This is a story of a journey still in motion. Two girls — Annalisa and Tanja met while working at break-neck speed at a start-up in Boston, MA. They struck up a friendship based on mutual admiration for each other’s style and their love for the band Over the Rhine. They also both (at different times) owned orange VW Beetles. Uncanny, no? Fast-forward 2 years. Tanja is tuckered out from the break-neck-ness of the daily grind, hungering to do something “bigger” that feels purposeful, giving back to the greater good. She shares this gnawing empty feeling with Annalisa, and they both start talking about what their dreams, their passions and what they really wish they could be doing in the every-day. Tanja hatches a plan to head to South Asia for a chunk of months to spend time talking, listening, and researching women’s co-ops that are strategically employing at-risk women in a parts of the world where most women are traditionally marginalized, often trafficked for sex, and therefore robbed of very little opportunity for education and dignified employment. What Tanja finds in her travels is both heart-breaking, mind-blowing and totally, completely humbling. It was equally exciting and hope-giving both in the exploration of solutions applied by non-profits and for-profit co-ops and in the revelation of possibly opportunity of providing creative work for talented, capable women in the developing world. Tanja returns home to the U.S., a little shell-shocked, a lot overwhelmed but with a head and heart full of the something “bigger”. Several months pass and she meets up with old friend Annalisa who meanwhile has also left the break-neck-ness for a less crazed environment but is (more than ever) determined to figure out a way to do something “bigger”. And Tanja all the while is hoping and praying for a business partner to buckle-up alongside her in figuring out the answer to, “What can 2 girls with graphic and web-design backgrounds do to create sustainable, opportunity-giving jobs for women in the developing world?” We start talking, dreaming, “what-iffing” and before we know it, we have started a company called GIVE | GIVE. Our manifesto being based on something that Jesus said about “GIVE and it will be GIVEN unto you.” We loved this idea of giving being a two-fold experience. Giving of yourself and your  talents is a reward in itself. But really, our core mission was to design products that could be created and produced in partnership with women’s co-ops in places where women really need dignifying work— giving them employment, and giving us beautiful products that carry their story. Our first project will be in Nepal. We currently have 4 felt bags designed that we are planning to market to small-batch, design-focused boutiques stateside. Each bag will be hand-crafted by a Nepali woman. So, every bag purchased will be a gift not only to the person that buys it, but it will giving a fair-wage income to a woman in Nepal.  GIVE | GIVE. We are thrilled (and a bit nervous) to be headed to Nepal to begin the partnership process. We know there will be A LOT of learning in this process. Holstee has been a great motivator on many levels. Yes, we love your aesthetic, but we are mostly just inspired by companies like yours that are going for it! Against the odds, you’re an example of living with courage and passion. And, we raise our glass to that! Thanks for letting us share our story.

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