Fully “Engaged” in Helping Others

Fully “Engaged” in Helping Others

December 29, 2020 • by Robert Jones


Fully “Engaged” in Helping Others

Fully “Engaged” in Helping Others 1620 1080 Robert Jones

We first discovered Jessica Clarke when she launched her own jewelry line with Unlocked, a thriving social enterprise in Nashville that offers empowerment and income for women transitioning out of homelessness.

One look at her Instagram showed that Jess has a pretty serious platform, with nearly 200,000 highly engaged followers. Moreover, she works hard to use that platform as a champion of social enterprise, small business, healthy living, and charitable giving.

So we had to wonder: How does a 25-year-old entrepreneur, esthetician, and bride-to-be find her voice, grow an audience, and build a brand that’s much more than skin deep?

No one was more surprised than we were when she agreed to tell us.

Finding a Platform

Ben Higgins wears a "Be Generous" tee shirt as he stands with his fiancee, Jess Clarke

RJ: I contacted you out of the blue asking you to take the Spend-Gooder Pledge, and you were like, “Yep, I’m on it.” No explaining, no persuading – you just understood right away why it matters. Why is that? Why are you so committed to social enterprise?

JC: There are two reasons why I am very committed to social enterprise, and both of them are really personal to me. First, my fiance has a coffee company that is a for-profit company whose mission is to give back to not-for-profits. We have traveled to Honduras together multiple times and I have seen firsthand the impact that these social enterprises have on real people.

Then, when I designed a jewelry line with Unlocked in Nashville, we have been able to provide jobs for three women transitioning out of homelessness. When you realize that where you spend your dollar can actually change lives, you can’t go back.

RJ: So you’re also engaged to a social entrepreneur! Folks will probably jump over to your Instagram anyway, so why don’t you go ahead and tell them about Ben Higgins?

JC: Ben is simply the best. He’s the reason why I have a platform and try my best to use it for purposes greater than me. He was the Bachelor on the ABC show about 5 years ago and has always used the platform it gave him for a greater purpose. Mainly, he founded Generous Coffee in order to help fundraise for Humanity and Hope United whose work is centered in Honduras.

Impact Inspired by Mom

Jess Clarke wears the Jilly necklace + hugger earrings

RJ: We’ll come back to the wedding in a moment. But first, let’s talk about your jewelry line for Unlocked. How did that happen, and how does it make you feel to know that you have a role in helping these women build a better future?

JC: It’s such a crazy story! My mom designed a dainty cross necklace for me about 4 or 5 Christmases ago and ever since then, I get asked where I got it almost every day. I tried to design it and manufacture it myself 3 different times and they all fell through. I had a phone call in the spring with Unlocked to talk about maybe being an ambassador for them and once I heard their mission to provide work for women transitioning out of homelessness and then how they source their materials, etc., I knew these were the people I wanted to work with.

Never in a million years did I think that the line would be as successful as it has been or that we would already be creating more jobs. It has been the coolest thing to be a part of and my proudest accomplishment to date.

Top 3 Causes

Jess Clarke playing with two young girls in Honduras

RJ: Besides helping women get back on their feet, what are some of the other causes that you care about? Let’s say, just your top three.

JC: Well, Humanity and Hope United and the people in Honduras, for sure! I think being able to go there and see for myself how much of an impact a job can make for people in these communities has shifted my perspective forever.

Next, there’s Love One International – it was founded by one of my best friends’ mom, and they do a similar outreach in Uganda. They recently bought a plot of land so the people there can farm and create an income for themselves and they also help facilitate adoptions and care for the orphans in Uganda. I am so proud of them and actually am planning to go to Uganda as soon as we can!

And finally, I’d say poverty in my community. There is a responsibility that comes with the privilege that I was born into. That means we need to take care of those around us that for whatever reason, didn’t “win the birth lottery.” I have learned that there is always more to give and you don’t have to go to Honduras or Uganda to find the places that need it; most of the time it’s in your backyard.

Gifting for Others

Jess and Ben sit in the bed of a vintage red pickup truck

RJ: And finally, back to the wedding. It’s the biggest day of your life, but even then, you’re using it to help others. Tell us what you did for bridesmaid gifts.

JC: Well a lot of the reason behind my bridesmaid gifts was a little selfish! I wanted all of my friends to have the necklace and also to be able to wear it to all of the wedding festivities and I thought the best way to do that would be to gift them to my bridesmaids! I wanted to make it a little bit more personalized and Unlocked was in the middle of creating these initial charms, so it worked out perfectly.

They each got a necklace with the cross charm and then a charm for their first initial. I love that they’ll be able to wear them all of the time and have a story to tell. Hopefully word of mouth will bring more people to purchase from Unlocked!

RJ: I think that’s genius. Our big message at Cause Consumer is that every spending decision is a chance to do some good in the world. So thanks for modeling that, even on an occasion that’s supposed to be all about you. Any advice for other brides who want their wedding to have a positive impact on the world?

JC: First, your website [Cause Consumer] is a great resource to see a lot of companies with a mission-minded business model! There are so many cool gifts you can give and people to support. I think there are also a lot of sustainable ways to do a wedding. You can use biodegradable confetti and reusable plates and cups, etc. We are going to have an option for our registry for guests to donate to a cause important to us instead of buying a gift. Also, you can always serve Generous coffee at the end of your reception!

RJ: Thanks for sharing. Hope we can check back with you periodically about great social impact brands you’ve discovered and how you’re trying to make a difference with your everyday spending.

***

Spend for good: There are currently three items in the Jess Clarke line at Unlocked: The Jilly necklace and Jilly hugger earrings, inspired by her mom, plus the Siblings necklace inspired by the custom tattoo that Jess shares with her two brothers. Like all of the other jewelry at Unlocked, each piece is made from recycled metals and comes with a bio of the Unlocked Maker, written by the woman herself. 

Pledge for good: Every week we offer original reporting to help you create a better world with the money you’re spending anyway. Click here to join the movement by taking the Spend-Gooder Pledge. All it takes is 30 seconds (and 0 dollars).

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Cause: Community • Format: In Depth
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