Within today’s world, business is extremely difficult.
It seems as if we have created most anything and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for people to stand-out in our society. However, author Seth Godin poses that in today’s world, we have an extremely rare opportunity: to bring people together. In his work Tribes, Godin suggests that people are ultimately looking to connect with others who have similar beliefs, interests, and experiences and make lasting connections. I witnessed this phenomenon personally, although I did not realize it at the time.
During high school, I embarked upon an extremely difficult goal. At the same time that I was seeking a Division I golf scholarship and was enrolled in the most challenging high school in the Midwest, I decided to take a school project to an entirely new level. This was when my company Fashion With a Passion was born.
Being the over-achiever that I am, I wanted to not only make my school proud of my project, but also find a way to give-back to the community that supported me in every way. This was when I allowed my creative juices to flow. I ultimately decided to start my own handbag company that combined my love for fashion, passion for life, and motivation to make a difference in the community. With the mentoring of my cousin who was a fellow handbag designer, I designed, marketed, and brought my signature “TLC Bag” to the local spotlight.
My company was centered around the Donate Life campaign. As I am the daughter of an organ recipient and the niece of an organ donor, I wanted to give-back to the community that gave my dad the gift of vision. Not only did I strive to raise money for the foundation, but I also sought to increase the amount of donors in my community and change the negative stigma of organ donation. Through my hard work, I quickly attracted attention and was featured in various local magazines, newsletters, radio shows, and even made a TV appearance. After my appearances in the local media, the project immediately took-off and I sold-out of my entire inventory within a week. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wasn’t selling purses; I was assembling a tribe.
Looking back, my supporters weren’t looking to buy a purse, but were instead looking to connect with other people whose lives had been affected by organ donation and join a movement bigger than themselves. As a part of Fashion With a Passion, I made it a point to let others share their stories with me on the phone and on my website, allowing for a support network to form within my company. This was the true core of my business because it allowed everyone to share their stories and it showed everyone that they are a part of a greater community. Although this tribe was bonded by tragedy, it was strong nonetheless.
Although I reached my fundraising goals, I eventually concluded the project with a much bigger impact than I had ever anticipated. Not only did this experience teach me how to run a company, it also allowed me and others to connect with a greater community whose lives had been touched by organ donation. Through hearing the stories of others and sharing my own, I gained a stronger appreciation for life and eventually went-on to achieve all of my goals both inside and outside of the company. Perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned through this project is that tribes can assemble anywhere, out of both the greatest miracles and through the worst tragedies.
All a tribe needs is one person who is willing to assemble them, and together, they are unstoppable.