'Tis the season for gift giving. Worried about the people on your list that have everything? Want to broaden your giving horizons? Consider gifts that also give. Austin is blessed with many socially minded entrepreneurs, and we have come up with a list of organizations and companies with a philanthropic mission, providing a wide option of gifts perfect for spreading holiday cheer and giving back in the process.
Austin Gift Company
In 2000 Mike Lopez had the idea to create a place where local artists and vendors could offer their goods and wares. Now, with over 150 vendor booths, it has become the place for one-stop shopping for Austin eccentricities, from Texas-themed gifts, antiques, and crafts to foodstuffs. Shop local, support artists, and do your part to keep Austin weird all under one roof.
Austin Pets Alive!
If you would like to support the rescue and adoption services of this essential organization, their website lists more than 35 businesses that donate a percentage of their sales of products and services to APA. You will find everything from coffee to candles to real estate and chiropractic services listed here.
When in doubt, buy socks. We guarantee these socks live up to their claim of being the most comfortable socks ever created. The company was started when the founders learned that socks are the most requested clothing item in homeless shelters; their goal was to donate 1 million pairs of socks in 10 years. Bombas has been so successful that it reached that goal in only two-and-a-half years. For every pair of socks purchased, one is donated. It’s the ultimate feel-good-while-doing-good stocking stuffer.
When Austin resident and University of Texas grad Oliver Shuttlesworth returned from Central America, he couldn’t get the people he met out of his mind — families that were desperate to provide an education for their children so they could have a better life. Realizing that as little as $15 a year could make a huge difference, Shuttlesworth founded Esperos, a company that makes backpacks, briefcases, luggage, handbags, and totes and donates 50 percent of its profits to provide a year of education for a child in a developing country.
Grace and Lace
Melissa Hinnant is the ultimate momtrepreneur, and she is all about family and philanthropy. Turning her love of sewing and giving back into a thriving business with the help of Shark Tank guru Barbara Corcoran, Hinnant’s collection now includes clothing for women, girls, and babies; scarves and accessories; and her signature leg warmers and boot socks. Based in Cedar Park, Grace and Lace has enabled Hinnant to build an orphanage in India and to spearhead efforts in Nepal to rescue girls from the sex trade and domestic slavery through rescue homes.
Mitscoots doesn’t just give one hat, pair of socks, pair of gloves, shirts, or scarves to someone in need for every purchase. They also realized that, in order to transition the homeless, employment was the answer. This Austin-based company makes quality goods, partners with local and national organization for distribution, and works with local shelters and organizations to recruit and train their workforce.
The Nobelity Project is the heart labor of Austinites Turk and Christy Pipkin that grew out of the documentary film Nobelity, which originally asked Nobel prize winners what could be done to make the world a better place. Fast forward to schools in Kenya, bookmobiles in Roatan, clean water initiatives in Kenya, efforts to save monarch butterflies, and hundreds of trees planted following the Bastrop fires, and you have the work of these two amazing people. Every gift you purchase supports education for all. You can choose from earrings and necklaces made in Kenya, clothing, cards, DVDs, and books. You can also “turn wine into water” when you order a specialty wine named The Turk, created for Nobelity by California winemaker Treana; proceeds go to providing electricity and clean water in rural Kenya.
In 2010 Austin based social entrepreneur Jessica Honegger dreamed of a company that would support artisan entrepreneurs in vulnerable areas throughout the developing world and one that would also support adoptive parents worldwide. Today the Noonday Collection includes jewelry, accessories, and handbags created by over 4,000 artisans in 12 countries and has given over $250,000 to support more than 1,600 adoptive families.
Ten Thousand Villages
This is not only a store — it’s a community. A founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages sources products from artisans who receive a fair price for their work. Since 2004 they have also given more than $79,000 to local organizations. Here you will find unique handicrafts for the home, as well as jewelry and clothing. The organization is nonprofit and the store is staffed largely by volunteers. Shop, find a cause, and volunteer.
Yes, Blake Mycoskie is the most famous and wildly successful social entrepreneur, having started TOMS with the idea of providing a pair of shoes for children in need for every pair purchased. The company has expanded its product line and giving to include not only shoes but also safe water, eyeglasses, sight-saving surgery and medical treatment, facilitation of safe births, and anti-bullying campaigns. Toms has a brick-and-mortar store located on South Congress Avenue with a cafe serving TOMS coffee, which benefits the safe water program. Sip a latte and shop until you drop, doing good and giving back with each and every purchase.