Austinite’s simple message to ‘be brave’ drives millions for charitable causes
Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Stephanie Hansen.
Austin resident Stephanie Hansen launched Bravelets in 2012 when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her goal was to create something that she, her sister, mom, and dad could wear in the weeks leading up to her mother’s mastectomy.
For Hansen’s family, that bracelet would be a symbol that they could all look at and remember to be brave. She could not predict that in just four years, Bravelets has increased to include projects with 4,000 nonprofits across the country, raising nearly $2.5 million for everything from Alzheimer’s to drug and alcohol dependence.
With each purchase, the company donates 10 percent to the associated charity. Although the company is not a nonprofit itself, it does believe in absolute transparency, so when you purchase a Bravelets product, you know exactly how much of your purchase is going to charity.
The company has recently expanded beyond bracelets to include blankets, pillows, mugs, and more. Individuals can even start a fundraiser for their organization, extending Bravelets’ reach far beyond Hansen’s original mission.
We caught up with 29-year-old to learn more about what drives her to serve others.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Stephanie Hansen: When Bravelets launched, we had one style of bracelet and supported 10 causes. Today we support thousands of nonprofits and personal fundraisers across the U.S. and have raised more than $2.5 million.
I am inspired every day by our customers who all have a cause close to their heart that they support.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?
SH: The one piece of advice I would give is to just do it! Start now, perfect later. I have people come up to me all the time and say, “Well I have this idea, but ….” People hold themselves back because it is not the perfect time, or they don’t know how to do X, Y, or Z. That will always be the case! There is no “perfect” time, and we never have all the answers. You just have to figure it out and improve as you go.
At Bravelets, one of our core values is, “Done is better than perfect,” and this is crucial to our success as a business. If we waited until everything was perfect to launch a new product or a new feature on the website, it would never get done. The idea is to launch, learn, and improve quality.
By following this Lean Startup methodology, we have been able to listen to our customers, implement new features, and grow very quickly. In fact, Bravelets was just named 775 on the Inc. 5000 list!
CM: Sum up Texas in three words.
SH: The best state!
CM: What’s one thing people might not know about you?
SH: One thing that people might not know about me is that I was born in London, England, and lived in London and Scotland until I was 5. I love nothing more than to travel, so having dual citizenship is definitely a nice perk.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
SH: It’s a good day when I’m with friends and family, preferably on the beach somewhere.
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Hansen and her fellow Austin winners.