No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop
We are Melissa Brooks and Jillian Darling! We met more than 10 years ago when our daughters were in nursery school and developed a strong friendship based on our shared interests in art, travel, and food and common values of kindness, truth, and humility.
In 2016, those values led us to become part of a group studying the reasons why people are migrating across the Southwestern border of the United States. We learned about the history, politics, trade, environmental, and economic factors that led to the current situation.
The study culminated in a trip to Tucson, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico, to meet and hear firsthand from the people living and working on both sides of the border. The experience was life-changing. Witnessing the kindness expressed on both sides of the border to the migrants, and to the workers along that border, deeply impacted our thinking.
Despite the ongoing disagreement about what “to do” at the border, our overwhelming takeaway from the experience was simply this: Kindness matters. Kindness transcends differences and has a positive, powerful impact on both the recipient and giver. It is our humanity that makes our communities strong—and choosing and promoting kindness makes everyone’s world better.
After our experiences at the border, we decided it was time to put our interests and values into action, and Serve Kindness was created in the Fall of 2017. For us, art and nature go hand-in-hand. Many of our earliest and best ideas for Serve Kindness were conceived during shared long walks in nature. In the great outdoors, inspiration is all around—with every shade of every color beautifully represented. In the end, it was a simple decision to choose a hand-blown glass bowl as our first product. It’s nature at work—heating sand to high temperatures to create the glass and then choosing colors from the palette of the great outdoors.
Serve Kindness is about more than just offering a beautiful product. We want to create a ripple effect, and we strive to build strong relationships in our community. We work with local master glass-blowers in Essex, Massachusetts to create our hand-blown glass bowls. And we seek out partnerships with established charities who work tirelessly to serve kindness in their communities and who benefit from every Serve Kindness purchase. Intentional gift giving is a simple act and with every purchase of our glass bowls, you’re giving back to deserving organizations, offering help and hope to everyone these organizations serve, and spreading kindness from our tables to our hearts and throughout our communities.
After a childhood immersed in art and culture, it seemed natural to embark on a professional life working in the art world. I have worked in galleries and an international auction house.
After graduating from Lake Forest College with a BA in Art History, I was the Art Handler in the Impressionist and Modern Art Department at Christie’s, New York where I catalogued and prepared works for sale and managed the logistics of moving art from the warehouse to the sales floor.
My next adventure took me to The Pace Gallery, also in New York, where, as Archivist and Special Projects Coordinator, I worked with artists represented by the gallery, including Saul Steinberg, George Condo, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, and the Estate of Ad Reinhardt. Following the gallery, I worked on the Catalogue Raisonne of Alexander Calder as an Archivist.
These varied experiences afforded me a great appreciation for artwork, but also it enhanced the deeper meaning that is revealed when personal relationships with artists are formed.
Since leaving the New York art world for Massachusetts, I’ve spent the majority of my time raising my three children. They have taught me that there is no such thing as too much kindness—even the smallest gesture can make a difference.
Serve Kindness allows me to merge my interests in art and artists with the practical act of spreading kindness. I see this business as a way to pass on my unique perspective and share the many lessons that life has taught me so far.
I grew up practicing the arts: dancing, drawing, and painting. I loved not only the practice of each, but also the idea of being a beginner and developing new skills.
Monk and teacher Shunryu Suzuki wrote, “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few.” I first heard this quote in a yoga class. It helped me break through old ways of thinking, embrace the world of possibilities, taught me humility, and brought me joy.
My passion for “possibilities” translated to a professional life spent working in startups in human disease research, non-profit management, and financial technology. I started as Project Manager and Research Associate, hired early on as the second employee of Exelixis Pharmaceuticals and tasked with leading one of their flagship programs.
I served as Executive Director of Friends of Young Achievers helping to establish the fundraising arm of the Young Achievers Science & Mathematics Pilot School and raise funds for STEM education and opportunities. Following this experience, I became Director of Administration for What’s What, a startup devoted to creating a safe online community for kids using facial recognition.
As Senior VP of Customer Experience for True Office (bought by NYSE in 2014) and later Director of Product Development for True Office Learning, I led a team to design, develop, pilot, and market an online interactive learning and analytics platform.
The unifying theme in my professional work was approaching unsolved problems with a beginner’s mind. By teaming with experts, I helped create programs and products that benefit humankind.
I am immensely proud of my past professional work but found myself craving a more creative and service-oriented life. I began to practice intentional acts of kindness and put myself on a path to becoming a healthier and happier person. Serve Kindness has allowed me to find even more fulfillment.
There are amazing people and organizations creating beauty and kindness in the world, and it is my hope that Serve Kindness can further support their work—one bowl at a time.