I often admire the neon green sticker that sits on the back of my husband’s iPhone which reads: “World Change is How I Roll.” He received it along with two trendy t-shirts — one for me, one for him — after placing an order with Sevenly, a company that specializes in “Do Good, Charity T-Shirts.”
Sevenly’s brilliant business model and edgy, creative t-shirt designs are what sets it apart from most philanthropic for-profit companies. Each week, the company sorts through a list of applications submitted by charities from all across the globe, and after an intense vetting process, chooses one to support for its weekly campaign. Designs are dreamed up based on the charity’s message and mission and the shirts are sold for seven days. For every purchase, Sevenly donates $7 to the charity and then a new campaign is chosen for the following week — “One design. One week. One cause.”
We caught up with Ryan Wood, Director of Public Awareness and Partnerships, to chat about the company’s success and how it’s helping to change the world one shirt at a time.
Culture-ist: We love the slogan “World Change is How We Roll,” do you find that most people buy the shirts to support change?
Wood: Ha, why thanks! In recent Sevenly customer surveys, we have found that a very high percentage of people purchase from Sevenly not just because of the awesome designs, but because they have been introduced to, and educated on, new causes. I strongly believe that this generation is very hungry for change, and Sevenly acts as a hub where communities can get involved in bringing that change about.
Culture-ist: How do you go about choosing which charity to support? Are there certain criteria that must be met?
Wood: First off, charities must apply on our website via our charity-application. Once we have received and reviewed their application, they will be taken through an intense vetting process. We research everything from their Charity Navigator ranking all the way to what sort of salaries their top executives are bringing in on an annual basis. After the charity has completed this process, we determine which charity will have the greatest impact on the cause and then go from there. We’ve worked with charities of all sizes; from the startup stages all the way to organizations such as Autism Speaks, who are world-renowned.
Culture-ist: What has been the most important lesson learned during Sevenly’s first year?
Wood: Sevenly’s biggest lesson learned so far is probably the importance and impact of social media within this age of marketing and communications.
Culture-ist: The idea of selling an item for a limited amount of time is pretty darn brilliant. How was the idea for the “7-7 movement” conceived?
Wood: It’s great brand parallel. $7 donated for every shirt sold, the shirt is only around for 7 days, the supporting of 7 causes, etc. Other than that, we loved the idea of the limited-edition product. It really creates a sense of urgency and uniqueness with our product.
Culture-ist: The designs for the shirts are seriously creative and inspiring. How does your design team come up with them?
Wood: Well first off, we have a phenomenal artist, Drew Melton. Drew works full-time for Sevenly as our Chief Cause Artist where he spends hours upon hours designing and conceptualizing brilliant tag lines and illustrative t-shirt art. After Drew creates the art, it is digitalized and sent to our creative team for critique. Every design that comes from the Sevenly team has been thoroughly thought out and has a deep connection with the cause in order to create a strong bond between the customer and the cause they are supporting.
Culture-ist: We noticed the shirts are not only sustainable, but are also WRAP certified. Why did you decide to go this route?
Wood: Sevenly is committed to ethical business practices up and down the supply chain. Every provider that we work with is thoroughly researched to make sure that these ethical standards are met. If our providers did not meet our ethical standards, we would not work with them.
Culture-ist: Since Sevenly’s conception in June 2011, almost $500,000 has been raised for charity. How has social media contributed to Sevenly’s success?
Wood: Since Sevenly is an e-commerce, our sales come solely from the Internet. Social media takes count for nearly 85 percent of our total revenues and has been able to spread our message to millions of people across the Internet. With having over 300,000+ unique visitors a month to the Sevenly website, social media is proving itself to stand as a pillar within the realm of digital marketing solutions.
Culture-ist: What’s next for Sevenly?
Wood: Sevenly will continue to take world-change head on. We will not stop until we are put out of business from our charity partners being fully funded. On a lighter note, we plan on launching a few new products in the upcoming months that will expand Sevenly’s reach within the consumer market.
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