We can’t think of a better way to spend #GivingTuesday than sharing the story of University of Georgia grad Michelle Blue and Florida A&M Grad Sasha Matthews, the founders of Bene Scarves. While studying abroad in Ghana, Michelle discovered inspiring, local organizations that empowered girls through education. She knew she had to get involved, so she did what we all would – she enlisted the help of her bff! Roll the tape forward to the birth and phenomenal growth of this awesome ethical fashion and lifestyle brand which is committed to empowering girls in Ghana through education. The company uses its profits to sponsor tuition, books, supplies and uniforms which enable these girls to complete their secondary education and fulfill their dreams. It’s the perfect go to for a holiday gift with meaning. https://benescarves.com and @benescarves on Instagram.
Tell us about Bene. How do our purchases help make a difference?
Bene is a collection of scarves that help support girls in Ghana go through Secondary School. Through the purchase of each scarf, you help support tuition, uniforms, books and school supplies for each of our girls’ full matriculation.
Why did you choose to focus on education?
One of our girls, Munira said it best “Education is the Key to success in life”. We believe that by investing in education we are empowering these women by investing in and enabling dreams that would be a game changer for their lives, their families live and their communities. Unfortunately there are so many young women around the world without access to geting the education they deserve. Education changed the course of both our lives personally and we believe everyone should have the same access.
You knew you had a good idea. Who else did you have to convince? How did you do it?
Thankfully we’ve had a lot of support from the very beginning. The toughest conversations we’ve had to have is with mentors as they’ve challeneged our thought proccesses and business strategies along the way- rightfully so. In those relationships we always keep a posture that’s open to feedback and new perspectives to further develop as a business and business owners.
How did your partnership with SISTAworks come about?
The summer of my sophomore year in college I went on a study abroad trip to Ghana with my Fashion Merchandising program at the University of Georgia. A part of our trip included outreach where we got connected with the program and the girls in it. I was so moved and touched by their spirit and their stories and knew this is something we wanted to be a part of.
What’s trendy for fall?
Statement pieces seem to be trending this year. We’re seeing people accessorize more with chokers and of course scarves. We’re also seeing a lot of textures come back through like velvet, furs and ruffles.
What is a great on campus scarf look?
On campus calls for a bit more casual of a look. Throw a scarf over a solid basic dress or Jeans and a plain t-shirt and you’re outfit is at the next level.
How can I use a scarf to make my job interview outfit pop?
The beauty of our scarves is that it can be used both casually and professionally. There are several ways you can tie a scarf to add dimension to the outfit including letting it hang and just tucking it behind your collar if you have on a shirt, if you’re wearing a dress, throw it around your neck then add a belt over where it hangs on your waist.
If you could do college again, is there anything you would do differently to prepare you for founding and running Bene?
We started the ground work for this Benè in college. That was pivotal for us since we were really fresh to business and were financing everything ourselves. We utilized a lot of our resources on campus and our peers to help us get things done.
Just start! Definitely take the time to do your research but don’t let not knowing everything stop you because you’ll never know it all. If you’re in college, utilize the abundance of resources around you from your peers, professors, school programs/resources etc. Your friend that’s a graphic design student can help you create a logo or you can ask your professors a marketing question for your business, that network it invaluable and so accessible if you take advantage. The other piece of advice is after you start, keep going. It can seem overwhelming at times but if you keep chipping at it you’ll definitely see a difference as you move.
How can we help besides shopping of course? Do you have campus ambassadors? Do you hire interns? Do you do sorority trunk shows?
We do host trunk shows in people’s homes and community events, and locations such as private schools and churches. The easiest way to get involved is to share with your family and friends and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know would like to host us!