I LOVE THAT YOUR BRAND WAS DRIVEN BY THE NEED TO HELP OTHERS. HOW HAVE YOU INCORPORATED YOUR EXPERIENCE IN GHANA INTO THE FRAMEWORK FOR BENÉ?
We’ve set up the business so that a portion of proceeds from the sales of the scarves goes directly to sponsoring the education of females in Ghana. Through a great organization called Sistaworks, we’ve committed to providing five girls with tuition, books, supplies and uniforms so they are able to attend school and graduate. We’ve been a business for two years, so next year they’ll have their graduation. And once that happens, we’ll get a new batch of girls to support.
WOULD THE GIRLS NOT NORMALLY HAVE ACCESS TO EDUCATION?
In Ghana typically everyone goes to primary school, but families can’t afford secondary school. The boys receive preference on continuing education and the girls are required to stay at home and handle domestic duties. It’s a big issue and one we wanted to shine a light on. It’s crazy to think that we would never have known the impact we could make if we’d just gotten stuck in the fear of how huge the poverty issue is in Africa. Instead, we focused on what we could do with what we had and just went from there.
HOW DID YOU GET OVER THAT FEAR?
The reality is that it is a big issue and you need to recognize that and whilst you can’t do everything, you can do something. Everyone’s situation is different and not everyone can do this full-time, but it’s about doing what you can in the position you’re in. Whether it’s working on a project part-time or volunteering on the weekend – every incremental thing you do can still have an impact.
I was fortunate that I didn’t have any loans from school and I could live at home with my family and just give it a shot. If it didn’t work out, then at least I would have helped these girls out as much as I could during the process. I just want to live life without regrets.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE SO FAR?
I would say marketing has been our biggest hurdle. You can have the greatest product and greatest mission, but if no one knows about you, then you have nothing. It’s been such a hustle to get the brand name out there because there are so many other brands vying for that same consumer attention.
WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF IT ALL?
Just being able to do what I love. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I enjoy every second of it, even the obstacles, because I’m building something from scratch and that’s so rewarding. Also, to see the impact that we have on these girls is pretty incredible and is what drives me day to day.