Author Archive for Sophie Stangebye


bangsDid you know there’s a hip shoe on the market that is all about supporting entrepreneurs!?

After graduating from Clemson with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Mandarin, Hannah Davis flew to China to teach English to schoolchildren. During her time there, she was inspired by a fellow teacher whose zesty fashion sense often featured an overlooked fashion staple; she loved sporting simple canvas Chinese work shoes.

Hannah knew she’d like to introduce a similar sneaker to the US market. The name BANGS, which is the Mandarin word for help, embodies the mission of this unique social enterprise which aspires to empower and pour into the entrepreneurs- the world changers of tomorrow.

Today, BANGS turns out several colors and styles of shoes, each of which give 20% of profits in the form of loans to entrepreneurs. New entrepreneurs are being selected every month and to date, BANGS has funded 226 entrepreneurs in 49 countries.

Wear good. Support today’s dreamers, and tomorrow’s business-people. Shop BANGS. bangs-cover





We’ve had the opportunity to learn a little about Google several times in class. This pioneering and world-changing company has a knack for curating an army of visionaries, creators, innovators, and encouraging their employees in risk and creativity. Jess Lee, a millennial entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of P O L Y V O R E, recalls that the greatest advice she was ever received came from her mentors at Google while working there as a product manager out of college.

Lee studied engineering at Stanford. She laughs about coming from an oriental family, where she was only ever encouraged to become a doctor, engineer, or something else of high esteem and considerable salary. But she went out on a limb and accepted a position with Google, determined to challenge herself.

While working at Google, Lee fell in love with Polyvore. And as an innovator, when she fell in love, that meant she incessantly shot emails to the then CEO, Pasha Sadri, with suggestions for improvements. Sadri replied offered a challenge: “Why don’t you come here and fix this stuff yourself? We should talk.”

Lee accepted.

Ever since childhood, Lee remembers wanting to do something creative, like writing. Polyvore was enchanting to Lee for the same reason it is to thousands of other people: it’s a creative platform and community of shared fashion ideas that enables fashion visionaries of all ages to graphically assemble outfits online by digitally collecting snaps of clothing items from their favorite sites. Whether you come from a small town, or work as the editor of VOGUE, Polyvore gives you the opportunity to create, combine, influence fashion in the minds of people all over the world, and gain a following.

In true entrepreneurial spirit, and with no business school history, Lee took on a company she didn’t even think would be profitable at first. She held tightly to a lesson she’d learned at Google and has served her well: “Build something users will love and money will come later.”

Humans of New York

Brandon Stanton (L), creator of the Humans of New York blog, shows an image he took of a man named Carl February 22, 2013 across the street from Union Square in New York. Some like New York's skyscrapers, bridges, his energy, taxis or lights. But Brandon Stanton has set himself another challenge: photograph of 10,000 inhabitants for a blog now famous "Humans of New York."  In two years, he has photographed 5,000 New Yorkers, children leaving school, tramps, fashionistas, New York with a bouquet of tulips, old lady with a cane, municipal employees, etc. And nearly 560,000 fans now follow his Facebook page.AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA        (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2010, an ambitious young man squeezed everything he owned into 2 suitcases and moved to New York with a camera and a dream.

New York is a people watcher’s dream. The city is busting at the seams with people from every culture; it’s a canvas smeared with every color imaginable. The fashion, the language, and energy- are electrifying. Everyone seems to be in a rush to get somewhere.

Mesmerized by the New York inhabitants, an immense wealth of interesting photographic subjects, Brandon Stanton decided that he would take 10,000 photos of 10,000 of different New Yorkers.

Stanton was a mere amateur at photography. People laughed and asked him what on earth he was doing. But for 6 months he kept his head up. Every day he walked the streets, snapped photos, and published them online. And nothing happened. There was no response from the public; No-one had interest in his photos.

Frustrated but driven, Stanton persisted. One day he decided to publish his photos to Facebook along with quotes or stories attached to his photographic subjects. He created a page and titled it Humans of New York.

Doubtless, you’ve heard some of these stories. Soon after the page was created, Stanton had 1 or 2 new followers every day. People weren’t excited about pictures. Anyone can take pictures. But pictures paired with real stories are almost irresistible. He began conducting short interviews with the people he photographed and their stories and their photo compose Humans of New York. Soon, Stanton had a massive following.

Today, Humans of New York has over 17 million followers on Facebook alone. Humans of New York started with a goal to catalogue the inhabitants of New York, and is now adored by people all over the world.

Brandon Stanton, I think, is the proverbial entrepreneur. He’s someone who didn’t give up. He pivoted his idea and didn’t allow the apathetic spirit of those around him to blind him from seeing, capturing, and celebrating peoples’ stories. Today, he continues doing what he loves most – sharing the stories of New Yorkers along with incredible photos.

Bringing Back Classy Swimwear

rey-swimwear-modest-swimming-suits71f9323eb27d9e49f01a3d8d764f067fIt  was a hot summer in Hollywood, and between acting gigs Jessica Ray found herself spending most of her time by the poolside to meet up with friends and escape the blistering heat. After being frustrated by observing how objectified women are in bikinis, Jessica decided to boycott her normal scanty swimsuits for something with more character and coverage.

After surfing the web for hours, Jessica gave up. There weren’t any decently modest swimsuits available on the market that didn’t look like they belonged on a grandmother. Seriously, what’s so hard about making a cute, classic, semi-conservative swimsuit that’s appealing to the younger generation? Jessica was determined, if she couldn’t buy a cute swimsuit- she’d make her own. She had no sewing or design experience, but that’s not a problem for a true entrepreneur!

Jessica isn’t alone. Other people in Hollywood are interested in sporting classier swimwear; there is a healthy demand and Jessica decided to satisfy that want with from a creative and youthful approach.  8 years ago, Jessica Ray swimwear debuted their first swimwear line.

Jessica Rey swimsuits are becoming increasingly popular.  The brand is inspired by the debatably the most iconic woman of all time: Audrey Hepburn. The line strives to uphold the value and dignity of women through their designs. Classy doesn’t have to look frumpy, and Jessica Rey swimwear exists to promote that vision with a vintage vibe.

Roma. Giving Poverty the Boot

At the age of 8, Samuel Bistrian, along with his 11 brothers and sisters and parents, packed their bags and said goodbye to a communistic and impoverished Romania for the land of opportunity…America. The Bistrians taught their children to be thankful in all things and to be ever-mindful of looking for a way to give back to others.

 Over a decade later, Samuel graduated from Dallas Baptist University. He traveled with various missions groups to reach out to impoverished people and eventually returned to Romania for the first time since his childhood. The country is no longer under communistic oppression, but the country is still  stricken with poverty.

What Samuel saw wrecked him. Orphans—streetchildren—everywhere tramping through snow, mud, and slush completely barefoot. This was the normal in Romania. This was the excepted, the accepted, and the heartbreaking-commonplace. He knew he had to do something. And he tucked that memory carefully away.

Back in America, Samuel’s drive for fashion and sales had led him to a prominent job at Neiman Marcus. It was here that Samuel met the infamous Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS. Samuel instantly loved the vision of tomes and was incredibly inspired by Mycoskie’s mentorship. He decided to blend his love for fashion and his compulsion to aid the impoverished by founding a rain-boot company with a similar one-for-one vision: Roma.

Roma spells out amor backwards. What’s more, Roma is also the slang name of one of the most impoverished Romanian gypsy people groups. Roma’s vision is to spread love and eradicate poverty. So, why rain boots? This shoe is the most practical answer to the mud, snow, and slush many kids tromp through on a daily basis. The shoes last longer than TOMS and provide more coverage.

Today Roma offers a wide range of rain boots and is growing in popularity, largely due to their latest genius marketing move to have the Duck Dynasty star, Sadie Robertson, represent their brand.

Pause for a moment. What do you observe?Samuel's respect and the inspiration he received from TOMS is evident by the fact he sports a pair of classic cordones. What a guy.

 Pause for a moment. What do you observe? Samuel’s respect and the inspiration he received from TOMS is evident by the fact he sports a pair of classic cordones. What a guy.


Photo from


JOYN – fashioning better lives

kba_india_selects__058_large1spinning_large1After attending John Brown University, a private conservative Christian college, the newly-wed Melody Murray set out with her husband to work in an African orphanage. Melody and Dave could feel God burdening their hearts to reach out and help those in poverty. Over the next decade, they dreamed of themselves working with struggling artisans. In 2010, they moved to Rajpur, India, and JOYN was birthed.

JOYN is a socially-conscious handbag company that takes pride in their artistic 100% handcrafted products. At JOYN, people are valued and art is a process.

JOYN takes local artistic entrepreneurs and teaches them the proper technique of block-printing, block-carving,  weaving, spinning, and sewing. One by one, individuals are being empowered by their artistic talents and trade to rise above poverty. They work in a nurturing community that is propelled by a vision to share the joy of Christ’s love.

Every bag goes through a 12 step process. There is no electricity or machines used in the creation of a handbag. Melody refers to this as “a model of purposeful inefficiency.” Each step that goes into the production process means another life changed and more jobs created.

Currently, JOYN has expanded to several cities across India. Melody’s vision of creating jobs and spreading hope and joy is coming to fruition.   Read More →