We have just returned from a family vacation in the Seattle/San Juan Islands where I was unplugged for the better part of a week. It was wonderful to disconnect and enjoy the beauty of the great northwest with my family.
One of the best things about traveling is learning about new people and companies doing social action through their business. While shopping with my daughter, I saw a row of small handmade ceramic vases in about a dozen colors. They initially caught my eye because they were in such a gorgeous array of colors but when I got closer and started reading the flyer next to them I was even more excited. Lauren Burman, the founder of Material Good began her company as a project and a way to honor her grandmother who was battling cancer at the time. Lauren wanted to create something tangible in exchange for a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She loved to do pottery so she began creating small vases and sold them at a local florist. They sold quickly and she began to think about how these Little Shirleys (named in honor of her grandma Shirley) were more than just a simple vase. They were an opportunity for her to become a social entrepenuer. She has been inspired through this project and business and hopes to inspire others with her Little Shirley vases. Needless to say, I love being able to support companies like this and also spread the word so others will support them too. Lauren’s Little Shirley vases are sold all over Seattle and now also at New Season’s Markets in Portland (where I live) and online via her website. They are beautiful and offer a way to gift something to someone or buy a few for yourself and help benefit local organizations working to cure cancer.
Later that day, I bought my daughter a pair of shoes for school from Tom’s Shoes. Another very cool company providing a pair of shoes for an underserved child with every shoe purchased by a customer. I love supporting companies that see the value in giving back and doing good with each purchase. Certainly makes me want to become a loyal customer.
Finally, I had to share an opportunity I witnessed as my son engaged in a sweet mitzvah on our vacation. While in Seattle we attended a Mariner’s game. My son had received a grey Mariner’s jersey earlier this summer with his Ichiro’s name emblazed on the back. It was too small and he was disappointed. He’d saved his allowance and wanted to buy himself a shirt in the right size when we were at the game. When we perused the gift store we found the jersey and tried one on that fit perfectly. Since we didn’t have a receipt for the original shirt we couldn’t exchange it or get any credit. My son asked the saleslady if he could just give it to them and would they be able to find another child who they could gift it to instead. “Someone who couldn’t afford the shirt but might still be happy to have it.” I honestly don’t know if they will actually be able to do that but was quite proud of my son for his wanting to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy a team jersey as much as he does.
There are so many companies engaged in social entrepreneurship. Please let me know some of your favorites. When we learn of companies giving back as part of their mission we can not only support them by buying their goods, we can also let others know about them (word of mouth advertising is key for a company) and contact them personally to let them know how much we appreciate their company policies.