Hannah Rabalais is one of those rare people who thinks about social enterprise every day. To be clear, some of that comes with her job: She’s a program officer at the Kleinert Foundation, a Dallas-based foundation with an unusual strategic focus on supporting businesses that give back.
But she’s not content just to support these businesses with OPM – other people’s money. In her personal life, too, Hannah seeks out products and services from companies that are trying to make the world a better place.
Whether it’s boosting her immune system with essential oils or keeping her sleeves rolled up with fashionable cuffs, Hannah tries to make sure that her everyday spending creates a positive impact. Naturally, we had some questions about the why and the how.
“I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to be able to access dignified employment; it’s my mission in life to make sure other women are afforded the same opportunities that I have had because every woman is worthy of that.”
CC: At the highest level, why do you shop in support of social causes?
HR: I genuinely believe that mainstream business has moved away from its primary purpose, to serve people, especially those they employ. I believe that everyone deserves dignified employment, and that’s why I support social enterprises. I know when I do, my spending goes back to either their employees, programming, higher salaries, and to move the needle on the specific issue that the organization highlights.
Our current consumer ecosystem feels mindless, and we don’t have to put much thought into anything because we can buy anything we want in one button click and have it on our doorstep within two days. It’s our duty as human beings to take care of each other and demand dignity for everyone. When we take time to seek out businesses that are reinvesting in people and our planet, our world will be better.
I feel like COVID-19 has forced us to all slow down and reevaluate what we hold important. I am hopeful people will be seeking more social enterprises to support. Every dollar we spend has power, and I choose to use my power for the highest good possible.
CC: What was the last item you bought from a social enterprise, and why did you buy it?
HR: I just recently bought cuffs and covers from Cuffed Up. I bought them for two reasons. One it’s something that I actually needed. I have short arms, and I’ve needed something to help keep my sleeves rolled up because I have to roll every long sleeve thing I own. I just love the innovative spirit of this company!
The second reason is they recently started employing a graduate from Love & Freedom, an organization that Cause Consumer highlighted a couple of months ago. Cuffed Up is in the process of transforming their business model to incorporate some sort of give back model, and I wanted to support them on their journey.
CC: What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever bought from a social enterprise, and why?
HR: This was one of the hardest questions because I’ve honestly loved everything I’ve bought from a social enterprise. One of my favorite aspects of shopping at social enterprises is that everything is so well made; it’s hard not to love!
If I had to choose, it would be my many pairs of Worthy Co. earrings. One, I get so many compliments on them. Two, my purchase supports women who have been trafficked or have suffered from addiction in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. The quality of the earrings is incredible, and they brighten up my day, every time I wear them (which is almost every day).
CC: When you’re looking to buy an item in support of a cause, what’s the cause that moves you most?
HR: After going through my list of social enterprises that I regularly support, they all had one thing in common: women’s empowerment. Being female myself, I know how hard it is to navigate this predominantly male serving world. Women are paid significantly less in traditional employment opportunities; the working conditions and requirements are not conducive to working mothers; and women, especially women of color, are the most marginalized in our society.
Women need better and more dignified employment opportunities, and social enterprises have stepped in to fill that gap. I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to be able to access dignified employment; it’s my mission in life to make sure other women are afforded the same opportunities that I have had because every woman is worthy of that.
CC: We like to think about lifestyle spending in five big buckets: travel and leisure, food and drink, home, fashion, and wellness. As you think about your own lifestyle, if you wanted to shift $5 a week (or $20 a month) from “regular” companies to social impact companies, where would be the easiest area to do it?
HR: For me, it’s wellness at the moment. I wish it were fashion, and I think if more companies incorporated some sort of payment plan option like Afterpay, I would be able to shift more money into supporting those organizations. I will give a shout out to Tribe Alive and Able, because they recently added that option, and that’s been the only way I’ve been able to make purchases from them.
In the wellness space, I am an essential oil addict, and it’s been a part of my wellness routine to incorporate oils for several years now. But a couple of years ago, I transitioned to working at a nonprofit, and I couldn’t afford them anymore. Then a year ago or so, Savhera, one of my favorite social enterprises, launched. Not only do they employ and empower women in India and Texas, but they’re also on a mission to make wellness more accessible.
It’s a win/win! I can now buy organic essential oils, and I get to impact women’s lives positively. You need to listen to the podcast interview I did with the co-founders, Dr. Vanessa and Noel Bouché, they’re incredible leaders in this space.
CC: Tell us the top three books you’ve read recently to help you be more intentional about your everyday impact.
HR: The book that I am currently reading/working through is Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. I believe if you’re white, and called to be a change maker, you must first do the internal work before you can truly impact the world around you. Me and White Supremacy has helped me start a daily anti-racism practice and understand my white privilege.
We cannot deny that most of the work that social entrepreneurs seek to address or change is rooted in systemic racism. Anti-racism is a daily practice that we must be committed to if we want to change the world.
Diffusing Dignity, a collection of meditations by Savhera, is the book I turn to every morning to ground myself. It helps connects me to the community that Savhera has created. Every meditation, image, and reflection question is truly inspiring and a blessing to my life. The last book I will mention is Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. It truly inspires me to be a better leader. I can’t get enough of Queen Brené!
CC: You’ve clearly done your homework on Cause Consumer, because you’ve mentioned several brands that we featured here in the past. So now play editor for a minute: Tell us one social enterprise that you think everyone should know about, and we promise to reach out to them for an interview.
HR: The one social enterprise that I think everyone should know about is Thistle Farms. Becca Stevens, the founder is one of my favorite people on the planet, and she started Thistle Farms over 20 years ago before social enterprise mainstream. Their impact is global and they’re truly thought leaders in this space.
CC: Finally, tell us when your birthday is, and drop a hint to your friends: What’s a gift you would love to receive that comes with a social purpose?
I can’t leave out Bonton Farms, Ruthie’s, and Café Momentum! People always want to take you out to eat for your birthday, and I’d love to know that the calories are doing some good. When you guys were in Dallas, you did a story on eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner for social impact – that would be the perfect birthday itinerary.
Spend for good: Do you consider yourself a Cause Consumer? Please shoot us an email and tell us how you’re trying to make the world a better place with your everyday spending. Who knows, you might be our next “Why I Buy” feature!
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