So here's a story I'll look forward to telling my grandchildren. How does someone go from founding a multi-million dollar computer company and making all kinds of money, to creating a "start-up" business that's all about raising money to fight some of the world's most important causes and trying to make a difference?
Once upon a time, my brother and I were partners in a large computer products distribution company...me with a background in PR, specializing in computer companies, him with a background in large computer systems sales. So, it made perfect sense to work together and build a computer company from the ground up into a corporate machine with sales of more than $100 million a year. Boy was it fun, for a while... Then, one day, we both looked at each other and realized we were unhappy and what the heck were we doing? The things we enjoyed and were passionate about, starting and then growing a company, were gone and we were simply running a business. The word, "fulfilling," was certainly no longer in our vocabulary.
Our solution was to get back to our roots. After all, we were entrepreneurs at heart. Now, I do have to digress and tell you that my brother is one of those, what I'll endearingly call, "Creative Nut Jobs." (He'll also want you to know that I'm older by three years.) He's the guy who, seemingly out of nowhere, comes up with wonderful, off center, new business ideas...the kind that you scratch your head and ask, "Who comes up with this stuff?" Well, now I know.) So, in our minds, the consummate business for us was a product and business development company. And, thus was born 2Cool Corporation because there were two of us and we were pretty cool (at least in our own minds...).
I have to say that the maze of products we created and brought to market in this new entity is responsible for getting us to our current "I'm Tired of..." charitable campaign, which truly has brought "fulfilling" back to us. What we are doing now is amazingly gratifying and eye opening... but more on that in a minute.
Here's the path (in one long breath). We started with a toy (a crazy idea that Brother Dan came up with) that we ultimately sold to a toy company and it seeded the next project, which was a collection of high end handbags, made from stingray skins (that's right, the fish...) that were being tossed out by fisherman. Don't ask how we got from toys to fish, but it became very successful and was sold into stores like Neiman Marcus. The handbags led us to a line of fun fashion jewelry that hung from the belt loop of your jeans, called Jean Jewel...a little fad here that then got huge, all because Paris Hilton wore it hanging from her bikini and a myriad of other celebrities got into it (did I just refer to Paris as a celebrity?). Go figure. That took us into another line of jewelry, this time socially conscious and spiritual in nature. While trying to promote that collection, we realized there weren't a lot of publications covering socially conscious or eco-conscious fashion, which led us into doing it ourselves by creating WhiteApricot.com, our online newsletter and website that's all about eco and socially conscious fashion, which led us to "I'm Tired of..." bracelets. Whew!
What's important though is that the "I'm Tired of..." campaign grew out of writing about so many good companies in White Apricot that were trying to make a difference by donating a portion of their sales or profits to charity. It triggered something in us. At a very young age, we lost our father to heart disease. He was only 37. As adults, we watched our step father fight through melanoma cancer and leukemia, and eventually die from the latter. Most recently, our mother succumbed to dementia and slowly deteriorated for eight years. In addition to disease, which impacts so many people, there were also the global issues that touch us all and make us want to advocate change, things like world hunger, child abuse and animal cruelty. We realized that there is so much to be done in the world, but it would be difficult to make a difference unless we created a way that everyone could participate. What if we could build a community of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people, each contributing a small amount? What if we could create very inexpensive, but cool fashionable products that people could buy, and in doing so, they would be making donations to a multitude of causes that are important to them? If it snowballed, we could raise millions of dollars to fight for the world's most important causes.
So, here we are with the "I'm Tired of..." bracelet campaign, absolutely the most gratifying endeavor we have ever undertaken. We've created a very cool, fashionable $10 bracelet (not another silicone one) that's eco -riendly, made from recycled tires and metals. And, we're donating half of each sale ($5) to many charities, fighting against important causes, from animal cruelty, world hunger and global warming to cancer, autism and diabetes, things that we are all tired of.
I think we'll hang around doing this one.