#FollowFriday: Stephanie Carolyn Anderson from carolyn a. events

Happy Friday, heartful humans! Today, we’re featuring #girlboss and Atlanta-based wedding planner that’s using her brilliant mind and amazing design skills to create unforgettable events (and give back!).

Stephanie Carolyn Anderson, a Nashville native, is the owner and creative director of carolyn a. events, an event design and planning studio that specializes in custom luxury weddings and events. Her philosophy centers on meshing a client’s unique vision and style with the design process to create incredible and stunning events.

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Source: Brophy of OneNine Images

We had the chance to talk with Stephanie about being her own boss, her sheroes, and how she’s helping to empower other women.

What made you want to start your own event planning business?

My background is a mix of design and engineering and, out of college, I was looking for something that fit the structure of engineering but also allowed me to use my design skills and be creative. I researched countless fields and professions and found wedding planning and design to be the perfect fit. I worked as an intern and associate planner for about 3 years and then decided to I wanted to try it for myself!

What are some of the biggest challenges of running an event planning business?
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Source: Gracie Blue Photography

One of the most challenging aspects of running any business is keeping your motivation up and personal engagement high; it’s only exacerbated when you work for yourself. Instead of pulling inspiration and support from a boss or coworkers you have to search other places and find ways to encourage yourself. It can be difficult at times, but it makes it all the more rewarding when you succeed.

What inspired you to be a charitable vendor?

I have always been surrounded by powerful and accomplished women; from my mom to my grandmothers to best friends, I have had women beside me every day encouraging me and pushing me to excel. It has been through this that I was able to step out and start my own business. It’s also because of this, that I knew I needed to give back and, as a company run exclusively by women, I wanted to focus on using our gifts to empower and support other women.

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Source: Dash Photography
What do you do to give back? What type of charities do you support?

At carolyn a. events we support Wellspring Living, a restorative organization that focuses on victims of sex trafficking. Wellspring believes in not only rescuing women from at-risk situations but also giving them the tools to succeed and thrive once they re-enter society. When a client chooses our Wellspring package, we commit to give 10% of their final rate to Wellspring Living in their name on their wedding day. We also encourage all of our employees to volunteer their time at Wellspring and offer our clients opportunities as well!

Any advice for brides-to-be as they start their wedding planning process?
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Source: Melissa Schollaret Photography

In our work, one of the largest issues we see is that many couples feel pressure to conform their wedding to traditions and expectations — they have to have a cake cutting, second cousins are required guests, and house-ware gifts are a must. What many couples don’t realize is that they can make this day completely and comfortably their own. It’s important to identify which elements are important to you and your fiance. From there, don’t stress about the smaller details that you could care less about. Also, a wedding planner can guide you through this process and take charge of those tough conversations with great aunt Hilda when she demands you have a garter toss!

Know a wedding vendor that’s going above and beyond to help others? Leave us a comment and we might feature them next time!

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#FollowFriday: Sandra from SandraChile Photography

Happy Friday, homies! Today, we continue our #FollowFriday series with a spunky lady that is making the world a better and funnier place, one click at a time.

Sandra, owner of SandraChile, is a wedding photographer based in Pittsburgh that specializes in alternative, fun couples who like to do things a little differently.

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Source: SandraChile.com

We had the chance to talk to her about the joy of out-of-the-box (and green!) photos, her experience growing up in Chile, and how she uses her business to give back. This is what she had to say…

How did you get started as a photographer? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I always liked pictures, but when you grow up in a developing country, like I did, being a photographer is not “a thing”.

I went to college for visual communication and when I came to live in the US, photography became a language to explain my friends back home about my new life; pumpkin pies, bonfires, or the concept of a white christmas (all things that we don’t have down there) took a different meaning through my pictures.

Little by little, I became close friends with photography and I developed a business out of it. I suddenly realized that wedding parties and love stories where my favorite. And can you blame me? Partying to celebrate love is always the best!

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Source: @SandraChileP

Tell me more about how you keep your business green and sustainable!

My business has a giant emphasis on ethics and sustainability because I genuinely care about others and the planet.

Photography is not a very green practice on its own. First, consider all the chemicals that come together to coat a picture, album, or photo book, and their residual effects. Then we add the deforestation that takes place to create the paper and packaging: Boxes, tissue papers, paper bags, ribbons, plastic… the list goes on and on! Do you follow me? The impact just one person can have is massive.

Most people don’t know this, but the industry of photographic products can be so toxic that workers can end up with severe skin burns. This issue gets magnified when photographic labs are outsourced to developing countries where safety and sustainability are not a priority.

This is why I am proud to be one of the few photographers in the country who offers exclusively vegetarian and sustainably-sourced products.

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Source: @SandraChileP

When it comes to prints, I have handpicked labs who are environmentally friendly and use plant based inks sourced from locally harvested soybeans. In addition, I do not sell any mass-produced items. Instead, I prefer items made in countries where labor laws are in place to protect workers. In fact, most of the the items I sell are proudly made in the USA, prioritizing collaboration with small business.

What inspired you to be a charitable vendor?

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Source: SandraChile.com

Part of it has to do with the fact that I didn’t have a good upbringing. Not only did I grow up in a poor country that was recently coming out of a dictatorship, with an unstable socio-economical situation, but I also didn’t have a loving and supportive family by my side.

I ended up homeless at the age of 16. I am where I am today mostly because of the compassionate people God put along my life journey.

Growing up like this made me realize that every second can be used to make a difference in someone’s life, and I have chosen to make that difference particularly using my business.

What do you do to give back? What type of charities do you support?

As part of the ethical standards I advocate for, my business donates a percentage of every wedding fee to Too Young To Wed, an organization started by a photographer that creates awareness about forced child marriage. That way, whenever someone books my services, they immediately become participant of this tremendous cause.

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Source: @SandraChileP

If someone cancels a wedding, instead of just walking away, I arrange for a charity photoshoot to take place that day. I ask the couple to send me to any charity organization near where the wedding would have taken place to take pictures for free. So while other vendors take that day as an opportunity to make more money, I make sure we fill that day with happiness.

Lastly, I put together goodie bags that I give away to every homeless person I meet. The bags contain basic travel-sized toiletries, water, and a meal that doesn’t need cooked. The funny thing is that usually I distribute the most bags whenever I’m on my way to shoot a wedding!

What are your favorite wedding photos to shoot?

My favorite wedding pictures are the ones that show raw, real emotions, particularly of people having fun. I strive to capture laughs, funny dances, drunk moments, and all of those awkward situations that other photographers avoid. That is my jam! I believe life is made of stories built around those moments, and as a photographer, nothing makes me happier than the thought of people gathering to enjoy and laugh at a picture I took.

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Source: SandraChile.com

Know a wedding vendor that’s going above and beyond to help others? Leave us a comment and we might feature them next time!

#FollowFriday: Marguerite Pressley-Davis from Tulle La La

Happy Friday, lovelies! It’s finally the end of the week, and we’re here to kick-start your weekend festivities by introducing you to a sweet service that will sweep your premarital feet off the ground.

Meet Tulle La La, the deluxe subscription-based service for brides (and grooms!)-to-be that delivers monthly wedding planning tulles (i.e. gifts) and advice to their doorstep to help manage and enjoy the wedding planning process.

We had the pleasure to chat with Tulle La La’s founder and CEO Marguerite Pressley-Davis about weddings, running a start-up, and girl power. This is what she had to say:

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Who is the woman behind Tulle La La?

At heart, I’m just a lover of making other people happy mixed with a healthy obsession for all things weddings! My beginnings are actually on Wall Street — prior to launching Tulle La La I worked for years as a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs. I always knew at some point that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I knew I always wanted to do something that would allow me to give back, but I wasn’t sure exactly of what that was until I had the idea for Tulle La La. That’s when I knew I had found my passion!

What inspired you to start Tulle La La? Can you tell me a bit about the process of starting your own company?

Tulle La La was born from a real life experience. When I was planning my own wedding, I had multiple friends who were also engaged and planning their own dream weddings. We all had very different experiences; a couple of them were very, very stressed out. On the other end of the spectrum was me. I was having the time of my life! The stress was not overwhelming, and I was enjoying every step of the process.

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Source: @TulleLaLaBox on Instagram

However, I felt bad that my fellow bride friends’ experiences were so vastly different from mine. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to ensure that all brides were able to have the experience I did — to have guidance and feel supported and pampered in the process of planning their special day without feeling extremely stressed?” In short, after discovering this huge need, I was determined to create a solution. And so, year after my own wedding, I launched Tulle La La and haven’t looked back since.

Being an entrepreneur takes hard work and dedication, but most of all passion. It is truly a 24-hour job and more complex than any role I’ve had in the past. But for the first time, work doesn’t feel like work to me. It just feels like just me living my life the way it was intended to be. When you start a company, It’s always on your mind. You’re constantly thinking about the strategic moves you can make to achieve your growth targets, you’re thinking about how your team is doing, the relationships you are building, how will you change the game, and ultimately, how are you being impactful.

Tell me about the monthly boxes. What kind of stuff do you send brides-to-be? What makes your gifts special?

Our monthly boxes are customized for the bride depending on where is she in her wedding planning journey so the tulles (gifts) that brides receive each month vary from bride to bride. However, each box will always contain 4-6 different tulles (gifts) related to the planning stage the bride is in. Each box will also always includes advice from past brides as well as tips and tricks from industry experts. Some products are designed by the best creatives just for our Tulle La La brides, while other products are directly sourced from great companies across the globe.

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Source: TulleLaLa.com
Why do you think engaged women should subscribe to Tulle La La?  

Our tulle la la boxes are a perfect gift for the bride from a parent or friend who may be out of town and can’t be there for all of her great wedding planning moments. Planning a wedding can be so stressful, and Tulle La La is a great way to relive some of that stress for the bride and keep the process fun and manageable for her.

What inspired you to be a charitable wedding vendor?

I’ve always felt like giving back is something that you should do, no question about it, so it very ingrained in me. I’ve always volunteered, donated, and given back in other ways for as long as I can remember. Having a company like Tulle La La is an opportunity for me to continue this in a larger capacity.

Do you do anything to give back to the community?

There are a few ways that Tulle La La gives back. First, a portion of our annual proceeds are donated to Girls Inc., an organization that supports the empowerment of girls. We are also helping Girls Inc. build their very own “tulle box” to inspire young girls to have confidence, make sound decisions, and lead healthy lifestyles. Recently, we also volunteered to lead workshop at Girl Boss Camp, an entrepreneurship camp for girl in middle school through high school.

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Source: @LadiesWhoBrunchATL on Instagram

If you can’t tell, we LOVE girl power. I believe it’s super important to empower young girls so that they can grow up knowing that they, too, can dream big and succeed.

Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share with brides-to-be that are in the process of planning their wedding?

My go-to tip is pretty straight forward: enjoy the journey that’s half the fun! Your big day will be amazing, but it’s also important not to forget to enjoy the everything else leading up to that day.  Time flies by quickly, so take advantage of the time between “yes” and “I do”!

Know a wedding vendor that’s going above and beyond to help others? Leave us a comment and we might feature them next time!

 

#FollowFriday: Kelsey Vawter from Styled by Kelsey V.

It’s #FollowFriday and today we’re featuring a lovely lady who is giving rockstar makeovers to brides and maids all over Texas!

Styled_by_Kelsey_Makeup_Artist_Portraits_Discovery_Green_Houston_Photographer_NEvansPhotos_Final-14 (1)Kelsey Vawter is a licensed cosmetologist and stylist with over 8 years of experience. She specializes in bridal and special occasion looks, and she LOVES a good up-do!

While her styling and makeup techniques are certainly on point (for real, though, look at all these magical transformations!), what really makes Kelsey stand out is her can-do attitude and warm heart.

We had the chance to talk with Kelsey about her business, the perks and challenges of bridal styling, and how she uses her hair and makeup powers for good. Here’s what she said:

How did you start your business?

I started Styled by Kelsey V. after being an unnamed mobile stylist and working in salons for 6 years. My primary focus was to get out of the full-service salon environment and focus on what I love most: making women look and feel their best.

Did you always want to be a stylist?

Since I can remember, I was always the friend that was helping everyone get ready for homecoming, crazy hair day, and cheer competitions. I was obsessed with glitter and, for a while, blue mascara! Since then I have grown into a more natural look, preferring big wavy hair or a messy bun to bright scrunchies.

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What got you into bridal styling?

Bridal styling has always been my favorite. Seeing a bride’s face after her makeover is priceless. The second best thing is her mom’s face when she sees her daughter with hair and makeup done. Transforming someone into the best version of themselves and helping them feel beautiful on their big day is incredibly fulfilling.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 6.41.36 PMThe most challenging part of my job is the consultation. Sometimes I get brides who know exactly what they want but more often I get brides who are as obsessed with Pinterest as I am. I love inspiration pins but when there are too many pins with drastically different looks, it can be hard to come up with a cohesive look for the bride and her party.

What inspired you to be a charitable vendor?

My grandmother, who lost her battle with breast cancer, is my inspiration. When she was going through chemotherapy, she rocked the bald head and scarves but hated that she “looked like an alien” with no eyebrows. The only thing she hated more than not having eyebrows was when people painted on what she called “McDonald’s arches” or used an unnatural color to recreate her missing eyebrows. She tried different brow pencils but always hated the harsh lines that they created, so most days she decided against using them.

One night, she had a wedding to go to, so I bought her a sandy brown brow powder and applied it with an angle brush. After I finished, she looked in the mirror and said she looked like a “normal person”. It was both heartbreaking and fulfilling at the same time. After that, I taught her how to use the brow powder and bought her eyebrow stencils so she could do it herself. Her comment about feeling like a “normal person” is what drove me to start giving back and helping other women feel a little better about themselves during hard times.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 6.38.56 PMWhat do you do to give back? Are there any charities you work closely with?

I donate my time as an instructor to Look Good Feel Better, a program that offers complimentary group, individual, and online sessions that teach beauty techniques to help people with cancer to face their diagnosis with greater confidence.

I love working with the ladies, teaching them proper styling techniques to help their wigs stay in top condition, and new makeup techniques to help them look more like themselves.

I also recently interviewed with Shear Love, Thrive Rescue Home’s new cosmetology program in Thailand for trafficked women and hope to become a guest instructor there for a six-week period in early 2017. I would love to have the opportunity to participate in and support their program annually.

Any styling advice for brides-to-be?

Know your style, your hair, skin, and weather patterns on your wedding day. It’s pretty much always hot and humid in Texas so I always recommend an up-do in order to make it last the longest!  

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Know a wedding vendor that’s going above and beyond to help others? Leave us a comment and we might feature them next time!

#FollowFriday: Jane Mosbacher Morris from TO THE MARKET

Happy Friday, friends! Finally, the workday is coming to an end and the weekend is within reach. HECK YEAH!

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But before we happy-dance our way out of the office and to the closest bar, let me introduce you to the sweetest and most bad-ass boss-lady we know.

Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET (TTM), a socially-inspired business that’s economically empowering vulnerable communities through artisan enterprise.

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Jane has always been about giving back. Before founding TTM, she had a long and fruitful career in the public and nonprofit sectors, where she worked on several anti-trafficking, women’s issues, and counter-terrorism initiatives. Jane has traveled, written, and spoken broadly on issues ranging from social enterprise to peace and security and in venues ranging from the Alt Summit to the Naval Special Warfare Command. Her written work has been published by platforms ranging from the National Defense University and The Houston Chronicle to Refinery 29 and the Huffington Post.

We had the absolute pleasure to speak with Jane about TTM and her passion for helping others. This is what she had to say:

For starters, can you give me your 30-second pitch for TTM?

TO THE MARKET economically empowers vulnerable communities through artisan enterprise. We specifically focus on survivors of conflict, abuse and disease, the majority of whom are women. We partner with artisan groups around the world to help sell their goods, tell their stories, and grow their businesses.

What motivated you to found TTM? What differentiates TTM from all the other initiatives you’ve been involved with over the years?

My motivation for founding TO THE MARKET stemmed from a number of experiences, not the least of which was close to seven years working in the government and not-for-profit world and being exposed to communities desperate for economic opportunity.

TTM1I devised TO THE MARKET’s specific business model after a trip to India I took while working for the McCain Institute. While in India, I had the opportunity to visit two social enterprises employing human trafficking survivors producing products (the co-ops were Sari Bari and Freeset). These cooperatives and their approaches of providing economic independence to survivors through the dignity of work inspired me to build on this model. I knew that there was a huge opportunity to align growing consumer demand for social impact products with the incredible capacity of these survivor artisans!

How do you choose which co-operatives TTM works with? Is there something in particular you look for?

We partner with artisan co-operatives that employ survivors of abuse, conflict and disease. We do this because we think that these communities often face particularly significant challenges to obtaining economic opportunity.

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Tell me about the products. What kind of items does TTM sell?

TO THE MARKET’s products are handmade by survivors of abuse, conflict and disease from around the world. Our online marketplace has a wide range of jewelry, bags, home and paper goods perfect for many occasions and styles. A number of our products are also eco-friendly, from bags made from recycled saris to jewelry made of paper beads.

What’s the impact of TTM?

By serving as a platform for not only survivor-made goods, but also for the stories of the survivors themselves, TO THE MARKET has had the privilege of amplifying the voices of individuals who have often had their voices muffled.

We are also helping to promote economic independence for vulnerable communities while trying to address their wellbeing by offering things like basic mental health resources.

How much traffic does TTM get? How much has it grown since you started?TTM2

We’ve had the honor of sharing our story with tens of millions of people thanks to the press we’ve gotten in everything from The New York Times to Glamour.

In our first year (2015), we moved tens of thousands of products touched by survivor artisans. We are pretty pumped about that!

Do you have any tips for couples trying to share their special days with others in need? Any TTM products you want to recommend to them?

Yes! There are SO many ways to make a difference in the lives of others by applying some of your budget towards experiences, products, or services that give back! If you are planning on spending $20,000 on a wedding, just imagine if you spent even 10% of that on products that help change lives? You can have a BIG impact on your day!

Below are also some of our favorite wedding decorations and accessories!

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This quintessential bridal necklace is handmade with white freshwater pearls by survivors of trafficking in Asia. It’s also a classic accessory for a bridal shower or rehearsal dinner.

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This softcover notebook supports college scholarships for young women in developing countries and is the ideal size to jot down last minute wedding ideas! (Click here to learn more about Heartful.ly partner, Flora Stationary!)

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This “something blue” clutch is entirely handmade by artisans in Nepal and allows you to have a modern take on an age-old tradition.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of TO THE MARKET’s products on their website! Looking for other ways to use your wedding to do some good? Consider creating a charitable wedding registry!

Know any wedding vendors that are doing great things to give back? Let us know in the comments and we might feature them next time!

#FollowFriday: Beth Schart from Personal Scribe Services

Between texts, emails, snaps, instas, tweets, and statuses, the idea of having to wait days, if not weeks, for a message may seem almost regressive. Yet, there’s something romantic, almost nostalgic, about handwritten letters. Even though very few of us have even thought about writing one ourselves in years, no one can deny that this primeval form of communication is an art form in itself. And while not everyone can write like this…

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…Or this…

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… we can all ask someone with way better handwriting to write our letters and thank you notes for us.

BethSchart{Enter Beth Schart.}

Beth is the founder of Personal Scribe Services, a handwritten note writing service based in Rhode Island. A retired teacher, she uses her business to not only help busy-bees show their appreciation to others, but also to support causes she cares about.

We had a chance to talk with Beth about her work as a scribe and charitable vendor, and this is what she had to say:

How did you get started as a personal scribe? Was it something you always wanted to do?

After teaching for 23 years, my life changed and I was ready to change with it! Karl and I are empty-nesters and I wanted the flexibility to work from home and travel to visit our out-of-state children and grandchildren. I came up with the idea for this totally portable business after years of seeing the busy teachers I worked with who were getting married. Their engagement parties and bridal showers typically happened during April-June, prior to their summer weddings. I saw them stress about not having time to do everything, and knew I could help them by sending thoughtful, meaningful thank you notes to their guests.

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Tell me more about the wedding side of your business?

I love working with brides and grooms during such a happy time in their lives. I also love alleviating their thank you note anxiety so they can thoroughly enjoy all of their celebrations with family and friends. I work with my clients personally so I get to hear how much their friends and family mean to them. Brides and grooms want to be sure these important people feel their deep appreciation. I work with my clients to compose personalized notes that communicate that.

What inspired you to be a charitable vendor? What do you do to give back?

To me, charitable giving is a form of gratitude for my own blessings. The most efficient way I discovered to get that up and running for Personal Scribe Services was to use Swipe for a Cause as our credit card processor. Swipe for a Cause started here in RI and their local cause is Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island, an amazing facility that cared for my dad before he passed last year.

I also look to partner with other charitable vendors so that when their clients use my service, I donate a percentage of my fee to the charity they support. As my business grows, I continue to look for ways to give back.

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I feel that I can really make a difference when I connect with people personally. As a former teacher, the best part of my job was working closely with children. Now that I’m no longer in the classroom, I do pro bono tutoring as the need comes to my attention. I have teacher friends who refer parents to me if they believe I can help their child academically. Private tutoring fees are beyond the reach of many families yet that one-to-one attention goes a long way for those children who need it the most.

Make sure you check out Beth’s wonderful handwritten samples here! If you’re getting married and want to give back, you can support her socially-conscious business or create a charitable wedding registry to help a cause you care about.

Know any wedding vendors that are doing great things to give back? Let us know in the comments and we might feature them next time!

 

#startuplife: Behind the curtain of Heartful.ly

Hello! Kate here, the proud mama/co-founder of Heartful.ly. Every week, our phenomenal blog manager, Andrea, writes about Heartful.ly’s innovative nonprofit partners and philanthropic wedding vendors and trends, but it’s been awhile since I shared a behind-the-scenes-peak into our own operation.

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Since Heartful.ly launched in December 2015, we’ve been on the loop-to-loopiest rollercoaster. On any given day I am on top of the world, under my desk, and every state in between. Real talk: quitting a stable government job to start a company in an industry I knew nothing about and pouring every fiber of my being (and bank account) into it is nuts any which way you slice it. And yet, I have never been more empowered, full of purpose, or energized to wake up every morning and carpe that diem.

Because everyone loves a good list, below is my humble attempt at catching you up on the last six months of madness!

The Highlight Reel-My favorite moments of 2016 (so far)

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 3.26.30 PMWe have 60 nonprofit partners around the world! These organizations are solving some of the world’s biggest problems. Being part of this ecosystem of world changers is a great privilege.


Teaming up with Etsy was a dream come true. Through Etsy’s tres-chic bridal fair in NYC, over $7,000 was raised in support of Heartful.ly partners: Flora Stationery, Jiamini, and Mufindi Orphans. Hooray!


Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 4.00.44 PMOur growing team! The stars just keep aligning. Alex Leach recently came on as co-founder/co-parent/CTO. His heart for nonprofits and decade of experience building and maintaining websites for massive companies made this partnership a no-brainer. Our origin story also happens to be the greatest founders meet cute. We met in my Peace Corps village in 2009. Crazy, right?! Meet the rest of our team.


Becoming a Tory Burch Fellow. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you voted for me at least once. Thank you! This Fellowship has already changed the trajectory of my company (and probably my life). I am so thankful for the Foundation team, my fellow Fellows, and the new mentors who have helped me accelerate my business more in the last month than I could have achieved in six.


Wedding season! Wedding season is upon us and our couples are tying the knot left and right. Nothing and I mean nothing brings me more joy than when a community comes together to celebrate the love of two people and channels that love into a legacy of a safer, healthier, and kinder world.


That’s all she wrote! I look forward to staying in better touch and sharing more insight into the day-to-day shenanigans of growing a startup. If there’s anything that you’d like to hear more about, let me know in the comments!

Big hug,

Kate