by Pauline Yang
Two years before she came to Chapman University, Amy Logan was already building up her global experience. Only a junior at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California at the time, Logan travelled around Guatemala over the summer with a non-profit organization called Direct Relief International, handing out medical supplies to areas of need.
Little did she know this trip would change not only her life, but also the lives of others.
“In the village of San Martin Chiquito, we met and got to know many of the women,” Logan said, “The relationship I established with these women made me realize how I wanted to help them more than just showing up once a year.”
Indeed, Logan did not forget.
Seeing what a big part weaving played in these women’s lives, Logan and her mother, Kathy Burt Logan, soon realized they could sell bags made out of the fabric the women were making. The profits would not only generate income for the women of San Martin Chiquito, but also provide education, buildings, healthcare, etc. that would help improve their quality of life.
And with that, the idea for JOJI Bags was born.
Logan returned to Guatemala the following two summers with another service organization called Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance. She reconnected with the women and was able to stay in touch through Xela. After a couple years, it became apparent that what started out as a project to provide income to women, JOJI Bags, would have a bigger impact as a business that could sustain the women’s empowerment programs.
The business got started by turning the women’s fabric into four different bags, but has since expanded to produce beaded bracelets, makeup style bags, clutches, belts, dog leashes and dog collars.
Logan’s goal is for JOJI Bags to become a lifestyle brand, as long as it continues to make the most revenue for the women.
JOJI Bags is an example of a cause-based company.
Media Arts Division Chair Janell Shearer had Logan as one of her desktop publishing students. Logan chose to focus on JOJI Bags for her client project, which Shearer found particularly interesting because it was very innovative.
“Amy’s business has a good position with a give back model that really appeals to people these days,” said Shearer. “That includes a good product, good citizenship and social responsibility.”
Here’s a look at other companies in Orange County that are doing the same thing.
Company headquarters. Click here to view the interactive map.
Sevenly is a Fullerton-based company founded in 2011 by Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez, who shared the core belief that “people matter.”
Every Monday morning, the company releases a new line of t-shirts and hoodies designed for the featured charity of the week. They are available for exactly seven days and for every item sold, Sevenly donates $7 to the charity. The company has managed to give away more than $3.9 million, which is roughly 30 percent of its total profits, and has helped more than 1.3 million people through various organizations.
The company not only runs its e-commerce business, but also helps create cottage businesses that produce crafted art and products that support funding and awareness for other causes.
“We constantly get inquiries by charities as well as for-profit businesses that are looking for a way to add a give-back component to their business model,” said Doris Neufeld, the social media manager at Sevenly.
Other organizations choose to operate as a non-profit with a business component to support their efforts. Krochet Kids intl., for example, is registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in order to focus more resources and financial investment into providing women in Peru and Uganda with “the assets, skills and knowledge they need to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.”
Its sales revenue funds the majority of its overall budget, allowing 100 percent of its public donations to go directly into the key program initiatives.
International Sanctuary, or iSanctuary, was also founded as a non-profit that aspires to end human trafficking and empower those who had been victims of it. iSanctuary helps girls and women reintegrate into their societies with newfound dignity and confidence through the making and selling of handcrafted jewelry.
The Orange County organization started out in 2007 helping Indian girls and enslaved people in Mumbai, India.
While these businesses focus on empowering those in need, their customers in each local community leave an equally positive impact.
“We all need to realize just how much purchasing power we have as consumers,” said Michelle Johnson, iSanctuary’s marketing and public relations coordinator. “We make a difference in what we choose to buy, and we all have the responsibility to know what goes into the production and sale of our goods.”