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    Business Giving Back: Coconut Whisk

    Business Giving Back: Coconut Whisk

    Today's interview is with Coconut Whisk, a local to us baking mix company started by two cool cats making vegan, nut free, soy free, gluten free, cruelty free treats which also gives back to the voiceless. It’s been super fun to watch Bella and Myles grow Coconut Whisk and cheer them on through all the big wins they’ve had this year. Get to know them today on the blog and follow them on social where they share their love of health, wellness, and personal inspiration

    Join us on Instagram 7/10 - 7/12/18 for a sweet giveaway with one winner getting $20 gift certificates to both Coconut Whisk and Bumbelou! 

     

    coconut whisk vegan baking co

    • When + how + why did your business begin?

    I got the idea for Coconut Whisk in the middle of a shower on January 10th 2018. The idea made me feel electric and so I pursued it relentlessly after consulting with my partner, Myles. We grabbed a big white poster board and started the process of creating a startup. We took baby steps and it grew from there.

    I always wanted to launch a vegan business but didn’t know what. Through blogging and creating vegan recipes, I’ve realized that I want to share this passion on a whole new level. We felt like the idea for Coconut Whisk aligned really well with our lifestyle and values so we took dived right in!

    vegan cookies by coconut whisk

    • Did you always know that giving back was going to be part of the mission of your business?

    Absolutely. Our pledge to give back to the voiceless keeps us moving forward, even on the hardest of days. Knowing that what we do is not just for the benefit of us, but for others, is what gives us the momentum and energy we need when things feel overwhelming.

     

    vegan baking mix company coconut whisk

    • What advice do you have for someone contemplating opening or starting their own business?

    I say if it FEELS right, go for it. If it feels exhilarating, expansive, joyful and aligned with your values and visions for your life, SAY YES. But don’t do it because you want to label yourself as a “business owner” or “CEO” or “Entrepreneur. It’s not glamorous on most days and it’s really hard work. But it’s worth it if you’re having fun. Also, dig deep to understand the genuine WHY behind your potential business.

    vegan pancakes coconut whisk

    • Do you have a personal mantra/quote/affirmation/motto that you use to help guide you in your daily life and decision making?

    “Always forward.” The word forward has so much hope and love in it. I’ve used it since my dance and performance days and it’s been a mantra that keeps me centered and always grateful for the possibilities ahead.

    baking vegan with kids

    • What is one of the best or most beneficial habits or practices you have as a business owner?

    Ahh, having an hour or two in the morning for ME. This is my sacred time to take care of myself so that I can show up as my best for others and Coconut Whisk. I like to journal, meditate, do yoga, read and organize during those early hours.

    - Bella + Myles 

    Find Coconut Whisk Online:
    Shop
    Facebook
    Instagram

    kids baking vegan

    Thank you Bella and Myles for sharing today! My family absolutely loves your treats and the easy experience of baking vegan together. You can read more from our Business Giving Back series here as well as the story of why Bumbelou was started with a mission of profit sharing to help children. 

    Join us on Instagram 7/10 - 7/12/18 for a sweet giveaway with one winner getting $20 gift certificates to both Coconut Whisk and Bumbelou! 

    Business Giving Back: MULXIPLY

    Business Giving Back: MULXIPLY

    MULXIPLY : Interrupting poverty by creating opportunity.  Made fairly and fashionably in Nepal. Today's Business Giving Back features Tanja's generous answers to our questions about running a sustainable fair trade business creating beautiful modern pieces. 

    Tanja is offering 20% OFF with code: bumbelou20 so you can try out some beautiful handcrafted MULXIPLY goods, valid now through 6/30/18.

    And stop over to Instagram to enter for a chance to win $50 in shop credits from both MULXIPLY AND BUMBELOU! winner selected 6/22/18. 

    • When + how + why did your business begin?
    There is a long and short answer to this question. I will give you the medium story. I had traveled with Sudara to do some design-consulting with their sewing projects in India. It was on these trips that I was exposed to the horrors of human trafficking and the pandemic that it is, particularly for women and children in the developing world. Each time I returned home from these trips, I was deeply affected and prompted to figure out a way to use my time and talent to work against modern slavery. As a designer in the fashion world, I was fully aware that my approach would be a creative one, which was exciting and also daunting. I finally left my career in 2010 to do more research on the issue of human trafficking in the South/Southeast Asia to further my understanding of why it was happening and what the best solutions were to preventing it. As a creative, I knew that my work would be focused on understanding job creation programs that were working with at-risk populations primarily in the handicraft sector. My journey is chronicled here: http://beautylostandfound.blogspot.com/2010/08/ -- I met so many incredible people, organizations, survivors, world-changers in those 4 months. I was inspired by the raw materials and the indigenous use of them in each country I visited. It was also extremely empowering to see lives that were changed by dignified employment -- entire families and then villages were transformed as a result of consistent fair wage income. Children could go to school. Literacy rates increased. Women could choose to go to college instead of be married off in their early teen years. Also, in villages that are both educated and economically sufficient, are far less at risk of falling prey to human trafficking schemes. All of this clicked and set the plans in motion for MULXIPLY.
     
    Once I returned to the US, it took about 10 months to really process all I had seen and to formulate an idea that could be sustainably impactful. I landed on this idea of creating modern fair trade accessories, that we would design and then collaborate with indigenous artisan groups using their heritage handicraft skills to make our designs. In doing so we were infusing existing artisan groups with ongoing financial support as well as promoting their skills to the western marketplace. Finally, in 2012, we went back to Nepal with our initial prototypes and solidified our first collaborations. Our first collection was a tiny offering of felt and leather pieces that look nothing like our current collection. 
     
    We've now been in business for 5 years and it's been a continuous learning experience. This year alone we infused nearly $100,000 in to the Nepali economy, one of the poorest countries in the world. We now have six artisan partnerships that we collaborate with, many who are now like family to us. We've added a jewelry team, two sewing teams, a leather groups and two felting teams. 80% of our artisan groups are women. Our collection is an ever-growing array of modern, minimal gifts and accessories which include the hand felted animals seen in these beautiful photos. 
     
    • Did you always know that giving back was going to be part of the mission of your business?
    Yes! The name MULXIPLY (pronounced "multiply") comes from the idea that it takes two to give -- someone to give and someone to receive. It's also built on the idea that Fashion X Fairness = opportunity. Giving is at the core of our business model -- we would not have a company without believing in the impact of fair wage employment and life-change that partnering with people not factories creates.
     
    • Tell us about your company structure. Who works with and/or for you?
    We keep our operations lean. There are 3 of us here in Portland, Maine where we run our day-to-day operations. Most of our team is in Nepal. We work closely with them via email or skype to go over new designs and production issues. We spend about a month in Nepal each year to research new ideas and just deepen our understanding of the country and pertinent issues. As mentioned above, we partner with six different teams. Four of them are smaller teams of about 20 people, the other teams are larger and support a village-based model where women are able to complete their work at home. All of our teams are fair wage and are vetted to ensure their artisans are fully invested in both financially and emotionally.
     
    • 4. In what ways has giving back impacted you, both personally and as a business owner?
    This is really meaningful work, but it's difficult. There have been so many uphill battles and moments when you question everything. But, spending time on the ground in Nepal is ALWAYS a reminder to WHY we do this. Most of the year we are pushing this business forward—figuring out growth patterns, forging relationships, crunching numbers -- all business. And then you get off the plane in Nepal and for an entire month it's all about people and sharing stories over tea. It's a consistent reminder that YES this is exactly where we need to be doing what we need to do. Also, as the west becomes more acutely aware of the perils of fast fashion, we are ever more committed to working with artisans -- people who sew and felt and forge by hand—for them it's not just another throw-away accessory but a piece that they are proud of making.

    • One of your favorite or most memorable moments/stories related to giving back?
    After the massive earthquakes that devastated Nepal in 2015 which killed nearly 10 thousand people and injured thousands more, I was really nervous about going, but we already had our tickets booked so off we went. That trip ended up being one of our best, simply because of the people. Kathmandu was really empty as there were no tourists. There were tent cities everywhere. The ground was still shaking. Monsoon season had begun. It was so hot and dirty and broken. The country was in rough shape and yet for the most part, people were choosing to not give up. In a country where the government offers very little to their citizens, Nepalis are very self-sufficient and very community-sufficient. They help each other. When we arrived we could tell that people in general were really looking to get back to some sort normalcy. They were open to talking about the quakes and how they and their families were affected, but they also wanted to talk about new things and new ideas. It's on that trip that we met our jewelry team and started working on our first collection. This relationship to this day is one of our most treasured aspects of this businesses. 
     
    One other story from that trip took place with the team that does a lot of our sewing and felting. We were chatting with a woman who was very quietly making tiny little felt hearts which would become part of our TicTacToe sets. Through an interpreter, we were able to ask her how she was doing and she replied, "Even though my heart is broken, making these little hearts gives me joy." I have a photo of her on my desk making those hearts and when I'm frustrated, she reminds me to find joy in the little things and rejoice in the powerful healing that creativity brings.
     
    • For individuals, families or businesses that are looking to get more involved with volunteering, profit sharing or other giving back type activities, what is some advice you’d share? How does someone get started?
    There are opportunities everywhere! You don't have to go to other side of the world, just find something close by. Find something that means something to you or your family and just dive in. My favorite thing is seeing young people catch the "giving" bug. Honestly, giving is rigged that way. It's meant to feel good. I love seeing people get to the end of themselves and see how much more rewarding it is to invest in people. The other thing I find very rewarding is just giving of your skills. You don't have to start a foundation or a non-profit -- just listen to how people in your lives need help and see how you can jump in. MULXIPLY would absolutely not exist without the generous support of friends that pitched in and continue to help out with various aspects of this business. 
     
    • What is one common misconception people have about the cause that your business helps support? 
    People think that MULXIPLY is a non-profit. We are not. I think because we have a social component to our business model, people somehow assume we are a non-profit. Also, as a business with a fair wage standard, we push hard against the stigma that fair trade has to look a bit "hippie" because it's global. Sure, it can, but part of our mission is to help contemporize age-old handicraft and show its relevance in the fashion world. Our business also gets snubbed because we aren't "Made in the USA". We are firm believers that how you spend your money will directly impact the world we live in as is evidenced by the negative impact of fast fashion. So, whether you are shopping locally or globally, know where your purchases come from and how they are made. It makes a difference. 
     
    • If you were starting your business over, is there anything you’d change?
    Yes, I would have a business advisor from the get-go. Particularly here in Maine, there are so many resources for small businesses. We stumbled so often in the early years (and still do), but when you are starting a business that you've never done before, it's best to ask as many questions as possible from people that have gone ahead of you. 
     
    • What advice do you have for someone contemplating opening or starting their own business?
    Get an advisor. Have a solid business plan. Spend money on developing a good brand. People are visual, so make sure your visuals are compelling. Make sure your product is both relevant and accessible. Ask for help. Ask for help again. It's going to be hard. Don't give up. Disconnect deliberately. And get good sleep!
     
    • Do you have a personal mantra/quote/affirmation/motto that you use to help guide you in your daily life and decision making?
    The first thing I see hanging on my wall when I open my bedroom door in the AM is a banner that says, "BE BRAVE". The other thing is PERSIST. (I even designed a jewelry collection after it). And always say thank you. It helps keeps this perspective that we are all somehow giving to each other to keep the world going. Gratefulness is always in style.
     
    • What is one of the best or most beneficial habits or practices you have as a business owner?
     I make physical lists on paper and cross things off. I know there are a million apps out there to digitize this task, but there is something very rewarding about crossing a completed task off a list. I also try to balance my lists with small tasks and big tasks so that I don't get discouraged with my progress. The other thing that's really important for me personally is to carve out time that's quiet and that I am alone in the studio. It's so important for my brain to have that time to think through things creatively. It's also good to be intentional about getting up off your duff to take a breather and do things completely unrelated to your business. 
     
    Thank you!
    Tanja

    Thank you Tanja for sharing today! Your heart to be a positive light in the world is so evident in your deep research and care put into developing MULXIPLY. You can read more from our Business Giving Back series here as well as the story of why Bumbelou was started with a mission of profit sharing to help children. 

     

    Tanja is offering 20% OFF with code: bumbelou20 so you can try out some beautiful handcrafted MULXIPLY goods, valid now through 6/30/18.

    And stop over to Instagram to enter for a chance to win $50 in shop credits from both MULXIPLY AND BUMBELOU! winner selected 6/22/18. 

    Visit MULXIPLY online:

    Shop
    Instagram
    Facebook

    Photos featuring MULXIPLY felted creatures + Bumbelou wardrobe taken by Greta Tucker.

     

    Business Giving Back : The Humble Co.

    Business Giving Back : The Humble Co.

    I love todays Business Giving Back story. Noel saw a need and acted and through The Humble Co. has helped children around the world with a product that is giving back, good for the environment, and beautiful too. - Jenna
    • When + how + why did your business begin?

    The Humble Co. started in 2014, as Noel was volunteering as a dentist in Jamaica and realised that 1) there were a lot of plastic toothbrushes washing up on beaches and 2) a lot of kids did not have access to something as simple as a toothbrush. The idea to start a company that does not only good for the environment but also social good by giving back was born and less than four years later The Humble Co. is the world’s largest producer of bamboo toothbrushes, present in more than 30 countries and 25,000 stores!

    • Did you always know that giving back was going to be part of the mission of your business?

    Short answer - yes. Not only do we find it an absolute necessity to give back to those who are in need, but we firmly believe that consumers favour brands with a strong social agenda. Consumers are not content with buying a product merely for its function, they want to know how it’s been made and by whom.

    • One of your favorite or most memorable moments/stories related to giving back?

    Witnessing first-hand how children in poorer countries are thankful for the smallest of gifts, which we in our part of the world take for granted.

    • What is one common misconception people have about the cause that your business helps support?

    The medical necessity of it. Caries is the world’s most prevalent disease, which can lead to terrible diseases, complications and not least pain if not treated properly.

     

    Thanks to Noel Abdayem for being an inspirational business who makes it a mission to give back. You can read more from our series here as well as the story of why Bumbelou was started with a mission of profit sharing to help children. 

    www.thehumble.co

    Instagram @TheHumble.Co.

    Business Giving Back : Starling Project

    Business Giving Back : Starling Project

    Sometimes the devastation and need in the world can feel so much bigger than we are, but today's interview with The Starling Project reminds me that we all have power to impact. 
    I hope you enjoy today's interview with Sterling McDavid who took the simple idea of Light For Light and created a woman owned and operated company that has provided over 200k to UNICEF in just 2 years benefiting solar projects in Chad and Rwanda. 
    - Jenna
    starling candle project
    • When + how + why did your business begin?

      I started my career at Goldman Sachs and ultimately found myself seeking more meaningful work outside of my day job. Ultimately, a friend introduced me to UNICEF and invited me to an event. Right off the bat, I was incredibly impressed with the non-profit which saves more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. I finally joined UNICEF's Next Generation Steering Committee which is a group of young professionals working together to spread awareness and fundraise for UNICEF.  I was asked to go on a field visit to Vietnam with UNICEF where I saw the impact solar energy had on developing communities. I realized that if I spent as many hours working for the impoverished communities I saw as I was at Goldman, I could make meaningful difference in the world. I put in my two weeks notice upon my return and started working on a social impact business concept. It took me some time to figure out what exactly the business would look like, what I would be selling, how I was going to structure the giveback, etc. but I knew solar energy was where I wanted to focus my efforts.  It was when I was working in Paris, a candle and fragrance-junkie's dream, that it hit me: candles would be a perfect product to give back to solar energy. The idea was light for light.  After that, it was all about creating the perfect candle.  I didn’t want there to be any chemicals in it, I wanted it to burn evenly, and I wanted the glass and packaging to come from recycled materials.  I feel I accomplished that and truly believe we have one of the highest-quality candles on the market today. Plus, what is better than giving back! The Starling Project has given over $200k to UNICEF since our launch 2 years ago which is helping benefit solar projects in Chad and Rwanda.

      businesses that give back with a mission

      • Tell us about your company structure. Who works with and/or for you? 

        I’m proud to say that The Starling Project is women-owned and operated as our team is made up of only women.  Natalie Makous is our Director of Business Development and Partnerships and covers daily operations, including retail planning, product development, event planning, partnerships, marketing, and social media efforts.  We also have Shannel and Arika who help create and deliver social media and other digital content. It is empowering to work with women who have such creative, thoughtful ideas and who believe so much in this company. We are an incredible support system making a difference in this world! I couldn't do it without them. We are also thankful for our manufacturing partners who have been supportive from the start and are critical in making our vision a reality.

        sterling mcdonald

        • One of your favorite or most memorable moments/stories related to giving back?

          One of my most memorable moments, not just related to giving back, but in life in general, was meeting one of the women whose life I have positively impacted. I was on a field visit with UNICEF to Kenya and we were visiting a low-income community where solar was being used to power a local health center. The women invited us into her small home where she introduced us to her newborn. She said she and her daughter would not be alive today if it was not for the help of the doctors and nurses in the health facility because she had a high-risk birth and complications with delivery. The solar health center did not exist a year ago, but because of its existence she was able to seek the treatment she required for a healthy birth. How incredible to think that the work we are doing can help in so many different ways! Which leads me to the next question...

          • What is one common misconception people have about the cause that your business helps support?

            I think people might sometimes not fully understand the impact solar energy has on a developing community. It does so much beyond keeping the lights on, which is obviously valuable, but there are other ways solar helps.  One example is that solar can power pipes to provide clean drinking water to communities that do not have access to safe water. When a system like this is provided to a community, women and young girls don’t need to walk long distances to retrieve safe drinking water for their families, lowering the risk of them being raped or killed along the way. Additionally, it allows those young girls to be in school during the day rather than spending a majority of the day retrieving water, which is often the case prior to these systems being put in place.  Safe drinking water also helps keep children safe from preventable, yet fatal, diseases like cholera and diarrhea. With children getting sick less and less often, they can go back to school and parents can go back to work, which has a huge impact on the development of these communities and the potential of their residents. Solar energy also has the ability to power hospitals, including the machinery necessary for procedures and refrigeration of life-saving vaccines. Finally, solar is low-maintenance and can last for decades, which makes these solutions to issues a long-term fix, which is critical.

            starling candles a woman owned company
            • Do you have a personal mantra/quote/affirmation/motto that you use to help guide you in your daily life and decision making?

              "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi  

              I believe so strongly that in order to see positive change in the world, we have to be the change ourselves. I can't wait around for someone else to make a difference in impoverished communities, I have to be the one to do it. Even if I am only making a dent, I am making other people's lives easier and safer and that is at the core of every decision I make.


              Find Staling Project Online: 

              Website: www.starlingproject.org
              Instagram: @starlingproject

              Starling Project candles make a great gift or add luminescence to your day!

              Enjoy 15% off with code: starlinglovesbumbelou
              * this is not a kickback or affiliate link. 

               

              Follow our series called Business Giving Back to check out other thoughtful, creative, and inspiring business women who lead companies with missions impacting the world for good. We share and support women who we believe in and offer incredible products and services that we know you'll love too! 

              Bumbelou's Business Giving Back Story 

              Business Giving Back: Adelisa & Co.

              Business Giving Back: Adelisa & Co.

              I'm so thrilled to be sharing our first interview following Bumbelou's pilot post in the series we are calling Business Giving Back where we highlight and interview companies who are using their talents, running incredible companies, and creating social good in the world. It is at the core of my beliefs that we can all find ways to be a bright spot and lift up others. 

              Today we share the story of Adelisa and Co. If you haven't already seen their adorable (taking the shop small world by storm) leather shoes for both little and mama or macrame hammocks yet you are in for a huge treat! Allison & Rachel are making an impact through ethical handmade production in Nicaragua and creating lasting change for those families. 
              - Jenna

              adelisa and co a business that handmakes shoes

              • When + how + why did your business begin?

                The idea for our business was first formed while Rachel and her family were down visiting us in Nicaragua. One of our favourite things to do when she visited was explore the local artisan’s market together. Every time we went, it was impressed on us how artistic and talented the people are here. Rachel is definitely the natural entrepreneur of the two of us and she envisioned right away a shop that could connect others with this talent.

                The more we hashed out the idea the more excited we got. We saw so much potential and knew that teaming up together with these talented artisans, using high quality materials and creating designs we knew other moms like us would love, could create something amazing and unique.

                adelisa and co. handmade profit sharing for good

                • Did you always know that giving back was going to be part of the mission of your business?

                  Giving back to the beautiful country our products come from has always been a goal that is the heart and center of our business. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. As moms, Rachel and I both loved the thought that together with the help of mothers around the world who support our shop, we could help young families in need.

                  • Who works with and/or for you?

                    Another goal that we have had since the beginning is working directly with our artisans to produce our products. Making sure they were paid fairly for their work and being able to work with them one on one to create unique designs and quality products was important to us. Our shop started with one young cobbler and a family that had been making hammocks for over 65 years. Since then, our team has grown to include so many other talented individuals that we are proud to partner with.

                    handmade shoes for toddlers

                    • In what ways has giving back impacted you, both personally and as a business owner?

                      I think giving back has impacted us in a number of ways both personally and as business owners. Running a business is not easy and there’s a lot of challenging things behind the scenes that people don’t see. I think a lot of the issues, complications and even exhaustion we’ve faced while growing this business would have caused us to question whether we should keep going under different circumstances.

                      For us, helping families in need through our donations and seeing the change in our artisan’s lives refreshes and challenges us to keep going and pushing ourselves. It’s truly been an amazing experience for us to see how the lives of so many families have been positively impacted along the way. Knowing that this little business is for a greater cause and knowing that it affects so many families apart from ours has given us a different perspective of why we do what we do.

                      • Do you have a personal mantra/quote/affirmation/motto that you use to help guide you in your daily life and decision making?

                        After living in Nicaragua for over 8 years, and seeing all the needs here it can feel overwhelming at times. Even deciding where donations should go feels like a huge responsibility when there is so much we could do. Sometimes, it feels like we’re not even doing that much in the grand scheme of things. When I’m feeling that way, I often think of a quote I heard once that said, “you can’t change the world, but you can change one person’s world.” We try to always remember that making a positive impact in even one person’s life is always worth the work we do.


                        Allison & Rachel, Xx

                        Shop: Adelisa & Co.
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