Bella Vita Jewelry’s In the Garden necklace collection is available in nine different garden inspired pendant designs, made from molds of antique buttons. Photo courtesy of Bella Vita Jewelry.

Gift Shop Plus Summer 2023
Products with purpose: Gifts that give back By Regina Molaro

Companies are finding innovative ways of giving back through charitable partnerships, donating proceeds and more

Americans are renowned for their generosity.

There are various ways to give, such as volunteering, donating and shopping with a cause.

According to Forbes, “Both millennials and Gen Zers grew up in a world that encouraged recycling and social good. Instead of donating money directly to causes they care about, shoppers under the age of 40 prefer to give back through where they shop.”

Cone Communications cites that in an era of heightened consumer expectations, leading with cost or quality isn’t enough. When asked to choose between supporting purpose-driven, low-cost or quality brands, Americans chose products with purpose. Here are a handful of companies extending their reach here and abroad.

MILITARY-MINDED

Photo courtesy of R.Riveter.
Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse started R.Riveter as a way to provide employment for military spouses, whose transient lifestyle makes it difficult to find mobile, flexible income. Photo courtesy of R.Riveter.

R. Riveter’s brand name draws inspiration from Rosie the Riveter — the World War II icon who symbolizes the contribution women made to the workforce. Military wives Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse honored her strength and spirit through the launch of their company.

Since military families move, on average, every 2.9 years, Bradley and Cruse understood the challenges of finding meaningful employment. Military families often relocate to remote bases where there are fewer opportunities for spouses.

Photo courtesy of R.Riveter.
R.Riveter bag parts and pieces are made remotely across the country to provide military spouses with mobile, flexible income opportunities. Photo courtesy of R.Riveter.

After charging $2,000 each on their credit cards, the duo purchased a commercial sewing machine, some leather and canvas. They now offer a mobile, flexible income to more than 200 military spouses worldwide.

The R. Riveter collection includes handbags, totes, backpacks and beyond. Available online (rriveter.com) and at 42 boutiques nationwide; suggested retails range from $38 to $298. The company boasts flagship stores in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and has a Wauchula, Florida, shop opening in the fall.

“With all the stresses of moving, R. Riveter gives my family the peace of mind knowing that I have employment regardless of where we end up. Not only is the mobile income a huge perk, but I feel so fortunate to have a job that I can work around my family’s schedule,” said military wife Maureen.

Photo courtesy of R.Riveter.
Providing a mobile, flexible income to over 200 military spouses is the mission of R.Riveter. The collection includes handbags, totes, backpacks and more. Photo courtesy of R.Riveter.

WARM SENTIMENTS

For every purchase of the Kids Pouf and Mini Printed Plush, GooseWaddle Kids donates 2% to children in foster care. Photo courtesy of GooseWaddle Kids.
Mini Printed Plush. GooseWaddle Kids.

GooseWaddle, a luxury baby product company in Greenville, North Carolina, donates 2% of every sale to fund the purchase of blankets and plush to warm the hearts of children through its partner, Bethany Christian Services. It supports children and families in the U.S. and globally through foster care and family preservation, refugee services, adoption and more.

Parent company P&A Group is the owner of P&A Foundation, which benefits charities in North Carolina. “We feel strongly that we should build our communities and give back,” said Tina Weldon, vice president of GooseWaddle. As a child of adoption and a mom to an adopted child, Weldon is immersed in the cause.

“Often when children are removed from an environment, they’re unable to take many of their belongings. Since we create products that provide comfort and joy, we wanted to share this,” Weldon said. Soft knit blankets, printed plush and Pello Floor Cushions are top performers. Suggested retails are $32 for blankets, between $20 and $32 for plush and $140 for floor cushions.

GooseWaddle Kids Pouf. GooseWaddle Kids.
For every purchase of the Kids Pouf and Mini Printed Plush, GooseWaddle Kids donates 2% to children in foster care. Photo courtesy of GooseWaddle Kids.

SPECIAL NEEDS INITIATIVES

“Although giving back is a wonderful thing, providing jobs and enrichment programs for people with special needs through our partner, Pride Inc. is part of our mission,” said Michele Mangiacotti, president of her namesake company, which creates plant-based bath, body and home fragrance items. Beyond its “Made in America” status, the Attleboro, Massachusetts-based company reported that nearly all of its products are packaged with care by people with disabilities.

Photo courtesy of Mangiacotti.
Mangiacotti provides jobs and enrichment programs for people with special needs. Nearly all its products, including the newest hand-poured soy candles are packaged by people with disabilities. Photo courtesy of Mangiacotti.

“It was important for me to work with people with disabilities because of my aunt,” Mangiacotti said. “She was born with Down syndrome but eventually had the opportunity to work at a nurturing place much like Pride. They offered her a good job and their support services enabled her to become a confident, independent person. It was life-changing for her. I was inspired and wanted to offer that opportunity to others.”

Soy candles are Mangiacotti’s top-selling item. Hand-poured, they’re made with natural soy wax and essential oils. Since they burn soot-free, consumers can upcycle the vessels into vases or drinking glasses when the candles burn down. Available in lavender, lemon verbena, ocean, pomegranate, jasmine plum and clementine, they are offered in 7 oz. (40-hour burn; suggested retail $18) and 12 oz. (55-hour burn; suggested retail $24).

GLOBAL INITIATIVES

Napa, California-based LIKHA employs a different approach. It offers a collection of handwoven bags and baskets, planters, home decor, kitchenware and fashion accessories crafted by artisan communities in the Philippines. It provides people with a sustainable source of livelihood by bringing their wares to the global market.

“We strive to stay true to our artisans’ craft and tradition, honoring centuries-old craftsmanship passed on through generations,” said Nathalie Lim, founder of LIKHA. “We invite our artisans and communities along on the creative journey, fostering close collaboration and turning this into a process of co-creation. When you buy something, you’re also supporting a cause and casting a vote on what we as a society value.”

The company has been partnering with Guaranteed Fair-Trade Organizations and social enterprises in the Philippines since its inception in 2018. Its animal planters are its strongest sellers; suggested retails range from $35 and $70.

Photo courtesy of LIKHA.
The animal planters from LIKHA are just part of a collection of handwoven bags and baskets, planters, home decor, kitchenware and fashion accessories crafted by artisan communities in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of LIKHA.

BENEFICIAL BLING

A portion of sales from Little Rock, Arkansas-based Bella Vita Jewelry support the planting of wildflowers via a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s Project Wildflower Program. Renowned as “The Natural State,” Arkansas boasts more than 600 species of wildflowers. Bella Vita’s first donation was in 2019.

Bella Vita’s charity-based “In the Garden” collection features pendants that are cast from the mold of antique buttons. “Designer Brandy McNair turned her eye towards the past, to days when she and her grandmother Florine spent countless hours tending the garden and exploring Florine’s collection of antique buttons,” said Miki Elliott, wholesale manager at Bella Vita Jewelry.

The company’s Poppy Necklace is the most popular in the garden collection. Available in pewter or gold- plated metal options; the suggested retail is $38.

As people remain connected to the causes they believe in, more partnerships such as these will likely persist in the industry.


Featured photo: Bella Vita Jewelry’s In the Garden necklace collection is available in nine different garden inspired pendant designs, made from molds of antique buttons. Photo courtesy of Bella Vita Jewelry.

Regina Molaro

Regina Molaro is a freelance writer who covers art and design, fashion,beauty, and home décor. She can be reached at Reginacooper30@yahoo.com.




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