“Our decision to give back is at the heart of our business. We are the first marketplace of social goods that also donates to charity. Giving 10 percent of our total sales to a reputable non-profit each week blurs the line between for-profit and non-profit, and we believe that is the future of commerce.” – Co-Founder Lindsay Byers-Hirth.
Earlier this month two sisters, Lindsay Byers-Hirth and Kelli Byers fulfilled a shared dream by launching their new socially conscious company Society B. Society B curates the best, socially conscious products available today and sells them to consumers online while also giving back 10% of its sales to a new charity of the week, every week. The selection of products are beautiful and carefully chosen after extensive research to ensure that the products are either fair trade or give back and does good to a specific cause. This cuts out the tedious research for consumers and allows them to easily do good.
I had the opportunity to chat with one of the founders, Lindsay Byers-Hirth this week to learn more about the inspiration behind Society B and what differentiates Society B from other online for profit social enterprises. Here is what Lindsay had to say.
Me: What inspired you and your sister, two working moms, to start Society B?
Lindsay: In early 2000, while attending Iowa State University Kelli and I were both very engaged in charity and the spirit of giving back. We talked often about how wonderful it would be if we could create products to give back to charity. But realistically we didn’t have the time or the money. We held on to our dreams while starting a family and career in different states. Then, last Christmas Kelli and I were both home talking about our corporate jobs and how we both wish we had a better sense of purpose in our work. We were brainstorming ways to create something that would do good when we literally stumbled upon it. We were shopping in Fayetteville, Arkansas and came across a few products that give back from brands we hadn’t heard of before. And we realized that we wished we could find all those do-good brands in one place, and that was really our epiphany.
Me: Once you had the idea, what did you do next?
Lindsay: The tricky part was deciding how to incorporate giving into our business. We didn’t want to create just a marketplace of these products that do good without doing good ourselves. So we committed to giving back 10% of all sales, which is quite significant for a marketplace of multiple brands.
Me: How did you figure out what brands/products to offer on Society B? What kind of research was involved?
Lindsay: After we returned home from Christmas, Kelli and I did months of research online to find products that gave back. Once we had a list of potential products, we dug even deeper into the organization to make sure they gave back and fulfilled their claim. Both Kelli and I thought it was critical to make it easy for consumers to find true socially good products. By doing all the research on our end, we have made it easy for people to give back.
Me: Where do your products come from?
Lindsay: All the companies we work with are based in the United States yet cover either local or global causes. We found that it is much easier to research the legitimacy and ethical standards of an organization if it is based here. We are constantly researching and adding products yet it is a process. It took us six months to launch Society B.
Me: How did you come up with the name Society B for your business?
Lindsay: Society B comes from the notion that society benefits from this marketplace. B also signifies our last name, Byers.
Me: What makes Society B unique?
Lindsay: Society B is much more than just a social good marketplace. Our website is also a vehicle for educating consumers on some of the critical issues happening around the world such as the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis, being homeless in America, and what it is like to not have access to safe drinking water. All these stories are featured weekly in our blog on the site. We also share each brand’s personal story of how it is helping to make the world a better place. For instance, Sackcloth + Ashes who gives a blanket to a homeless shelter for every blanket purchased was founded when Bob Dalton learned in 2013 that his mother had become homeless. Another thing that makes Society B unique is that we carefully select a charity and cause each week to donate 10% of our sales. It is another way we can give back and do good.
Me: What are some of your favorite products?
Lindsay: We offer a wide variety of products for men, women and children, and I love them all! We’re also careful about choosing economical goods most of our goods are less than $100. However, if I have to pick a few favorites here they are!
For every purchase, HALF UNITED will donate 7 meals to a child in need.
Your purchase of a Pebble product provides employment to women through Hathay Bunano–a non-profit, fair trade organization that creates fairly paid, flexible jobs for poor and disadvantaged women in rural Bangladesh.
Carry hope. ESPEROS donates 10% of this purchase to help fund one year of education for a child in the developing world.
Hand in Hand Soap
For every product purchased from the Espere Collection, Hand in Hand provides essential small business loans, which empower entrepreneurs in developing countries to create jobs and strengthen their communities.
Sackcloth + Ashes
By purchasing this blanket, you will also be providing a blanket to a homeless shelter.
For each bag sold, a STATE Bag is hand-delivered, packed with essential tools for success, to an American child in need.
I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Lindsay and look forward to seeing where they take Society B. It is a brilliant concept and I know I will be visiting their site for my future holiday shopping.
To learn more or see their amazing lineup of products, visit: www.societyb.com.
I have added Society B to my “GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK” page on my blog. This is an ongoing list of amazing organizations that give back and is a great resource for gifts.
About the founders:
Lindsay Byers-Hirth worked in the non-profit sector for 10 years at organizations that include the Kansas University Endowment Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and a non-governmental organization based in Ethiopia. In 2011, she became a corporate writer for an education company. She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her husband, a business professor, and two children.
Kelli Byers lives in Austin, Texas. In addition to her work with Society B, Kelli is a personal stylist and a freelance copywriter. Her career includes experience managing e-commerce sites for apparel and accessories brands.