First and Last Name: Jessica Sjolseth
4 years ago, we adopted two kids (domestically) that were heading into 2nd and 3rd grade. We thought we were prepared for the potential emotional and behavioral issues, but we never anticipated their academic challenges. Since they spent much of their lives homeless or in short-term housing, they missed out on reading books before bedtime, counting Cheerios, writing thank you notes, and the other "teaching" we take for granted. We decided to help non-profits who were not only giving backpacks, but who were invested in the long-term educational success of the children they serve.
OAK (Ordinary Acts of Kindness) Lifestyle was formed with the idea that ordinary people can make a difference. OAK bags are high quality backpacks and bags whose purchase results in a donated backpack + school supplies to a child in need in the United States (homeless children) or Rwanda (impoverished children). Each OAK bag comes with ideas of ways to make a positive impact in the lives of those around you. We hope to inspire our customers to continue other Ordinary Acts of Kindness. We also believe that when we hand a backpack to a child who is struggling, it says "We believe in you. You can be successful." It's an item that is all their own, and receiving it brings enthusiasm for a new year of learning.
Access to education is essential for those who need to improve their financial circumstances, and each patron is supporting education for future generations. There is a very tangible, direct correlation between the bags and the backpack + supplies donation. Patrons are supporting education by simply making an ordinary purchase. We also see OAK as a platform to encourage ordinary people like ourselves to volunteer, give, and perform other acts of kindness (ideally inspiring others to do the same). We also hope the recipients of giveaway bags + supplies will pay it forward to future generations.
Our giving partners aren't simply handing out backpacks and supplies to kids and walking away. The U.S. organization serves the homeless population with tutoring in area shelters provided by certified teachers, counseling provided by supervised graduate social worker students, and more. The African non-profit educates orphaned children, and houses the children in a family setting to nurtures the children's emotional needs. We know there are many more organizations like these (across the world), and the more we take care of their backpack + school supply needs, the more money they can free up to help more children with more full-service resources.
Our relationships with our partners will continue to be just as important as our relationships with our customers. Our current partners are very detailed in the information they collect and report about their efforts and impact, including numbers and demographics of those they serve, declines in drop-out rates, academic success, and post-graduation success stories. We would require this of future partners as well, once we max out our current partners' needs. This is the data that inspires us and motivates us to keep pushing for more sales, along with the stories people share with us about their Ordinary Acts of Kindness following an OAK purchase.
We feel this would not only help us purchase additional inventory (more styles and colors), but it would allow us to sharpen up our branding/collateral, and work with a PR firm to get the story of OAK out to a broader audience. We believe all of the pieces are in place to grow our company: we have an educational and kindness mission that our society supports, quality products, a solid team, excellent customer service, and a detailed business plan. If more retailers and customers were to an aware of OAK, we believe they would be extremely pleased with their experience.
Monday, April 22
Friday, May 17
at 12:00 PM PDT
Friday, May 31
Friday, June 14
at 12:00 PM PDT
Tuesday, July 02