By now you know I love to learn about how other entrepreneurs are doin’ it! I’m always fascinated by both the business acumen of my fellow entrepreneurs, as well as their journeys into taking the leap.
What better time to share with you my latest interview with a duo who has started a small business to fulfill a big mission.
This time, I got the wonderful pleasure to sit down and talk with Michelle Blue, co-founder of Bené scarves, to talk about how she and her business partner and best friend, Sasha Matthews, have been able to turn their love for fashion and philanthropy into what I like to call Friendpreneurship.
Conceived in an effort to help educate young, school-aged girls abroad, the idea to create Bené started when Michelle went to study abroad in Ghana to learn more about the textiles and the culture, while participating in outreach.
Studying business marketing and fashion merchandise at the University of Georgia at the time, Blue became inspired by the young women she met while there. She recalls their strength and spirit, “Despite everything that they didn’t have or seemingly didn’t have materially, they still had such love and such a beautiful spirit. I was really amazed and really in awe of them.”
She left forever changed.
So, she returned to the U.S., eager to share the story of those life-changing encounters with her best friend and Bené co-founder Sasha Matthews, also a college student studying at Florida A&M University. After putting their heads together, they decided they wanted to do something to help those young women. But, instead of making a mere one-time donation, they wanted to create something more sustainable to make a difference. So, they decided to start a company – Bené, a clothing company dedicated to helping to empower and educate young girls abroad.
Initially desiring to start a full-fledged clothing line, Michelle and Sasha soon learned just how much such a lofty undertaking needed. But that didn’t stop them.
Instead, they chose to pivot their idea into something they could handle initially, they forged ahead and decided to sell scarves. Plus, as Michelle put it, the upside is, “What woman doesn’t love a great scarf?!”
Bené’s commitment to the education and empowerment of young girls is clear: Buy a scarf, educate a girl. The company has committed to providing 5 girls with a year’s worth of education, with the goal of growing that number in the future. Currently each pattern is named after a young girl in Ghana, and Bené shares their stories.
…but there’s more to Bené’s story! Learn about how Michelle and Sasha chose the name of their business, why partnership is so important for their biz, how they’ve created their patterns unique to their brand and the exciting, recent campaign they participated in with Pantene! Check out the rest over at Black Enterprise.
P.S.: Ladies, Bené has some BEAUTIFUL scarves, caftans and kimonos in their latest Spring/Summer 2015 collection in some breathtaking patterns. When you buy a scarf, you’ll also help educate a young girl in Ghana. Take a gander at their latest collection and learn more about the young women they are helping to educate, here. Fashion with a cause! (aaaand if you’re still in search of a gift for Mother’s Day, look no further!)
Who says you can’t go into biz with your friends? How many of you have done it? What was it like?