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10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support

by Quelcy Kogel

This past fall, I had the great privilege of attending the last In The Company of Women book tour event in Philadelphia. It was a week after the election. Spirits were understandably dashed, but definitely not defeated. The creative community came together, shed a few tears, laughed heartily and felt inspired by each other. Above all, there was a very palpable commitment to be stronger, more confident, to listen and to be heard.

I’m truly grateful for the Design*Sponge community because just when I start to feel the state of affairs weighing on me, I’ll read a post or jump on an assignment that reminds me of this: creativity and design are important! We designers can make an impact. We do not have to be made of time or money to support the causes we believe in because we can think outside the box.

I hope this roundup of 10 socially conscious brands inspires you not only to support these creative businesses, but also to find your own voice and your own way to stand up for your causes. I know they inspired me. This is merely scratching the surface, so please share other inspiring businesses or projects to support in the comments below. —Quelcy

10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
Thistle Farms is a sanctuary for women who are survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking and prostitution. Named for the resilient, prickly flower that grows through the roughest of terrains, symbolically, Thistle “Farmers” harvest the world’s beauty from the rough. Thistle Farms' social enterprises employ residents and graduates of the residential program to acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. They run a natural bath and body product line, an online shop, a cafe, a studio for arts training and a global marketplace.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
To stay informed and active in today’s political climate requires a fair bit of self-care, too. If quiet time with a flickering candle is your thing, be sure to add Prosperity Candle to your collection. Every candle purchased from Prosperity Candle helps provide a living wage for women who have recently resettled from refugee camps and are working to build a brighter future in the United States. Be sure to read their refugees' stories and send them notes of encouragement.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
What if we invited refugees from across the globe to join us in our kitchens and dining rooms, to enrich our own culture? This is the concept behind Syr, a crowdfunded restaurant in Utrecht, Netherlands that employs recently arrived Syrian and Afghan refugees, offering them a platform to share their cuisine, to earn money, to share their stories and to pursue educational programs. The menu is Syrian with a European twist -- think red beet hummus and flaky puff pastries with za’atar. Food becomes a bridge to language, to friendships, to acclimating without losing a rich history, and it looks delicious!
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
Maybe a trip to Utrecht to eat at Syr isn’t exactly feasible, so here’s the next best way to eat in support of Syrian refugees. The profits from the sales of the Soup for Syria cookbook will be donated to help fund food relief efforts through the United Nations' UNHCR. Who knows? Maybe through a pot of homemade soup, you’ll be able to help someone else in need in your own community, or possibly convince someone to share a table instead of building a wall.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
At last, an excuse to eat more fried chicken and donuts! Every week, Philly’s Federal Donuts serves its iconic fried chicken sandwich and donuts, then turns 500 pounds of spare chicken parts into broth for its sister restaurant, Rooster Soup Company, which donates 100% of its profits to the Broad Street Ministry. Guests at BSM are seated by a host and eat a three-course meal, prepared by a professional chef, served by a volunteer wait staff. BSM also serves as a mailing address, enabling guests to get an ID, housing, employment and benefits. #EatWellDoRight
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
“If you're tired of being told you should be seen and not heard, crabby about social justice issues, and find it difficult to not voice your opinions - join the Club,” the Fussbudget Club, that is. Founded by Gwynne Siak, club activities include “petting dogs, eating chips, reading comics, and illustrating weird things,” and most importantly, wearing this patch! Gwynne is donating 100% of the profits from her Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Dissent” series (this patch, these buttons and a mug) to Planned Parenthood, The ACLU, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Buy all three so you’re covered by RBG in all situations.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
Forget wearing your heart on your sleeve; wear your beliefs around your neck with one of the silk scarves from The Take A Stand Project founded by designers May Shek, Karla Mickens Cole, Raquel Martinez and Jenny Christian. Depending on the scarf, 100% of the proceeds go toward either Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, the National Organization for Women or The International Refugee Assistance Project. This bright beauty supports The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
Whether you’re writing to your senators or your closest friends, jazz up your correspondence with a quirky patterned card from Molly Kennedy-Darling’s Etsy shop. Inspired by the Women’s March, Molly is donating all of her 2017 Etsy shop profits to Planned Parenthood. She also offers wholesale pricing, so if you are a shop owner, consider stocking these cards both for their whimsy and for a good cause.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
Maybe you’re looking for ways to give, but you don’t have a product to sell? Take a page out of studio mates Lisa Troutman and Sara Montour’s book, and offer your artistic services in support of your favorite mission. Lisa is an illustrator (Drawn Well) and created the “Wall of Love” filled with positive vibes. For the month of February, Sara, a “photographer of rad kids” is offering stress-free, 10-minute, family-friendly photo sessions in front of the wall, and 100% of the session fees support the ACLU and Take Action Minnesota. So far, Sara has hustled hard and raised $1,600 for those causes. Be sure to check out #walloflovesessions to soak up some positive vibes.
10 Socially Conscious Brands to Support via Design*Sponge
Hey, it’s me, and that’s the fella I introduced you to in my roundup of Urban Farmers. He also happens to be my partner, my biggest supporter and my sounding board for all my work. While telling him how inspired I was by this assignment, we started talking about how we could help. Standing Rock was really weighing on us, so Kyle put his graphic design skills to work and designed these hoodies and shirts, and I found Bonfire- a site that makes it super simple to sell your designs for your chosen cause. 100% of the proceeds will support the Sacred Stone Camp as the Water Protectors continue to fight for clean water and sacred land. Photo cred: Adam Milliron.

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