Many retail brands are doing more than simply selling product. Some use revenues to donate to charities, focus on environmental sustainability, run programs benefiting impoverished areas of the world, among other notable efforts. At the 2019 Women in Retail Leadership Summit, we featured a panel discussion with leaders from such purpose-driven companies.

Panelists Lisa Bradley, co-founder and co-CEO, R.Riveter; Maggie Braine, vice president, product and brand experience, Bulletin; and Stephanie Cocumelli, former vice president, direct to consumer, retail, TOMS, shared their stories with moderator Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO of KIDBOX.

Cocumelli said she always felt torn between her fast-paced business career, making a difference in people’s lives, and having a family. Working at TOMS “allowed me the opportunity to bring some of those things together, and it’s certainly very fulfilling.”

“It was the same conversation with every military spouse I knew — no one will hire me,” recalled Bradley. “I’ve got kids and it doesn’t make economic sense for me to go into the workforce and try to balance that with childcare costs. So my co-founder and I said by us not doing something that we were part of the problem.” Bradley and her co-founder launched a business model that gave income opportunities to military spouses that’s mobile and flexible, and began sewing handbags in her attic.

Bulletin is a retail tech startup that democratizes access to physical retail for brands. Currently, the company operates three stores in New York that host women-led brands, and 10 percent of its proceeds go to Planned Parenthood of New York City. “Seeing how we could send our funds to a women’s health organization was particularly important and really tied back to everything we were doing,” Braine said. “Creating this ecosystem for female business owners was kind of a non-negotiable for me.”

During the panel, Berardelli shared how she “decided that it was table stakes for me to be in an organization and get up every day and do something that has a higher calling.”

She realized that she wanted to become involved in a purpose-driven organization, and that’s why she chose a new and growing brand like KIDBOX. Berardelli said that her first boss and mentor sat her down and told her, “you’re a builder. The minute you go from building to maintaining, you’re bored out of your mind and you’ll need to move on.” This feedback lit a spark in her, and by joining KIDBOX Berardelli fulfilled her passion to help others and satisfied her nonstop work ethic.

To hear more about these purpose-driven retail companies and the women executives leading them, members can click here to watch the full Purpose-Driven Retail panel from the 2019 Women in Retail Leadership Summit.

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