Oh, November. We instinctively associate you with crisp air, the holiday buzz starting to creep into our consciousness, reunions with loved ones, and of course, giving thanks. Yet we challenge our community to stop and consider how the notion of GIVING can be the purest example of being grateful. And who better to lead us into what giving really means, than Brit Gilmore, President of The Giving Keys, the LA based social enterprise, jewelry and lifestyle brand whose primary mission is to help employ others impacted by homelessness.
With a 288k+ Insta following, a team exceeding 70 employees, and revenues of $8.6 million last year, it’s obvious that The Giving Key's passion for merging fashion and philanthropy is speaking to consumers. Loudly.
Check out our interview with Brit below.
What does giving mean from a personal perspective and from a brand perspective?
To me, giving is one of the most human acts we can perform. Giving connects us to one another and gets us outside of ourselves. Giving means you are powerful enough to have something to offer and generous enough not to hoard it for yourself. You are conscious to the reality that your greatest possessions are better shared than kept. Giving gives me joy through surrender and reminds me that people are more important than things and connection is more important than accomplishment. The Giving Keys is built around this idea that life is richer when we keep our eyes open to the experiences and needs of others because then we have the opportunity to give and to support or encourage someone. Each one of our keys is stamped with a word of inspiration like love, strength or courage that is meant to be worn until you meet someone else who needs that word more than you. The giving of the key is a passing on of hope and inspiration. Small acts of generosity bond us, give us a sense of purpose, elevate our well-being and improve the lives of others. The Giving Keys exists to employ people transitioning out of homelessness to create products that inspire us to pay it forward.
What about giving of ourselves? To ourselves?
Giving of ourselves is so important to keeping us grounded, humble and connected to the people around us. How exhausting is it to fight for you own survival? How many moments of generosity or kindness helped you get to where you are? What would those moments have been like without the generosity and kindness of others? How much more enjoyable was your journey in the moments where you didn’t have to go it alone? The Giving Keys was really inspired by stories of people experiencing need, whether that was a woman fighting cancer that needed strength or a guy who was feeling suicidal and needed hope or a mom who felt like she lost herself and needed to dream again. Giving of ourselves relieves suffering for others. But we are not endless wells of giving and I’m sure you have experienced hitting the wall when it feels like you have nothing left to give. Giving to ourselves is equally as important. Though I wouldn’t necessarily use the language of “giving to ourselves”, rather, I would use the language of self-care which to me is knowing ourselves, setting healthy boundaries, knowing what we need and prioritizing that not only because we are all worthy of that but because self-care allows us to show up for others in powerful ways. In The Giving Keys Way, one of the documents that defines our company culture, we say ‘healthy people create healthy culture.’
How can people look at giving in a new way?
I love seeing more businesses entering the market with impact built into their model. I really believe cause based for-profits are the future. Giving consumers opportunities to give back in ways that flow with the lifestyles they’re already living through the products that they already need and use is a sustainable pathway to change. I am excited about the idea of a world where everything we spend money on is improving someone’s life rather than damaging it. Shopping social good brands is an option that we have now – you couldn’t really say that even 10 years ago.
Giving doesn’t always have to happen in traditional forms like donating money to a non-profit or volunteering at a homeless shelter (those are both great things to do though!). Maybe you have an incredible business management background or you’re a talented photographer or graphic designer. What would it look like to give your services pro-bono to one of your favorite causes? Community orgs and social good start ups can do so much more with good talent in the mix, maybe your skills are exactly what your favorite org needs to take what they do to the next level. And giving doesn’t always have to be big or take a lot of your time. At The Giving Keys one of our core values is Inspire – Paying it forward is the ripple effect that will change the world. One kind word, one phone call to someone you know you need to reconnect with, one encouraging text or a compliment to your barista, one key given away can have a ripple effect that you might never fully see. Keep your eyes open to the needs of those around you - you might have the privilege of changing someone’s life.
Want to learn more about Brit's mission and passion?
Check out her CCLA Sum and Substance story on her personal journey to finding purpose at work, via our YouTube Channel. Click Here.
The Giving Keys employs people who are transitioning out of homelessness to make necklaces from keys with engraved inspirational messages. They've sold more than 500,000 keys. Gilmore joined in 2012 and is now company president.