When I first set out to look for items for the gifts for good, that made a difference and had a powerful story, I came across Branded Collective jewelry after seeing an IG post of one of the beautiful messages of a wearer to the makers of the jewelry. This is just one of the amazing aspects about BC that struck me, the ability for a wearer to actually thank and express their thoughts with the makers.
The makers are survivors of human trafficking who are empowering themselves through employment and art of jewelry making via the Branded Collective through a Nashville non-profit.
Fortunately, I could never imagine being a victim of human trafficking; but the fact that it is someones daughter, sister, friend is too horrific to even comprehend; how can we not support those that are working to raise awareness and help the survivors rekindle a love for life and pursue their dreams like the lucky rest of us.
Branded Collective has made it simple for everyone to help conquer this cause and Sparkle + Conquer want to do the same by bringing these stories crafted into the jewelry to as bigger market as possible.
With amazing change-making businesses like this, I always want to know about the founders; what's in their sparkly minds when they decided to take a stand and fight for a cause.
We can think that we may not be "good" enough to start a social enterprise and that our impact won't be great enough, but this is my "why" for this feature series - every small act of good can help, you don't need to be the next Maya Angelou, Dorothy Day ....OPRAH... to have an impact. Sparkle + Conquer will bring you a glimpse into these Changemakers minds; to meet the makers, celebrate the work they are doing and to ignite and inspire you to support and start some good!
I was lucky enough to have co-founder Lauren Carpenter show her generous nature in allowing Sparkle + Conquer to be a stockist (New Yorks ONLY stockists btw, sounds so exclusive Huh! Lol) and respond to my light probes to get a glimpse into her mind.
Let's start with the basics, for those not yet lucky enough to know about Branded Collective, tell us what it is + about its mission.
BRANDED Collective exists to empower survivors of human trafficking through meaningful employment and economic independence. Our hope is that each employee is inspired to rediscover the dreams she has lost and is empowered to go forth and pursue them. We do this by teaching the art of jewelry making to survivors of trafficking through a Nashville non-profit called End Slavery Tennessee.
How did this beautiful social biz idea come about?
I started BRANDED Collective in 2012 with my dear friend Emily Landham Mahoney. Our mission was to help victims of human trafficking and also raise awareness about the issue in Nashville.
We raised $10,000 in startup capital for our company by selling 100 signature BRANDED cuffs for $100 apiece. After that, we kept stamping numbers on cuffs (and now we’re at almost 20,000 BRANDED folks)!
Our mission has deepened over the years, and in 2015 we began providing job training and employment for survivors of trafficking. Now all of our products are survivor-made and our mission is to empower survivors through meaningful employment.
Creating social impact businesses require a certain drive that inspires them and the work they do. Who inspires you?
In this work, I am extremely inspired by the survivors we work with. They are incredible people, and it is my desire to see them succeed and rise above. In life, I’m also inspired by God, family and friends. I love people! 🙂
I'm a quote lover, I could read them all day to get inspiration. Do you have a fav quote?
I love all kinds of quotes, but one that has stuck with me over the years is the quote that inspired our company from the beginning:
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.” This was said by William Wilberforce to Parliament in 1789 when he was only 25 years old - the same age as Em and I when we started our company. Wilberforce is such a strong voice in abolition history!
Ohhh that's a powerful one! I think that one will be a stickler for many!
I think people can forget sometimes that success in a business doesn't just start that way, and that you and your co-founder would have started with nothing but an idea.
How did you feel starting from nothing but that sparkling idea to now, a tangible thriving business?
I feel hopeful! It's a lot of hard work, but it has already been so much more than worth it. And there is still so much left to do! We never thought that our business would grow to this point - and we’re just excited for what’s ahead and how many more survivor lives we can impact through the BRANDED story.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs wanting to start a for #SocialGood biz? (Wink Wink Nudge Nudge)
Hard work and sacrifice goes far. It sounds a bit cliche, but it’s so true. I always tell people that there might be weeks, months or even years of doing multiple jobs or working extremely long hours to get to the place they want to get in their entrepreneurial journey.
I know that has been true for both Em and me, but never giving up on our common vision has been key for the growth and success of our business.
Another piece of advice I would give budding entrepreneurs is to be open to advice and also open doors of opportunity to listen to your audience. They will always give you the best advice! 🙂
Besides being a Social Entrepreneur and doing good in the world, you're also a human being so spill. What's Your Guilty Pleasure?
I love hot yoga!
I know it’s good for you but… does that still count as a guilty pleasure? 🙂 I’m a little addicted to it and attend class at my local studio about 4-5 times a week.
My new obsession is also Buti yoga
- it’s a tribal dance type of yoga set to hip hop beats. I find that whichever class I’m taking, it’s my time to really just clear my head and not think about anything except what I’m doing on my mat. I also love a good challenge, and hot yoga can definitely be very intense.
(I just googled Buti Yoga it looks SUPER FUN! Sweaty and bendy but FUN! Totally trying that!)
Where Can We Find You On The Weekend?
My husband has been a full-time traveling singer-songwriter for about 12 years, so sometimes I go on the road with him on the weekends! It’s a great change of pace and always an adventure. When I can’t travel with him, we like to sleep in on Saturdays and fix a big breakfast.
We’re both self-employed and work quite a bit, so those low-key Saturdays are THE BEST. However we also live in Nashville, so there is always a lot going on. We’re coming up on festival season, so for the rest of the year most weekends you will find me at a craft fair or other event slinging BRANDED cuffs and telling the BRANDED story! 🙂
So you're doing all this amazing work, it's our turn.
How can we help Branded Collective continue to have an impact on stopping human trafficking + reach its goals?
Spread the word! The best way you can support BRANDED is to purchase a product and tell other people about it. This is how folks can support our amazing survivor employees and also raise awareness about human trafficking.
We would also love to have you follow along on our Instagram @brandedcollective or our Facebook or www.brandedcollective.com. We love seeing how people wear their BRANDED jewelry and the stories they are able to tell.
Thank You so much Lauren and fellow co-founder Em for all the amazing work you are doing. Awareness is key in gathering support to conquer a cause - I know I was not aware of how big the problem is still today until recently. One stat that really got to my Mumma gutz is that worldwide,
2 children are being trafficked per MINUTE. Frightening.
I hope your story of starting something for good has inspired others as it has me. As consumers we have it easy, all we have to do to help Branded Collective make a difference is to get BRANDED - be it the next addition to the wardrobe or as a gift to someone special (and the jewelry is not just for us ladies ladies! )
Thanks to You Guys for virtually joining in on some changemaker chatting + supporting Sparkle + Conquer: A #SocialGood Marketplace.
P.S. Subscribe to Social Good to get a super sparkly opening discount code emailed right to yo inbox! Valid til Fri-YAY (14th April)!
Click Pic Below + Get BRANDED!
Collation of Branded Collective (permission obtained) and Sparkle + Conquer. LLC.
The Comfort Zone
Scrolling through the interweb with a sweaty baby stuck to one arm not daring to move in case it wakes the beast....... I came across another Mumma's story.....the story behind YUHME and all the way in Sweden but with the same desires as me, and I'm sure a bazillion Mummas in the world.
Show your babies you can do anything, you can make a positive impact on this world and live a full life and benefit others.
Eva (my baby) helped me model our YUHME bottle at our local playground in DUMBO.
Welcoming Alexandra, Mumma/ Co-Founder / Social Entrepreneur with her husband Alex of YUHME!
It all started with a dream. Dreams “the bunny” that is. I was approaching maternity leave with our youngest daughter Harlow (now two years old) and I had decided to give myself one single thing during this time.
That was mental time, space in my head to think. I bought our then unborn daughter a stuffed animal bunny and called it "Dreams", to be reminded every day what my focus was. She, together with her older sister Freya, are my dreams and for them, I had to figure this one out.
I want to show our daughters what we can achieve in a lifetime, and that there are many different ways to live your life.
I wanted to spend more time with them, and the time I spent away from them, or working with them by my side had to be meaningful. For many years I lived with the preconceived idea that in order to help others, you have to make a lot of money and then you can really make a difference. However, during my many hours of reading, I came across the book “Start something that matters” by Blake MyCoskie.
"To give for every product that you sell- that is just magical."
Both I and my husband used to be elite athletes (swimming & rugby), so making a product in that category was just natural, and to do anything but the best possible way for the environment was out of the question.
One day on my way home from the gym I picked up my water bottle and thought “there must be a better way to do this and we will find it”. It didn’t take much to get my husband in on it all and we had started Yuhme.
An incredibly interesting twist we found out long after naming our company, is that Yuhme (yume) means "Dream "in Japanese - the symbolic of that is just mind blowing.
Yuhme is a social entrepreneurial company and the name stands for You Us Humanity Me Environment.
We have developed and now sell ‘the world’s most eco-friendly reusable water bottle with a purpose.'
The water bottle is made from sugarcane, which actually is Co2 negative, and for every bottle we sell, Yuhme provides 6 months of clean water to someone in the Central African Republic.
Our mission is to show that you can start a business, follow your passion, and do good for the environment and humanity all at once.
WHO inspires you?
People that dare to be different, that listen to their inner voice and follow their passion & purpose. That have trust in the Universe. That work hard to make it happen. That wants something bigger than just for themselves. The list is endless; Blake Mycoskie, Caitlin Crosby, Sophia Bush, Ellen etc
Do you have a fav quote or mantra?
A few ; )
“we can truly accomplish anything if we use our time wisely. Focus on what truly matters and life will have a way to be that much brighter and fulfilling.”
“Be the change”. “Follow your dreams”.
How did you feel starting from nothing and now to where Yuhme is today?
Incredibly grateful, humble and powerful. The fact that we can do whatever we set our minds to is amazing.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs wanting to start a for #SocialGood biz?
Just start. Start before you are ready. You don’t need this amazing detailed and mapped out plan. Just take that first step and the rest will follow.
The fulfillment of just helping one single person will carry you through all the hardship of starting your own business.
How can we help Yuhme continue to have an impact and reach its goals?
Definitely get the word out there! Also, I would say encourage people to buy the bottle as the key of this (which is true of any social enterprise) is that you have to sell products in order to create the impact you wish. We are truly grateful for any help that we can get.
THANK YOU, ALEXANDRA + ALEX!
Can You Believe They've Created The Easiest Way For Us To:
Donate 6 months of clean water to 1 of the 500 million people that don't have access to clean water in the Central African Republic via Water For Good
Reduce the waste of 50 billion plastic water bottles last year (US) (source BanTheBottle )
And Have Not Only a Super Stylish Water Bottle but Taking Action To Put Your Money Where You Want To See The Change In The World!
** Pic Credit: Collation of YUHME (with permission) and Sparkle + Conquer. LLC.
This isn't a sponsored post - I JUST LOVE THE YUHME MISSION!
Welcome to the first in The Inspired Files a collection of inspiration to inspire social good living.
Since we moved to this concrete jungle where dreams are made of, we haven't gotten around to getting a TV and I have to say it's been great!
As I mentioned I am a sucker for trashy romcoms and told hubby that watching Gossip Girl was research..... something else to get off my chest, WTF is with the ending of Pretty Little Liars? #disappointed
CHOP N WATCH
I've read a bazillion more books than I ever have (thanks to Brooklyn and New York Library), started listening to podcasts while fixing dinner (what I used to do was bring all the veggies into the lounge and set up the chopping board so I could chop n watch - where's the baby you say? Rolling around on the mat sucking on all her toys with that glassy-eyed look babies get when they hit the good spot #teething)
AM I CRAZY OR CREATIVE
Anywho, I L O V E reading/learning/making lists (and rarely checking them all off before I start a new list). I thought I was a bit of an excitable 3 year old trapped in a 30 something Mumma as my attention span can be quite erratic! I might be infatuated with a new craft, buy everything required to be a professional then pack it away as soon as I found a new 'thing' to be infatuated by.....like learning a new language......but have been re-assured that I'm not crazy its creativity......
So, I've also started reading a lot about people in this social good space, which I will share the highlights of their crazy journey, as well as the inspirational things I've read/listened to, that will help live a simple #SocialGood Lifestyle.
9 MINUTES WELL SPENT
You hear so much about "What's Your WHY" - I get it, I just have many Whys flapping around but this lil podcast provides that bit more clarity. Looking forward to listening to the 149 podcasts produced before this one!
UNCONSCIOUS TALENTS = CRAZY IDEAS (for me )
By Maria Russo @thecultureist
I actually only related to about 30% of this blog post but I still enjoyed it. I am lucky to not have come across anyone that doesn't think I can do it, no haters yet touch wood! BUT I have definitely enjoyed the "like attracts like" theory and met some peeps on the same page to discuss the exciting curly journey of starting a biz.
Fav line: ".......... you are letting all the unconscious talents bottled up inside spew out through each of your senses, opening up a world of new possibilities."
Made me feel better about my brain explosions, some people refer to them as 'brainstorming'.
Check out The Cultureist, it's a media platform & movement for social good that revolves around a community of travelers, dreamers & changemakers.
YAY I FOUND MY LOCAL SOCIAL GOOD IN MY HOOD
I'd been hunting for my local social good community hub and the universe heard me (and probably saw me flapping around like a cat with sticky tape on its paws #funnynotfunny). A friend I'd met at another event emailed me the link to Be Social Change and I clicked the link and saw they had an awesome free event the next night and Tah-DAH there I went! (After having to strategically get hubby home early to tag team him in on baby watch).
@marcossalazar Spoke about the basics of Social Entrepreneurship, differences between non-profits, B Corps, Benefit Corps and of course Social Enterprises. Breaking down the basic steps to go through to ensure you have a successful launch......Sooooo I guess I will do a little backward prep work and take it from there!
Clarified quite a few things, particularly as I'm not only starting a new biz but in a country, I am not familiar with!
Looking forward to more events and meeting like -minded peeps!
Biggest takeaway: Are You Building a Startup or Amplifying Impact?
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Would love to here from you, great blogs/podcasts, social good communities or people who have given you those gold nuggets to reflect on to keep on keeping on!