend Mark come from?
A: My mother was the most influential person in my life. She raised me on her own, even homeschooled me in high school, and I think that extra time with her really impacted me. She passed away from cancer in 2007, but she always told me I would do great things. My wife, Morgan, has been extremely instrumental in encouraging me to take those words from my mom to heart and make them a reality. Morgan motivates me like no one else can and has been a tremendous source of love and support throughout the entire process.
Then my work in banking inspired me. All day long I am helping people achieve their dreams getting businesses and ideas started. I wanted to get out there and start doing something myself. But I wanted it to be meaningful. Since my son was born two years ago, he’s given me an added motivation to do something bigger than myself, something that will somehow leave a legacy behind.
Q: The Mend Mark is certainly growing as a movement. It’s even been worn by celebrities. What’s next for the MendMark?
A: The Mend Mark isn’t the first idea I’ve tried to get off the ground. It definitely won’t be the last either. By far, it’s been the most fun and the most successful, and the one I’ve been most passionate about. I’m currently working on additional product designs as well as T-shirts that will go along with the original Mend Mark purpose. The future is bright and I can’t wait to see where God takes it.