Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson, founders of the Kind Campaign, are proof that you can't stop women on a mission.
Their company exists to "(bring) awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl "crime." Lauren and Molly connected after realizing they had both been victims of bullying in the past. They wanted to shift the conversation around how we view bullying among girls. So they started by making their documentary in 2009 as students at Pepperdine University which evolved into their nonprofit company and worldwide movement.
Like many victims, Lauren shared that getting bullied "put [her] in such a dark space." But bullying has deeper, less obvious impacts. According to Molly, bullied girls "are dealing with depression, their grades are falling, they're cutting themselves, they have eating disorders, thoughts of suicide, or they know someone who committed suicide." These factors cause "long-lasting emotional effects of who they become as a person."
Their movement has influenced many girls and women but growing it wasn't easy. Molly mentioned that building their business involved "a lot of hustling and sleepless nights; we just pulled all-nighters because we had to."
Here are some of the biggest lessons they learned.
1. Choose the words for your message carefully. Lauren and Molly wanted to use language that reflected the true severity of bullying. "We were very intentional to call it girl-against-girl "crime" (versus just bullying). Bullying wasn't the conversation piece that it is today. It was accepted as a rite of passage...girls were expected to deal with this at certain points in their lives." They knew they found the right message "when [they] said it out loud and felt it."
2. Be selective when choosing business growth opportunities. The ladies make sure the "Kind campaign's heart is at the center of everything" when making business decisions. Molly said that they asked themselves, "Will this relationship, partnership, or collaboration, ultimately help us reach more girls that we want to? Will this impact girls in schools in a positive way?"
This mindset equipped them to handle major visibility especially from one special moment at the 2014 Emmy Awards. Lauren's husband, actor Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, mentioned the Kind Campaign at the end of his acceptance speech. The ladies did not expect it so it was especially touching. It led to "getting offers for things and invites to do these different shows" Molly said, yet the ladies chose to be very "intentional" about which ones they accepted. How did they stay so grounded? She explained, "I think that could have been an even crazier time; we could have felt overwhelmed but our focus has been and will be the work we do."
3. Don't let yourself grow too big too fast. One of their brand values is to make everything feel personal. So, when they started gaining traction, Lauren revealed they focused on "figuring out how to grow...but keeping the grassroots element intact." This ensured that they don't "outgrow who [they] are and don't become something that [they] didn't set out to become."
4. Have a "whatever it takes" attitude when spreading your message. Like many entrepreneurs, they originally "did everything themselves." They visited coffee shops and businesses leaving handouts behind and "putting up stickers, billboards [and] posters." In fondly describing those early days, Lauren said she "wouldn't change the hustle [they] had to go through for anything."
5. Build your online presence. Lauren stated that from the start, they "knew [they] wanted to make it a nonprofit and movement so [they] created a social media presence." Establishing themselves online aided them "with networking all over the country," and both ladies agree that it "opened doors." But it was equally important to make a community online that "built a safe space for girls and women to use as a resource."
Lauren and Molly prove that you can turn your business into a movement. And that makes for an incredible, powerful journey.