Life Social Good Style

Inspire Saturday: Meet The Givve Collection CEO Ashley Howell

GIVVEGRAPHIC

It’s been a busy month on Cup of Charisma! With a big move underway, I can finally share with you a new program kicking off with an incredible woman. The Inspire Saturday series will feature interviews with leading inspirational women around the country. The first in our series in none other than Ashley Howell, Founder and CEO of The Givve Collection. I’m a gigantic fan of social good, so when I came across Givve Collection last year I knew I needed to track down its founder and pick her brain for inspiration. Ashley started her project through a  simple dream and watched it flourish. She worked tireless to curate a website making socially-conscious style attainable in one easy platform.

The Givve Collection takes a simple approach to create a global impact. The site, which I’ve fallen in love with time and time again, carries charitable fashion products all in one location. You can curate your own Givve List, browse trendy accessories and clothing — you can even shop by cause! Ashley’s journey to begin Givve is an intriguing one. Let the first Inspire Saturday begin!

When did you begin Givve?

I started The Givve Collection in the early summer of 2013 with the big, impossible idea to create the first online marketplace dedicated to featuring the latest charitable fashion products. At the time, I could barely work the privacy settings on my Facebook let alone start a web-based technology company.

My goal was to make it easier for people to shop for a cause and shop products they actually wanted to buy while still supporting their favorite cause. There have been other companies that only sold charitable products, but I wanted to Givve to be different – from a business model and ascetic perspective. I wanted to just feature items (aka we don’t have a shopping cart and direct people to our vendors to buy) so we could feature thousands if not 10s of thousands of products (one day) and allow people to shop by item or by cause. I also wanted Givve to look like a high-end fashion site, so we carefully curate the design and products that we feature on shopgivvve.com.

 What led you to create the site? 

I was getting my MBA at Santa Clara University (SCU) and learning about /working with social entrepreneurs all over the world. Through the SCU Global Social Benefit Incubator program, I provided free business consulting help to the amazing people and organizations that were accepted into the program. From this experience, I was completely inspired and hooked! I also learned I had been social entrepreneur for years as I started organizations to help make the world a better place and I now wanted to take my career in this direction as well. However, I had to find my great idea first. Hence the soul and market-gap searching began.
One night after another frustrated internet search looking for a charitable product I wanted to purchase (but could not find), my light bulb went off! Since there was no website where I could search all the latest charitable fashion products by product or by cause, I decided to create one. Think Shopstyle for charitable products. After 6 months of market research and completing my MBA thesis / business plan for shopgivve.com we launched on March 10, 2014. It was one of the best days of my life to see my baby and start living the dream I dreamt of for almost a year at that point.

 How has the site grown since your initial launch?  Has the mission changed?  

 On March 10, 2014, Givve launched with 10 amazing vendors who believed in my vision for shopgivve.com and took a chance with me. Today we still have those same 10 vendors and have added over 500 vendors since. Is so wonderful and humbling to have brands reaching out to us wanting to be a part of Givve! We are also growing the amount of Givvers visiting and shopping on the site. The more Givvers we get the more impact we make, plain and simple. Therefore, gaining Givvers and educating people about what we do is super important to expand out impact.
Regarding out mission, Givve launched with a clear mission and we have not wavered in our growth. Our mission is be the world’s leading marketplace for people to shop for charitable fashion products in order to maximize the amount of money donated to charity. Every decision is made with this mission in mind, down to the business model and other business decisions. If shopgivve.com was just a fashion site, the mission would not be as important but it’s so much more; it’s about making an impact and it’s just the beginning!

 How do you determine what charitable brands to showcase? 

First and most important, the brand needs to donate to a charitable cause. We have brands that do this in various ways, including: donating money directly to the charity through the purchase of an item, or the products are made sustainably and/ or in a safe and respectful environment (aka no trafficked labor/sweatshops), or the brand donates to charity in an aggregated way at the end of the year. However the brand Givves, we want to support their efforts by adding them to the world’s only marketplace of its kind and size to build exposure about the brand and ultimately create sales of their products.  After we vet the charitable element of the brand, we look at the ascetic. Does the brand have a unique, fashionable product? Is there a distinct design element? Is it different from other products on Givve? Would it be found in a major department store or chic boutique? If the answer is hell yes these questions, we add them to the Givve family.

 If you could by one thing off the website right now, what would it be? 

I love these Stella Valle earrings. They are strong, smart and sexy. Perfect for any #girlboss look.

22185-279x351


 Do you have a favorite charitable brand?

I love all the brands on Givve as they each have their own exceptional way of making their mark on the world. However, I have pulled some of my favorite items from the site on my Givve List.
By using our Givve Lists feature, our Givvers can create lists of products they love, or want to purchase, or what they want others to buy for them! It also allows users to share with others the products they like that support their cause.

 What do you hope people take away from visiting your site other than a stylish new product? 

We hope they take away that anyone can make an impact everyday through making a choice to buy a product that Givves back. You don’t need to sacrifice style to support your favorite cause. We also hope they learn about a new cause or organization making a change in the world and feel inspired to Givve more and get involved.


 Most millennials are finding that they need to find purpose in their work and feel like they’re making a positive impact. How do you recommend young people move forward in finding their personal purpose? 

I would start with what makes them happy and discovering the cause that they are passionate about. Once they know their cause, I would recommend looking up their company’s (or a company they want to work for) corporate social responsibility work and see if they can get involved in it or add their cause to the company mission. I have found most companies want engaged employees and they want positive PR; therefore an employee sponsored CSR project would be welcomed if not encouraged. I would caution that CSR work is often under-funded so I would encourage people interested in doing CSR work at their company come with a business plan for creating and executing the event/ project. This would include how to pay for the effort.

The other great way to fulfill your need to givve back is by working with a non-profit working in that cause area. No matter what your skill set, non-profits can always use passionate supporters that can add value. Therefore, if you find an organization that is making an impact in your cause area, I would reach out to their executive director and offer your help. Be sure to share your background, what you think you can bring to the organization and why you are passionate about what their organization is doing. This is a great way to learn more about your cause and make in impact without quitting your job and diving all in. This will allow you to see if the cause is really something you want to do spend more time working on in your personal and professional life.


 Do you have any advice for young people eager to make a difference in society? 

Just do it. Like so many people, I am passionate about making an impact in the world.  The difference for me, and my fellow social entrepreneurs, is we have turned our passion into action. Your product, website, organization will never be perfect but launch it and learn as you go. If an organization does not evolve as it learns more about its customers or its mission, it will not grow. I will advise future Givvers to balance your passion with the reality for making your business opportunity sustainable by creating a solid business plan, admitting what you don’t know and finding people who do to help you, and learning how to operate on less sleep and more stress. If social entrepreneurship was easy, everyone would do it. So if you want to follow your dream, go for it but make sure you keep strong on the follow through.


 Do you have a favorite social cause? 

This is a tough one. Part of the reason I structured Givve to feature an unlimited amount of causes was because like many people I know, I am passionate about so many important social causes. However there are a few those that are close to my heart because I feel they can have a ripple effect and make positive changes in so many other areas. Therefore some of my favorite social issues include: equality promotion, economic development (especially helping women gain economic freedom), ending human trafficking, providing educational opportunities and anti-smoking. First and foremost I feel that all people are created equal regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.  I feel sad for people who don’t feel this way as there is nothing to gain from hating people for no reason. And unfortunately that hate has a ripple effect through generations and across borders.

Secondly, I feel providing economic development for people is an absolute game changer. Before starting Givve, I studied peace and conflict studies and had a career in working to make this nation and the world a safer place. Through my national security work I learned terrorist will always be here and people will commit violence where there lack of opportunity, but if you provide the ability to have a job and provide for their families they will be less likely to engage in violence because they want to preserve the life they built. Therefore organizations providing jobs and economic development for people, specifically for disenfranchised women around the world are making such an amazing impact because one job creates a many ripple effects of change for good and breaks the cycle

My next passion is ending human trafficking. I was initially introduced to this issue in college when I learned about the horrific phenomenon of child soldiers at a student meeting with the organization Invisible Children while at the University of Southern California. This organization was started by a group of passionate students at USC who started making films about the atrocities happening to children when they are forced into rebel armies and forced to do drugs, rape and kill against their will. I remember feeling physically ill as I dove deeper into the issue and did advocacy work for the issue on campus. This sickness stayed with me and the opportunity to make my impact manifested a few years later to help sex trafficking victims in California. As a member of the Junior League of San Jose I served on the State Public Affairs Committee, which is a collation of Junior League members across 16 Leagues in California to effect legislative change in the areas of family support, health,  education  and violence prevention. Through SPAC, I met, worked with and advocated for human trafficking victims and worked on a small team to write bills to help these victims and one actually became a law.

Like economic development, advancing educational opportunities for people has a ripple effect for effecting generations of change. Education gives people freedom from the evils that keep them in the same place and education is a gift, a skill, an experience that no one can take from someone once they have it.

Finally, I am obnoxiously an anti-smoking advocate. At 8 years old, tearful read a eulogy I wrote from the heart at my grandmother’s funeral after she lost her life to lung cancer developed from her addiction to cigarettes. This experience is as painful and vivid today as it was 20 years ago but I turned that pain into advocacy and began organizing anti-smoking movements at my middle and high school that still exist today. Experiencing this at a young age sparked my lifelong passion to fight for social justice. To honor her memory and influence in my life, she inspired the Givve bow.

Three months before she died I visited her every day after school and we watched the Sound Music almost every time. In this classic movie, there is a song called, Favorite Things. In this song the protagonist Maria signs about her favorite things to cheer up the children during a thunder storm. In the song she mentions one of her favorite things is a brown paper package tied up with string. Hence our bow. It’s a way to immortalize her memory and those precious moments with her.


 What’s the future of Givve? 

Bright, exciting and impactful! We want to keep growing, keep givving and keep expanding into new opportunities through creative partnerships. We are always looking for new ways to educate our current and future Givvers about our platform so we are focusing on strategic partnerships this year as well as new ways to educate our customer about our products.

If you loved hearing from Ashley, then good news: Cup of Charisma will be featuring Givve List regularly with curated products that you can rock to give back to a cause. We’re all about using fashion for good here. 

AHP_3478 (1)

Take a peek at Ashley’s Givve List: 

HAVANA HALF MOON EARRINGS

by Stella Valle

CAUSE: 

22185-279x351

 

LIKE A BOSS ‘IDENTITY’ NECKLACE

by Nashelle

CAUSE: ,

 

idn48boss-long-circle-like-a-boss

 

HANNAH NECKLACE BY HALF UNITED

by Half United

CAUSE: ,,

Hannah-Necklace-SQ-279x351

 

PAT EARRINGS IN IRIDESCENT AGATE

by Kendra Scott

CAUSE: 

stonenestdrop-earring-gold-iridescentnaturalbandedagate-279x351

Related Posts

Comments

Tell me what you think!

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like