I was laid off this week from my job that I just returned to after a year of maternity leave. Oh yeah, I'm a (fairly) new mom too. Before we lay on the sympathy and start the pity party, let's keep some perspective. Have you ever read those articles where people say, "It's the best thing that ever happened to me!"? Well, I wouldn't push it that far. My wedding day and the birth of my son were pretty amazing, but overall, it isn't that bad!
Why? I think I knew awhile back that I wanted off this corporate train and, more specifically, out of the shallow end of the fashion industry pool. My move to London almost six years ago has given me the chance to travel and see a lot outside of my office bubble and the insight has been astounding. My work has taken me to developing countries where people live for a year on a fraction of what I have taken home in a month.
I remember one meeting in particular in India where I was complaining about a design detail not being perfect when, outside of the window, I saw two children walking barefoot down a dirt road. One looked to be about eight years old and the other maybe three or four. There was no adult in sight.
This was a turning point. I knew then that eventually I wanted to be a part of a different type of business where I felt good about the work, and where my time and energy gave back. I started researching which brought me to Start Something that Matters, an incredible book written by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie. In it he writes:
Conscious capitalism is about more than simply making money -- although it's about that too. It's about creating a successful business that also connects supporters to something that matters to them and that has great impact in the world.
It is a simple concept. Didn't we learn as kids to do what we love and to be nice to people? I knew after reading his book and some other wonderful articles exactly where I wanted to focus. It was time to start something that mattered! I partnered with a brilliant friend, and we developed our company trying to keep these ideas at the forefront of our business model.
Many people have praised us for our project. While I appreciate people's excitement which I share, I always reply with the conviction that what we are doing should be the norm. I think every company should be doing their part to make the world a better place. There is so much need around us. According to The United Nations, a staggering 76 million people require humanitarian assistance, and in recent years, this level has increased to a number not seen for generations. I don't think giving back a portion of profits makes someone great or is something that deserves loads of praise and celebration, I believe it makes business leaders into global citizens.
I think we as consumers are in such a commanding position, and we don't even realize it. Every day, we can vote with our wallets. I challenge everyone to do their research when making a purchase. Get to know where your money is going. Consider if it is helping out in some way or is it going to make more profit for a company who isn't doing their part to make the world a better place for us and future generations.
I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had to date and all of the amazing people I have met and learned from so far in this crazy fashion industry. With the door closing on my latest job, I am ready to jump head first into the world of conscious capitalism where I can begin challenging traditional business models. I know I'm ready.