“Everybody needs a leg up in the beginning of starting a business. My big break came when Oprah named SPANX a Favorite Thing. We at Spanx want to pay it forward and give other amazing women entrepreneurs their leg up!” —Sara Blakely
The Leg Up program was created in 2010 to offer women entrepreneurs and their businesses a chance to be promoted to millions of Spanx fans via the catalog, website and social media channels. For information on how to apply, visit spanx.com/leg-up.
SB: WHAT LED YOU TO STARTING A COMPANY?
BU: In college, I spent a summer in Uganda and met Sarah: a young woman caring for 24 orphans off the street. Our 10-minute meeting changed my life. Out of her poverty, she gave her daily bread, while I, who had been given so much, gave nothing. I launched the Akola Project to create an accessories brand to economically empower women like Sarah so they could have the resources to care for disadvantaged children in their communities. 100% of our jewelry profits are re-invested in our social mission. Over the past seven years, our project has employed over 400 women, constructed two vocational centers and drilled 23 water wells in impoverished communities throughout Uganda.
SB: WHO QUALIFIES FOR THE PROGRAM?
BU: Women caring for 7+ dependents who are living in rural poverty. The program creates a way for women to provide for over 4,000 children in their communities and generate capital to invest in micro-businesses to create sustainability for generations to come.
SB: HOW WAS SSEKO STARTED?
BU: After college, I moved to Uganda on a whim. Experiencing the effects of extreme poverty first-hand drove me to brainstorm ways to employ young women. A friend reminded me of these funky, strappy sandals I made in college (everyone in my dorm wanted a pair!) and I set out (on country-wide search via motorcycle) to find the right materials. Little did I know they’d one day be featured in Vogue!
SB: DO MOST OF THE WOMEN GRADUATE?
BU: We’re proud to say that 100% of the women in our employment and empowerment program are either currently pursuing a degree or graduated from University!
20% off your entire purchase at ssekodesigns.com when you enter “SpanxLove” at checkout.*
*Code valid through January 1, 2015.
Name: Caroline Van Sickle
Company: Pretty In My Pocket (PRIMP)
What it is: Pretty in my Pocket (PRIMP) is a mobile app that helps women discover and shop beauty products thanks to features like a barcode scanner, product reviews, how-to videos and direct purchase.
Ah-Ha Moment!: Caroline was getting her MBA at night while working a day job when, during the wake of the financial crisis, she was laid off. On a mission to find a job and freshen up her beauty routine on a budget, she made a trip to the drugstore. Frustrated and overwhelmed by thousands of products, she went home to research beauty blogs and how-to videos. Five hours deep into her online frenzy, she had a shopping list and a startup idea.
Motto: Get inspired, be yourself, and accept your individualized, powerful sense of beauty.
Need it Now!: Download the PRIMP App to find your must have lip color for fall. Caroline’s is: L’Oreal Colour Riche Wet Shine Stain in Berry Persistent
Sara Says: “Being a beauty product junkie, I was instantly drawn to this concept— it’s like having a personal beauty consultant on hand at all times.”
Spring On It!: http://www.prettyinmypocket.com
Name: Maggie Drake & Colleen Karis
What it is: A stylish cross body iPhone case that holds your credit card, driver’s license and cash for true liberation from carrying a handbag.
Ah-Ha Moment!: Maggie and Colleen loved to travel and were constantly looking for a fashionable, functional way to carry their phones without a frantic search through their bags. With that, Bandolier was born.
Motto: Hands Free Chic, Smart & Ready for Anything
Need it Now!: The perfect accessory for a power luncheon, an all-day music festival or a Hollywood premiere, Bandolier is a style-savvy way to travel light. New styles launch this fall, including the “Lexi” in on-trend metallics—the perfect accessory for holiday parties.
Sara Says: “I love products that combine fashion and function. Bandolier’s stylish, hands-free design is a pretty, practical solution.”
Spring On It!: Take 20% off your purchase from https://www.bandolierstyle.com with code SPANX20 checkout*
*Code valid: 8/31/2014 – 9/30/2014
Name: Rebecca Brandt, Emmanuel Quarmyne & Callie Brauel
Company: A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN)
What it is: ABAN is a non-profit dedicated to empowering young mothers in Ghana by selling unique, handmade products from recycled materials. Plastic waste is collected off the streets, sanitized and then combined with a traditional Ghanaian fabric or printed textile. Proceeds from the products go to fund a 2-year program that empowers women financially and personally, allowing them to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their children.
Ah-Ha Moment!: While studying entrepreneurship in Ghana, three college students became disturbed by the pollution and poverty around them: everyday 60+ tons of plastic water bags end up on the streets that 60,000+ children sleep on—half of whom were young mothers under the age of 20. These children came from different backgrounds, but shared the common thread of neglect.
Callie, Rebecca and Emmanuel joined forces and set out to address these issues. What began as a class project to start a non-profit recycling plastic street waste became a shelter and community for young mothers in Ghana.
Motto: The fabric of change
Need it Now!: The Blessing Bag: Named after a baby that came through ABAN’s nursery, this is the perfect makeup bag to keep in tote! Its plastic lining is easy to wipe down and keeps it looking fresh. At $15, it makes a perfect gift — and gives a month’s worth of savings to an ABAN woman!
Sara Says: “I’m so inspired by how ABAN turns trash into an opportunity to empower young moms in Ghana. By carrying one of their bags, we can all help end the cycle of poverty and clean up the environment…carry on!”
Spring On It!: Take 25% off your purchase from http://www.aban.org with code SPANXU at checkout*
*code valid through December 31, 2014