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February 23 2018

Looking Beyond The Brand By Guest Blogger, Veronica Baas

Buying something that has been on the shopping list for a long time or something that really completes an outfit is satisfying. But there’s nothing like the feeling of buying something that helps make a difference in the community. There are hundreds of brands today that help make a difference. Here are a few to explore on your next shopping trip:

Clothing

Spiritual Gangster is a yoga-inspired clothing company founded on the idea that all beings deserve equality and freedom. Former yoga instructors Vanessa and Ian Lopatin founded the company in 2008, and have continued to find ways to promote positive living through the brand.

Part of their mission is to fight world hunger. They donate to charities such as Feeding America, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Make a Wish Foundation. The company recently announced it has helped provide more than 10 million meals to people across the country through its partnership with Feeding America that began in 2011.

Ivory Ella is an online women’s clothing store. It was founded in 2015 in partnership with Save The Elephants. This organization helps work with global groups to stop elephant poaching and end the ivory trade. It also helps scientists study elephant behavior, intelligence and long-distance movement.

The company is named after Ella, an elephant in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Ivory Ella sells sweatshirts, T-shirts and other items with its signature elephant logo. The company donates 10 percent of its net profits. To date, it has donated more than $1.3 million to Save The Elephants and related causes.

Patagonia formed decades ago with the idea of selling sustainable clothing while helping the environment. Californian rock climber Yvon Chouinard founded the company in 1973. At the time, most climbers wore dull shades of grey and brown. Chouinard broke through the scene with brightly colored shirts and jackets and created a new fashion craze among the climbing community.
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Patagonia gives 1 percent of its sales to environmental organizations. So far, the company has donated $89 million for environmental work since its donation program started in 1985. The company takes back its clothing for recycling and reuse, and it helps support the Fair Trade USA program. Last year, Patagonia awarded 954 environmental groups grants and helped save 193,000 gallons of water through its venture capital fund.

Accessories

For every pair of Warby Parker glasses sold, the company buys glasses for someone in need. The best part is, they’re affordable. The company was founded in 2010 by a group of former students at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Since launching in 2011, they’ve sold 100,000 pairs of glasses and expanded into 30 U.S. locations.

The company partners with the nonprofit organization VisionSpring which helps people in need get glasses and conducts school vision screenings. They also created a program called Pupils Project, which works with schools in New York City and Baltimore to provide free eye exams and glasses to schoolchildren. So far, Warby Parker has distributed more than 3 million pairs of glasses through its Buy a pair, Give a pair program.

STATE bags is a project by husband and wife duo Scot and Jacq Tatelman from Brooklyn, New York City. The Tatelmans first started giving back through their nonprofit organization Country Roads Foundation, which helps send kinds from the city to summer camps. Jacq Tatelman told Forbes.com that a girl on one summer camp trip had all of her belongings in a trash bag that ripped and left her clothing strewn everywhere. Borrowing the one-for-one business model, the Tatelmans decided to pursue a company where for every bag sold, another is filled with school supplies and donated.

STATE bags are sold online and through their partnership with Nordstrom. The bag company had exclusive launches in the past with Star Wars, the Chicago White Socks and Beyoncé. It also hosts Bag Drops across the country, which are motivational events that end with bag donations. The company’s Bag Drop event in Chicago helped more than 40,000 kids get the supplies they need for going back to school.

Home Goods

The Company Store has stocked homes with high quality bedding for more than 100 years. The business has manufactured blankets and comforters in its La Crosse, Wisconsin factory since 1911 in the style the Scandinavians used when they first immigrated to America. Their products are made using natural cotton and European down.

The company supports a variety of organizations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Ronald McDonald House New York and Operation Homefront. It also has a buy one, give one program where for every comforter sold another is donated to a homeless child. The program has so far donated more than 16,000 comforters to children in need.

Good Spread focuses on classic, organic peanut butter. The Colorado-based company launched in the spring of 2011 with the help and encouragement of MANA Nutrition. Its goal is to help children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a leading cause of death for more than 2.6 million children annually.

For every peanut butter purchase, Good Spread donates MANA therapeutic food to a child in need. The company has four flavors to choose from Salted Honey, Chocolate Pretzel, Honey Banana and Unsweetened Probiotic Peanut Butter. Buyers have helped the company donate 123,500 packets of therapeutic food so far, which has helped save 1,235 lives.

Shoppers can help those in need gain access to clean water through a purchase at Faucet Face. This company decided to take on the bottled water company by selling stylish, reusable glass bottles. Their bottles have a BPA-free cap, and they help people save up to $334 a year on bottled water.

Faucet Face donates 2.5 percent of sales of all its glass and stainless steel bottles. It also donates a complete water filter with the sale of five or more water bottles to the organization Third Millennium Awakening. Their donations help villagers in India gain access to water cleaned of 90 to 95 percent of its impurities.

Ten Thousand Villages sells a variety of products from 20,000 artisans in 30 developing countries. The nonprofit was founded in 1946, and it’s one of the oldest and largest fair trade organizations today. The organization was formed with Mennonite values in mind such as compassion, service and peacemaking. It encourages its artisans to use recycled materials and use environmentally sustainable production methods.

To date, sales from Ten Thousand Villages have helped generate $140 million in income to those who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. The organization has locations across the U.S. and Canada selling everything from intricately detailed teacups, colorful earrings from Peru and handmade games from India.

Investing in meaningful mission statements does more than benefit the cause at hand, it makes you feel better too. With so many companies actively giving back, finding brands to support is easier than it sounds. You can start with these nine.

Veronica Baas is a recent Colorado State University graduate who just moved to Arizona pursuing more advanced coding skills. She has spent her life traveling as a pilot’s daughter and lived in the UK as part of a study abroad program. Follow her other writing and photography endeavors on her website.

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