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How To Run A Business by Giving Back 75%

it's Thursday // March 10th, 2016

I get this question – accompanied by a concerned look – whenever I tell someone about The Simple Cup. “If you are giving back 75% of profits, how are you making any money?”  In my eyes, that’s the wrong question. What they should be asking is, “If you are giving back 75% of profits, how many lives are you changing?”

Here’s Some Background

I created The Simple Cup over 2 years ago. I would spend my final college semester creating and building a brand for a “fictitious” business. I knew I wanted to create something for real. Something tangible, something that I could continue to grow and maintain long after I graduated. I knew I wanted to use this time and opportunity to build something that I could utilize as a creative way to start really giving back – a design for good situation.

How We Are Giving Back

Currently, 3-4 times a year (depending on sales) we donate 75% of profits to our nonprofit partner Fields of Hope – who are doing amazing things in Ethiopia for both women and children. Over the past two years, our donations have been used towards Fields of Hope’s efforts to open a school. The school will create a safe place for children to learn and grow as well as offer skill courses for mothers. In turn, this will create better more sustainable opportunities for women to escape prostitution. Take a look at the following video to learn more about the school project and the passionate people who run Fields of Hope.

The remaining 25% of profits is used for typical business expenses – purchasing new products, product creation, website maintenance, marketing, etc. Our expenses normally exceed the 25%, but that’s okay. Here’s why…

Why It’s Working

A majority of my husband and I’s monthly tithing (we are Christian and believe this to be a fundamental act in our lives) goes directly to The Simple Cup. It’s money that God has blessed us with and we are giving back for Him, in order to change lives. It’s allowed us to continue to grow The Simple Cup even when sales aren’t so good or when things just haven’t worked out. See my post on struggles.

I don’t write myself a paycheck each month from The Simple Cup – nor will I ever. Not to be cliché, but the feeling of joy and happiness that arises as I’m writing out donation checks is more than enough for me.

Knowing that I’m helping women and children escape poverty and prostitution is more than enough for me.

Being a white, American woman, I’ve been blessed with more opportunities than so many women. I believe in women’s rights and the equality that SHOULD exist – but simply doesn’t. It breaks my heart to learn about the terror and absolute disregard for women that exists in other countries.

I created The Simple Cup to inspire others to get involved. If I can help just one women and her child, I feel as though I’ve achieved a small goal. Just imagine what we could do together!

Our Products

The Simple Cup has transformed a bit in the way of product offering, but I’m super happy with the path we’re currently going down. We no longer sell coffees or teas but rather, we are selling products that revolve around the mantra of “Live simply so others may simply live”. We are curating a collection of handmade goods that inspire you to give back.

The majority of our goods are handmade by me, in my own home, with the help of my husband (he handles the sharp objects). That is where my passion lies – in creating. Drawing, painting, screen printing, book binding, sewing… whatever it may be, I absolutely love the act of creating something from nothing.

I’ve been reaching out to other local makers in the hopes of expanding our product range. (There are some exciting partnerships coming down the pike.) Our future inventory goal is to offer a more wide range of textiles – handbags, pouches, clothing, wall art. Also to partner with artisans in the countries we want to impact – Ethiopia, mainly.

We currently sell scarves handmade by Ethiopian women and the story they tell is amazing. Sourcing from artisans in small communities outside of the U.S. will help us give back two fold – doubling our impact.

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Me, Personally

I’m an artist, an outsider, a want-to-be-change-maker, and I believe the only way to be successful is to work hard. I want every person to feel joy and to smile when the sun comes up, because we are so blessed to have this life. I have an old soul and I am absolutely an optimist – especially when it comes to business. Those are my inspirations and that is what drives me to continue building a small business even when the odds are totally stacked against me.

I believe the secret to running a business is to simply love doing it. Embrace every challenge. Be happy with the choices you are making and know that there is always room for change or improvement – in moderation. Success takes time and patience is a must. It’s absolutely hard work! But so worth it.

In Short

My goal is to simply run a business that makes people smile. I’ve been blessed with the talents and motivation to do so.

Whether it be our customers, who are happy and inspired by one of our products… or the women and children who are positively effected by Fields of Hope’s efforts – I’m here to collect smiles, not money. I’m here to inspire others to do something similar. I’m here to spread joy and to be a part of something bigger than myself.

You can call me crazy, say I have no idea what I’m talking about or poke fun at the fact I’ve never had any formal business training. But, I can honestly and whole-heartedly say, I love what I do and I’m running the business of my dreams. It’s been 2 years and I’ve seen a steady rise in sales and The Simple Cup community is continuing to grow.

So, how do you run a business by giving back 75% of profits?

Start thinking less about the money you could make and more about the positive impact you could have. The rest will fall into place.

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