Surround yourself with trusted advisors and mentors. It will help you stay focused and relieve the pressure and stress of starting a new business when you have people that support you and have your back.
Frustration has turned into a revelation for prior retail executive, Jeannie Barsam. For years, her company wanted to donate their excess inventory to local charities, however, they discovered that most non-profits aren’t equipped or designed to accept high-end goods. For most luxury brands, their excess inventory could be a perfect fundraising match, but without a non-profit’s ability to handle high priced items, the two entities have struggled to partner together.
Recognizing the need, Jeannie Barsam has found a way to truly create social impact. Her family instilled a passion for giving back to the community. Her parents found such joy in giving to others, and her grandmother and father-in-law were always volunteering their time to give back to the community. It’s in my blood. And now, I get to continue that legacy that was passed on to me, with Gifting Brands,” says Jeannie.
Gifting Brands solves a need for both brands and non-profits by creating a unique online shopping experience where customers purchase brands they love. The best part is 100% of the profits goes to the charity selected by each customer when they shop at GiftingBrands.com.
Gifting Brands is partnering with local and national designer brands to donate their excess inventory for Social Good.
More than creating social impact, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Due to the current changes in tax laws, non-profits are at risk of losing up to $13 Billion in charitable donations each year based on new research conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Gifting Brands is a not-for-profit ecommerce company. They are about to launch an Apparel, Jewelry, and Accessories website on November 15th. All of the profits generated will be given to non-profits that support women, children, and families.
Jeannie Barsam the Founder and CEO has spent the last 25 years as a retail executive with fortune 500 companies. With Gifting Brands, Jeannie is now focused on creating a social enterprise that elevates the way luxury and designer brands can make an impact in the world. With a 501(c)(3) non-profit status and an accomplished group of retail and marketing Board of Directors, Jeannie is committed to a business model where the retail industry becomes one of the largest donors to non-profits while solving a problem of excess inventory.
For retailers and others wanting more information, please contact Jeannie Barsam at [email protected] or visitwww.Giftingbrands.com.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
In my prior career as a retail executive one of the frustrations was what to do with excess inventory of designer brands or higher priced items like jewelry. We did not want to sell the inventory to discount retailers and preferred to do good with it by donating to charity. I researched donating, however, we discovered that most non-profits aren’t equipped or designed to accept high-end apparel, accessories, or jewelry in larger quantities.
For most designer brands, their excess inventory could be a perfect fundraising match, but without a non-profit’s ability to handle high priced items, the two entities have struggled to partner together. Last year my board and I decided to start our own nonprofit called Gifting Brands which is an ecommerce website that will sell designer and luxury brands. The great news is 100% of the profits will go as grants to nonprofits that make a difference in the lives of women, children and families. We are currently partnering with the following non-profits to give grants to: Susan G. Komen, The Family Place, Dress for Success Dallas, I Pour Life, Millennials for STEM, and Educate After 8.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is all about networking and collaborating with retail brands, non-profits, and with the Dallas community. I am on the phone or meeting people in person most of the day. Our major focus in the next few months is preparation for our national launch in November. We will have a soft launch of the website this month to test and work out the kinks before we launch to the public in November.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Retail is a fast-paced industry and to stay on top or in the game it is all about test and learn. Understanding what the customer wants and delivering on that is key. We have many new ideas about how to make shopping fun and fulfilling and will test them both at Giftingbrands.com as well as at large fundraising events to get direct feedback from customers. We also have an amazing group of board and advisory board members that bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Gifting Brands. They have many ideas that we will also test in the next year.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The most exciting trend I see is that millennials want to shop with brands that have a social mission. Today, 50% of millennial shoppers say they enjoy purchasing products from brands that support charities or causes, like Tom’s and Warby Parker. Meanwhile, 75% of millennials report that it is fairly important to them that a company gives back to society. This trend gives me hope that more companies will look for ways to make a positive social impact in our world.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I started a daily journal a few months ago which has helped me see the progress we are making. As an entrepreneur our vision and goals are so high that journaling keeps me grounded and helps me realize just how far we have come from our original idea.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Cherish every moment with your family and friends and take vacations! Life goes by too quickly. I worked too many hours and skipped many vacations with my family because I though my job was more important and the company needed me there.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Many people think that Millennials only care about themselves. It is not true. Millennials do care about others and but do not have as much disposable income to give back. Research shows that millennials make a difference through their spending and who they choose to buy from.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am constantly learning from others and networking. It is important to surround yourself with smart people. I intentionally built a very strong board and advisory board made up of retail and marketing executives. Many of them have run major companies but they also what to share their knowledge and give back their time and expertise to make Gifting Brands mission a reality.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Surrounding myself with smart people. I have been blessed to have so many successful business leaders volunteer to be on our board of directors and advisory board. Whenever I need help or advise they are there for me. I chose people who had expertise in areas that I did not. This group of people has helped me get from concept to launch in less than a year.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Building a strong social media and brand identity does not happen overnight. It takes consistency, time and effort before you see a payoff. Don’t give up! I thought it would be much easier. I hired an expert to help.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have found that people really do care and will support businesses that support a cause they care about. Both employees and customers will be more loyal to a company that gives back to help others. If you do not support a cause, find out what causes your employees or customers care about. Support them both with volunteering and with a portion of your earnings. If you do not have earnings then donating inventory, computers, or services is a great way to give back too!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Joining a women’s entrepreneur group. When you are a first-time entrepreneur no matter how long you have been working in the business world, going out on your own is daunting. Having a network of like-minded people to talk to, exchange ideas, and support each other makes a huge difference. You will always have ups and downs as an entrepreneur but having a network to lean on for advice, training, or just fun events to relieve the stress is so important.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I found a great app called Trello. Trello is an easy, free, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything. I especially like it because my best thinking comes at night while trying to fall asleep. I can use the app on my phone to capture all my ideas or add to my to do list and it syncs to my computer. It has saved me from many sleepless nights of worrying about what I need to do!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Customer Funded Business by John Mullins, PHD
In this book professor Mullins gives great advice for entrepreneurs that do not want to go the VC route. As a non-for-profit retail company this book was exactly what I needed! Our mission is to help women, children, and families get ahead so having a strategy that focuses on customer funding without debt was perfect.
What is your favorite quote?
The most two important days in your life are the day your born and the day you find out why– Mark Twain
• Be of value to others, when we give expecting nothing in return, it is amazing how much more others will give back and want to help.
• Do not be discouraged when people do not understand your passion or your why. Stay focused and continue to move forward. The best leaders and businesses that have ever existed set out to do something completely unrealistic.
• Surround yourself with trusted advisors and mentors. It will help you stay focused and relieve the pressure and stress of starting a new business when you have people that support you and have your back.
• Schedule time to continually learn. There are so many great ways to learn now that take up less time. You can listen to audio books on the way to work or watch a webinar. Also encourage your team to do the same. Give them opportunities to learn and grow as well.
• Last but probably the most important is carve out time with your family. As an entrepreneur we end up spending more time at work or at home working. Time goes by too fast. Enjoy the moment and include your family in the journey.