Today’s entrepreneurs are using leading-edge technology and social media platforms to launch their businesses, tools they need to successfully compete in a crowded international marketplace. Yet, founders are not abandoning their focus on giving back to the community, taking the TOMS Shoes one-for-one model to new heights. In fact, for many of today’s entrepreneurs, the desire to help those in need, served as the inspiration for founding their corporation. And this is very good news for needy communities.
We shine a spotlight on one start-up that has made community involvement and helping others a primary component of their corporate mission.
STATE Bags is a Brooklyn, NY startup that manufactures cool, colorful, stylish backpacks for men, women and children. Founders Jacqueline and Scot Tatelman were involved with disadvantaged kids before they founded their company. Several years ago they opened a summer camp for at-risk kids from Brooklyn. They were dismayed to see that they showed up with all of their belongings stuffed into paper or garbage bags. This formed the impetus of their “bag for a bag” program whereby for every backpack sold, a fully stocked backpack is given to a child in need. Jacqueline Tatelman points out that a tremendous psychological change takes place when these kids receive something new—they laugh, dance and relish the gift of something that is theirs. Many of these kids are not only taking care of themselves, but are also caring for their siblings, and in some cases, their parents. Just to have their own backpack, filled with goodies brings such a great smile to their hearts that they are lifted up to a place from where they can feel good about themselves. If this feeling can be captured and extended, they have a chance to succeed.
To date, STATE Bags has given away thousands of backpacks to needy kids in more than 30 cities across America. This summer alone, they intend to give away 30,000 backpacks. This is a testament to the company’s business success, and to the founders’ never-ending dedication to serving their community.