Business Giving Back : Bumbelou

Business Giving Back : Bumbelou

Today I'm sharing with you the story of why I started Bumbelou and why from day one my mission behind the brand was to use profits to support and empower girls. I hope you enjoy learning more about the origins of Bumbelou and our mission. This is also the pilot post on a series I’m calling Business Giving Back where I share some of my favorite businesses with missions of creating social good in the world. Stay tuned for our next feature coming soon!

bumbelou Jenna Odegard

From an early age I knew I was interested in art and creating things. I got behind a sewing machine at age 4 (as the mother of a 4 year old right now I can’t imagine how trusting my mother must have been, thanks mom!). But for a really long time I had no idea what following my passion would look like. At the age of 17 I discovered Etsy, remembered I had access to my mom’s sewing machine, and threw caution to the wind when I set up my first shop. It took about 2 years of playing around to realize I was making more money selling handmade items online than in my nearly full time retail job, I enjoyed what I was doing, and was more afraid of missing out on a creative endeavor opportunity than I was of facing the societal pressures of being considered a college drop out. So I ended my college experience before it really even started and found myself in a thriving handmade business.

I ran that business for 8 ½ years, when I found myself in the perfect opportunity to sell it. It was a hard decision to sell my baby, this business I had raised up, but the timing was perfect as we were just welcoming our first real baby into the family. My husband and I both dreamed of me being a stay at home mom and I was excited for a change. What I didn’t know was that the birth of my first child would throw me into a deep postpartum depression, give me years of anxiety, and send me down a path of not recognizing myself. I was truly lost and it was the darkest time in my life.

bumbelou handmade studio

Out of this time I was given some encouragement to start creating again. I bought myself a sewing machine, some fabric, and did some small product development and contract work, and while my baby napped (rarely) I worked on the first little headbands which were all just for my beautiful little girl. Within a matter of weeks I was coming alive like I hadn’t felt in close to two years. I was reconnecting with the powerful, creative energy at the core of myself.

One of the most humbling things I’ve ever had to do was on the day I admitted to myself that I was a great mother, but wanted my life to be about more than motherhood and being a stay at home mom just wasn’t working out for me. I wanted to be in touch with my creative self, with my desire to be a continual learner, with my love for taking a concept and turning it into a brand and a product. On that day when I decided I would go for yet another dream I had so much peace, I had so much gratitude for a second chance, and I knew that I wanted to commit to using my gifts to make the world a brighter place.

bumbelou custom childrens clothing handmade in minnesota

And now comes a story that brings us back in time again that was instrumental in why I choose our mission of empowering girls through Bumbelou’s profit sharing.

As a teen I worked in a restaurant where I was the only female working in the kitchen because that was the job I went after thinking it might help me get into culinary school someday (still figuring out my passions). I was often treated poorly, but I worked hard and gave it my all and I moved up. One day a  co-worker asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated high school. I told him either culinary school or a career in fashion. He busted out laughing like what I just told him was a joke. I stood my ground, but for whatever reason he used hateful words and told me I would never make it. I was crushed by that person's comments. It gave me insecurities and in a vulnerable young age I believed him.

Many years passed where I continued to hold shame about my dreams before I recalled that story, and when I did it hit me so hard. I had believed him for so long. I had let myself think that even as I was succeeding it really couldn’t be true, and that I had no business really following my dreams. That exchange shook me deeply and made me so passionate about encouraging girls to follow their dreams, to give them the tools and opportunities, and to set an example that living a life of being brave and bold is possible.

bumbelou handmade childrens clothing

I believe in a world where every girl feels empowered to be her best self!

I picked Compassion International to be my mode of giving because they are highly respected and do incredible work throughout the world. Bumbelou sponsors individual children and also gives money to funds which are made available to help children in crisis. Children are the future of the world and Compassion helps give them clothing, food, education, and a connection with Christ. I pray that the girls we sponsor will grow up knowing that there are people around the world cheering them on, believing they can use their lives to make a positive impact as well, and creating a ripple effect of hope for future generations.

Bumbelou was built on grace, humility, second chances, and a desire to be a bright cheerful light because clothing should be more than just beautiful.

- Jenna / Founder of Bumbelou


Do you know of  a great company who has a mission impacting the world for good? We would love to add them to our interview calendar! 

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