You know how there are certain people that come into your life, and you just know they were put in your life for a reason? That’s the behind the scene story for this month’s Charity: No One Without (“N.O.W.”).
Gaston, founder of N.O.W., used to be a full time real estate investor, and indeed thought that was what he would do for the rest of his life. His ultimate career plans changed, however, when he drove to Los Angeles on a mission trip with his church in 2009, and experienced the pain and suffering of the homeless through new eyes. After sharing breakfast with a homeless man, Gaston knew he had to do something different with this life, something that involved putting others first. The question was, how does he do that? The answer started to become apparent after he received a pair of TOMS shoes for his birthday, and the model of ONE-for-ONE blew him away. For those unaware, for every TOMS pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to those most in need of them. Gaston thought of doing the same, but with clothes. But he wanted to take that model a step further: why not support non profits that are doing amazing work in various meaningful areas while you’re at it?
In the words of Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Cue Kelli. Gaston and Kelli met through a mutual friend, and they were instantly connected through their passions, their ideas, and their desire to make something happen that could have a real impact. As N.O.W.’s Director of Operations, Kelli makes it all happen. Gaston’s dreams and business sense, combined with Kelli’s relationship building strategies (not to mention prior work experience with TOMS!), were the perfect combination. Through this partnership, N.O.W. began to take shape, launched, and is beginning to help make a difference.
N.O.W. was founded as a “for purpose” company, meaning that the motivating factor is not “for profit” or “not for profit,” but rather “for the greater good.” How does it do this? For every product purchased, 20% of that purchase goes directly to funding efforts of N.O.W.’s non-profit partners. One of the great things about how N.O.W. is set up is that it does not restrict who they are helping. This is something I struggle with in trying to figure out what I want to do with my career: there are so many challenges in this world, and so many areas that I feel I could dedicate myself to, how could I pick just one? Well, N.O.W. found a way around this: help them all! N.O.W. can pick non-profit partners involved in so many different facets of work, and support each of them through “purpose driven consumerism.”
As of now, N.O.W.’s non-profit partners include:
  • More than Me (getting girls off the streets and into schools in Liberia, West Africa);
  • These Numbers have Faces (providing college scholarships to local Cape Town universities);
  • Thirst Project (raising awareness and money to provide clean drinking water); and
  • the Chisomo Idea (connecting privileged young to issues of poverty in Africa and providing them with a framework for action).

Not a bad group, huh?!

N.O.W. is off to a solid start, and as Kelli said: “there’s nowhere to go but up.” They are looking to expand their clothing line, as well as working with advisors in the fashion world and funding some great projects.
So what can you do? Check out N.O.W.’s store to see how you can become a purpose driven consumer. Like them on Facebook. Join them on Twitter. And most importantly, check out how you can help N.O.W. earn $5,000.00 to allow them build their line (which will give you more shopping options in the future and more ways to be a purpose driven consumer!). They have 27 days as of today to raise $4,174.00. As I like to say, no amount is too small…every $5 counts :)
This blog is already verging on the long side, but a huge thank you to Gaston and Kelli for taking the time to answer my questions, and letting this blog take “Charity of the Month” one step further than it’s ever gone before.