Archive for Social Entrepreneur

Jack Kim- Benelab Search Engine

Jack Kim is a young entrepreneur that is still in high school in Seattle. He is the founder of a search engine called Benelab that is designed to make philanthropy easier by generating donations. Jack’s project is not-for-profit and he plans to donate all of the revenue generated by Benelab. Jack quickly learned the power of a search engine’s ability to generate wealth from very little traffic through his work with search engines in the past. After developing an outline for his idea, Jack got a team of his high school classmates together to start working on the project. So far, Benelab has been incredibly successful at generating wealth, and all of this wealth is then donated to different charities and organizations to help the less fortunate. Benelab provides an easy yet effective way of enabling everday internet users to participate in philanthropy, even if they do not realize it.

“Many people think of charity as something limited to the rich or “good”, but in reality it’s something that can and should be incorporated into anyone’s daily life – you just have to know how.” – Jack Kim

Restoration Apparel Co: Michael Mitchell

Image result for Restoration Apparel Co. // Michael MitchellImage result for Restoration Apparel Co. // Michael Mitchell

Today we live in a world where the apparel industry is more prevalent than ever. The rise in fashion has made it so that you could purchase a shirt anywhere from $10 to $1000 and the market just keeps expanding. In order to supply the heavy demand placed on clothing, the apparel industry employs many people from every corner of the world.

However, many of these workers, especially in third world countries, are being paid extremely low wages.On average, only 2.5% of the wholesale price of apparel goes to all workers who construct the  products in the developing world.

Michael recognized the exploitation that occured so frequently in this industry and decided to act on his compassion for these people. Michael along with others started a company called Restoration Apparel Co. Restoration Apparel Co. strives to lift the lives of workers and restore dignity to the apparel manufacturing industry through living wage job creation and its Wage Restitution Allowance give-back program. It offers factory direct access to dye sublimated, screen printed, and embroidered sportswear while providing its customers peace-of-mind regarding the production of their products.

I admire this entrepreneur for his compassion and selfless heart. And unlike so many other people, this entrepreneur chose to act on his compassion by supplying a better paying job for people who are stuck in their poverty.

Gladiator Lacrosse

Rachel Zietz is the founder of Gladiator Lacrosse, a high quality sports training equipment line at an affordable price.

She was inspired to start this company when her coach told her she needed to work on her skills outside of practice. Without the proper equipment and resources to practice, Rachel found herself at a disadvantage compared to the other athletes. She struggled to find affordable, durable equipment that would allow her to even play the simple game of “wall ball.” Rachel then participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Program (co-sponsored by Florida Atlantic University and Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce). This program gave her the idea to solve her problem by creating Gladiator Lacrosse.

Rachel is a sophomore in High School and she has already accomplished a vast amount of success in the Lacrosse equipment industry. Her drive and creativity will allow her to achieve greatness throughout her life.

Image result for gladiator lacrosse

  • Image result for gladiator lacrosse

 

 

 

http://www.gladiatorlacrosse.com

 

Ten year old Girl Makes Heartfelt Impact

Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer is a ten-year-old from Duncannon, Pennsylvania. She was born missing half of her heart, and her twin brother, Rory, passed away before the two could ever meet. She underwent major open heart surgery shortly after birth and has since then undergone 21 medical procedures including three open heart surgeries.

After her third open heart surgery, Lorelei’s lungs collapsed and she underwent a long grueling recovery where she was given a compression heart pillow to relieve the pain… but the pillow was much to big for a girl like herself. This made her think… why aren’t their smaller compression heart pillows made for children? So then at the age of 5 her mother taught her to sew and she began making compression heart pillows for pediatric open heart patients, aiding them in their own recovery’s. She named her organization Heart Hugs, and it spread like wildfire!

Heart Hugs works with children’s hospitals, orphanages and families to provide these pillows at no cost for patients and families through the kindness of volunteers around the world that help Lorelei ensure that no child is turned away. Her non-profit organization has only been the start of her work as she helps her brother Cavan, the 2015 Army Military Child of the Year, manage Socks for Vets, which provides goods for veterans and helped to train and care fore goats used in providing service support to wounded warriors.

Lorelei has been nationally recognized, receiving recognition from the Points of Light Foundation, the Maryland Volunteerism Award, and being featured on Dr. Oz show in 2015. She is affiliated with many organizations, including 4-H where she was recognized in 2016 and 2017, where I was lucky enough to meet her in person at multiple state conferences. Lorelei is not even thinking about slowing down. As she explained, “I am missing half of my heart, and people sometimes think I can’t do anything, but I can.” And she does.

https://www.facebook.com/CHDHeartHugs

Alley Cat Designs

Jewelry for the Purrr-fect Touch

When Alyssa was a little girl, she always looked forward to the special times when her grandmother would visit, bringing with her a bag stuffed full of art and craft supplies. Alyssa was creative by nature, so it never mattered much to her what was in the bag – it was all about the joy and excitement of creating something new, something beautiful, something that hadn’t been there before.

It was during one of these afternoons with her Grandmother that Alyssa first discovered her love for jewelry making.  On that particular afternoon, the craft bag was full of beads, string and jewelry wire, and as the two sat making Christmas presents for her mother, a new passion was born.

From that day forward, Alyssa wanted to do more than just make beautiful new things. She wanted to make things that made other people feel beautiful. Alyssa had always found joy helping other people feel as beautiful as they always were in her eyes, and with her grandmother’s beads in her hands, she realized that she now had the tools to do just that: make things that could help women see just how beautiful they really were. And she was right – ever since clasping that first bracelet of plastic beads around her mother’s wrist, Alyssa has been designing the type of jewelry that makes the wearer feel beautiful and which reminds everyone that it is the bird that makes the feathers.

Today, Alyssa is fresh out of Cornell University with degrees in Business and Sociology and is working to launch her jewelry company, Ally Cat Designs . What began as the passion project of a little girl in love with all things beautiful has grown into a business which has inspired and empowered women all across the globe. Alyssa spends as much time traveling as she possibly can, drawing inspiration from women around the world. Along the way, she supports local artisans by collecting materials to incorporate into her jewelry, all of which is utterly unique and designed around the women who inspire her.

Alyssa prides herself on not being limited to one style or aesthetic; instead, she has something for everyone: from classic to edgy, minimalistic to romantic, each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind, made to reflect the individual beauty of every customer. Her designs also reflect her commitment to sustainability and accessibility. Fast fashion this is not! Each of her piece features timeless style and is made to last.  But rather than using rare metals which are expensive and easily broken, Alyssa carefully selects materials which are more widely available and which stand the test of time. Great thought is put into each and every element of the design process so that each piece tells a story.

Alyssa likes to keep things personal; for her, it’s all about relationships. She is dedicated to her clients and designs with them in mind. Her favorite method of sales is house shows: by bringing clients together in an intimate environment, she gets to meet and be inspired by the women she serves. She mingles among her clients, getting to know them and helping them find that perfect piece. And if you come back to a second show, she is likely to pull you aside to show you something special she designed with you especially in mind!

As her business has grown, she has also adapted her model to meet the needs of a wider audience and has launched a website to make her work more widely available. But even with her expanding platform, Alyssa has sacrificed neither style nor substance. She still makes each piece by hand and each is one of a kind!

Down the road, Alyssa hopes to use her business as a platform from which to support other artists and to promote ethically sourced fashion. She is also passionate about social and economic development in impoverished nations. Having traveled extensively in both South Asia and Africa, Alyssa is committed to building supportive relationships with artists across the globe and using her work to empower and give back to women both at home and abroad.

It has been my great privilege to watch my dear friend Alyssa build and expand her business over the years, and I am so excited to share her story with you. Her’s is truly a project driven by a selfless passion to serve the women of the world, and the more her business grows, the more lives she touches. She doesn’t create jewelry for women to hide their insecurities behind; instead, she creates pieces that tell a story and celebrate the unique beauty of every woman.

Penny for Your Thoughts? Fighting Trafficking One Cent at a Time.

One penny may not buy a whole lot, but for Kendall Altmyer it is the key to a successful business.

After working with human trafficking survivors for three months in Greece, Kendall Altmyer knew she wanted to join the global fight against human trafficking. “I didn’t think I could make a dent in a worldwide injustice,” she confessed, “but doing nothing was not an option.” Using the resources and knowledge she had available to her, Altmyer created The Penny Story.

The Penny Story is an e-commerce store that sells small goods made from pennies. Some of her products include bracelets, key rings, and a “welcome box” with a variety of Penny goods. Each penny has the word “worthy” stamped into it, making a bold statement: it is not our material wealth that defines us, but our mere being, because we are children of God. This truth applies to those who are trapped in human trafficking, even though the world may tell them otherwise.

I admire Altmyer’s honesty. The quote above was found directly on her website, letting all viewers know that she doesn’t have everything figured out. This reality applies to all of us; as much as we’d like to learn everything there is about starting a business or making a difference, we simply can’t. But that didn’t stop Altmyer. She is now selling thousands of penny bracelets, and funding one of our country’s leading anti-human trafficking organizations, A21.

How did she manage this? By doing something. Altmyer explains that change begins by realizing you don’t have to be significant to make a significant change. This makes me wonder: if everyone had this mindset, how much more would we create? How much more would we be willing to put ourselves out there and strive to make a difference, even though we don’t have all the answers? I think the effect could be tremendous.

The product itself is beautifully simple, and The Penny Story’s website reflects that.  Altmyer offers only a few products, each one simple. The result of this is that customers don’t get caught up in the variety of stuff sold. Rather, they can see a clear mission through a few appropriate items.

I always appreciate seeing an individual who takes what he or she is passionate about and mixes it with innovation to create something new and effective. Altmyer has done this with The Penny Story, and she has created an outstanding example for young entrepreneurs who know they want to make a difference but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t be afraid to make a move – it’s common cents!

Kutoa.com – Feeding the Hungry Made Easy

Kutoa’s birth was pretty simple, actually – Joey Grassia saw a problem, and he used the resources he had to create a solution. I’ll explain.

In 2007, Grassia was struck by the severe malnutrition and sickness he witnessed when he traveled to South Asia. A few years after that, he had a health scare of his own, due to his diet filled with additives and preservatives. In marrying these two problems he encountered, he came up with a solution for both. Kutoa (Swahili “to give”) is a website that sells gluten free, sans GMO health bars with no added sugar or preservatives. The best part? For each bar sold, one is given to a hungry child. Having just started Kutoa in 2010, Grassia has already driven it to deliver 1 million meals to children in need.

One thing that Grassia has been very intentional in doing is inviting the consumer not just to buy a health bar, but to be a part of this global change. Kutoa.com connects with its consumers through its blog, which can be found on kutoa.com. The blog highlights various individuals, organizations, and schools in the community that are doing their part in fighting hunger both locally and around the world. Scrolling through the reviews for their health bars (among which you can find Chocolate Espresso Bean, Blueberry Almond, and Cherry Cashew), it is obvious that Kutoa’s consumers are ecstatic about finding a health bar that is truly healthy, and being able to make a tangible difference in an easy way.

Perhaps one of the most driving factors in Kutoa’s success has been Grassia’s mindset towards entrepreneurship. He believes that someone doesn’t need to have loads of experience in the business world to make an impact. He or shes just needs have to have an experience. Grassia’s happened to include a life-changing trip and a new diet. In the “Our Story” page of Kutoa.com, Grassia challenges his audience to take a look at the experiences they’ve had, and figure out how we can turn those into ideas that will improve our lives and others’. “Please,” he writes, “always remember that each of us have the power to make a difference.”

https://kutoa.com/

Bards Alley – Books, Wine, and Kindred Spirits

As a young girl, nothing inspired Jen Morrow more than the thought that her favorite book was still yet to be written. As an adult, she was frustrated in the lack of childlike wonder she experienced from those around her. And thus was her passion born: to create a space in her local community where kindred spirits could gather to be surrounded by books, wine, and people to share them with.

Bards Alley was the realization of this dream. It is one part bookstore, one part cafe, and all parts a community space for those who want share in the joy of reading. She keeps the shelves stocked with a limited selection of books: some classics, some new publications. The cafe serves coffee and food, and in the evening you can choose from a rotating selection of wine and craft beer to accompany locally made bread, cheese, soup, and charcuterie. The store has an open floor plan with book shelves around the edge and most of the middle of the room dedicated to “family style” dining tables and lounge areas – everything in the alley is designed to foster and host a community of people who love to read and share ideas.

In the North Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C., its easy to feel alone and disconnected: it is a transient area where people and families move away just as fast as they came. This makes it difficult to build the types of meaningful relationships which allow people to get to know other people, and through them get to know more about the world. Bards Alley has become a place to find the people who value fellowship and ideas and allow them to interact in a space that provides the inspiration needed to kick-start the types of meaningful conversations which blossom into friendships and a sense of community.

Sit On It, Detroit!

A majority of Detroit’s city population relies on the city bus system for transportation; however, most bus stops do not have benches. If you have to wait for a bus, it’s tiresome to stand. It’s even worse if it’s cold outside. The cold is very conducive with Michigan’s long winters.

Sit On It is a community supported social entrepreneurship organization. Sit On It was started by two millenial entrepreneurs names Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar. Kyle and Charles solved Detroit’s bench-shortage by using reclaimed wood from homes that were deconstructed. Kyle and Charles take these bus stop benches a step further by converting the lower part of the bench into a book shelf. Now, citizens of Detroit can read while they wait for the bus!

In the future, Sit On It Detroit is hoping to continue providing benches for fellow Detroiters. They hope to set up benches throughout the city. The company recently moved into a new 10,000 square foot space. Kyle and Charles have expanded their business to building custom furniture pieces for restaurants.

Sit On It was originally funded by the micro-funding organization called Detroit SOUP. Check out my other blog about SOUP.

Stay warm, Detroit, and Sit On It!

soi1 soi3

SOUP!

SOUP is a group of Detroiters who raise money for Detroiters. SOUP is a micro-funding dinner. The model of SOUP originated in Chicago. SOUP allows ordinary people to come together around ideas and bowls of soup at a public dinner. SOUP meets in a loft, anyone can come and listen to aspiring creative individuals share their ideas for how they want to improve the community of Detroit. Each project gets to present before those attending the dinner. The project presentations range from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more.

SOUP’s mission is “to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.”

This great organization was founded by Amy Kaherl. Amy is the current director of Detroit SOUP. Amy grew up and attended college in Michigan. She studied theology and popular culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasedena, California.

SOUP actually funded the grant that helped start Veronika Scott’s social enterprise company called The Empowerment Plan. Read about The Empowerment Plan on one of my other blogs.

Stay warm, Detroit, and eat soup!

 s1 s2 s3