One of the things happening on the planet right now that really excites me is the proliferation of brands and charities that are marrying the love of beautifully made goods with a deep commitment to economic sustainability for women and men worldwide, particularly in the artisan-rich developing world. Among my favorite examples is the luxury fashion brand Maiyet, but today I learned about another that stokes my far, the charity Mercado Global, which I learned about via Kelly Framel, aka The Glamourai.
In this video, Kelly looks back on a trip to Guatemala with Mercado Global, which Framel describes on her Instagram page as “a revolutionary nonprofit group that is empowering indigenous Mayan women to break the cycle of poverty by connecting them to international markets, fostering sustainable livelihoods for their families, and pioneering a socially responsible business model within the fashion industry.” And let the church say Amen.
TOMS shoes has teamed up with haute shoe designer Tabitha Simmons to make a TOMS shoe that’s both classic and edgy, as befits a Tabitha Simmons shoe.
I love social entrepreneurialism. Brands like TOMS. FEED Projects and Warby Parker, and business leaders like Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, whose The Giving Pledge proves that they just “get it”, have proven that you can do well and also do good.
When I was coming out of law school, my choices within the legal profession were pretty stark. Either I went to a big corporate law firm and raked in the dough, or I entered into the not-for-profit arena of human rights. I wasn’t very money-driven at the time — my mistake; turns out money comes in pretty handy when you’re making a life — but I still found those set of options too limiting. I wanted to make change in the world, but I didn’t want to do it in the small corners that traditional change-makers managed to carve out. I wanted the whole world to be infused with purpose, meaning and possibility, and not just the little bits and bobs. These days a lot of other people want that too, and that is changing our business and social landscapes one little action at a time.
But I digress. I wanted you to see the video above of Tabitha Simmons talking about her collaboration with TOMS and her experience going on a mission to deliver TOMS shoes to children in need. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it inspires you to do a little good today and all the days to come.
The Giving Pledge is an idea you can believe in. It’s the brainchild of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, and represents what we believe is the pinnacle of capitalism, the end and purpose of which is the improvement of human life.
We are capitalists. We believe that capitalism is well-suited to the production of wealth and that wealth is an indispensable tool for improving human life.
In their bestselling book Sex At Dawn, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá tell us that our hunter gatherer ancestors were much better sharers than we are. Sharing wasn’t just encouraged, it was mandatory. Hoarding or hiding food was considered deeply shameful and nearly unforgivable. They weren’t more evolved than we are; they just understood that their mutual survival depended on everyone’s adherence to this code. Sharing was simply the best way to distribute the inherent risks of life so that everyone would have a chance to survive.
Sharing is still the most practical approach for organizing human society. Intuitively we already know this, which is why when there’s a natural disaster or a terrorist attack — event for which we hold people blameless — we tend to redistribute our own resources so that other people can survive.
I’m a fan of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty even if I’m not always a fan of the aesthetics or even of the end goal (the “underarm conversation” campaign stands out since I’ve never once considered the possibility that my underarms were or could be ugly. Ugly underarms, is that really a thing — and if it were, couldn’t you solve the problem by, you know, wearing a shirt with sleeves? I mean, do you really need a product for that?
But criticisms aside, I’ve never doubted Dove intentions, which, yes, includes selling product, but I also believe they genuinely want women to feel good about themselves and their bodies while they’re using all those products from Dove. Call me gullible, but after seeing their latest Dove Real Beauty Sketches, I’m even more convinced of their good intentions. Of course, telling stories and not tying it to the sale of a specific product is smart business these days. As social media renegade Amy Jo Martin explains in her informative and entertaining book, Renegades Write The Rules, success no longer belongs to the brand that bombards consumers with the most adds; it belongs to the brand that builds genuine relationships of affinity with real people. One way to do this is to tell stories, which is why it’s been said that, in today’s world, every brand is a media brand. Brands are no longer selling products, they’re selling stories — not about what a brand does, but about why it does it. It’s an idea Amy Jo Martin borrowed from Simon Sinek’s TED Talk in which he explained the difference between brands that lead their industries and everyone else.