“The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott
You may think it’s a little odd that a t-shirt company’s favorite phrase is “It’s not about t-shirts.” After all, if it’s not about t-shirts, why get into the t-shirt business in the first place? But the truth is, a business worth having is never about the product it sells. It’s about much, much more.
Don Kick, the founder of Impact Shirts, got into the t-shirt business to use his creativity to help churches, businesses, and schools unite their members and help their communities thrive. In 25 years of business, he has served thousands of everyday leaders by providing world-class service and results they can take to the bank. Through these relationships he has met several leaders whose unconventional business savvy and commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) encouraged him to give more back and think about t-shirts even less.
One such leader is Lukas VanDyke. Lukas and his wife Suzy founded Wild & Free Supply, a fine leather goods manufacturer. They started their company with the purpose of transforming lives. Their beautifully crafted leather bags, wallets, and belts are handmade by craftsmen in Honduras who might otherwise have no income with which to provide for their families.
So we tracked Lukas down to find out more about Wild & Free Supply and their commitment to CSR. In doing so, we discovered three key ways that Lukas’ God-given creativity and drive to give back has resulted in something much more valuable than profit.
A trip to Honduras brought Lukas and Suzy face to face with extreme poverty and the misery it brings. They made friends with several individuals who were capable of working but were unable to find steady work to provide for their families. Lukas and Suzy left Honduras determined to do something to help their friends thrive. Today, Wild & Free Supply offers consistent work and income for incredible people who are also passionate about serving their communities. Using fair trade policies and ethical business practices they treat their workers as friends, caring more about their needs than their own bottom line. The result is that Wild & Free creates fresh hope and freedom for families.
It’s great to live in a world where nearly everything you could ever need is available at an affordable price. But mass-produced products are never all they seem on the big box shelf or online mega store. These days very few products are made with quality and longevity in mind. On subsequent trips to Honduras, Lukas trained a group of people to create beautiful, handmade products that serve a purpose and retain their value. Sure, production costs are quite a bit more, but the product is worth the price it demands. “There are a lot of companies who seek out low-grade and fake materials just to make money,” said Lukas. “It makes me stand an inch taller knowing the products we sell are built with excellence and integrity.” To hold one of Lukas’ products in your hand reminds you of days gone by – days when things were made to last.
Probably the most personal result of Lukas’ creative entrepreneurship is its positive impact on his family. A successful business by definition provides income for the family, but in Lukas’ case Wild & Free Supply provides meaning, fulfillment, and freedom. “I worked as an employee for many years,” said Lukas, “which was great for that period of my life. But there was always a fire in me to start something new, something that helps and serves people.” Rather than seeking a job at a company that already exists, he and Suzy developed a family mission to work on things together. They wanted to do what they enjoy and do what they do best. Today, they enjoy working side by side every day creating wealth and opportunity for others. Their infant son even gets into the act. He’s listed under the staff section of the Wild & Free Supply website as “Joy Giver and Inspiration.” His name? Wilder Freedom VanDyke.
At time of publication, Wild & Free Supply just launched a massive Kickstarter fundraising campaign to take the company to its next level of growth. The message of Wild & Free Supply resonates so loudly with the public that in less than 3 hours, they blew past their $10,000 goal. This capital investment will allow them to purchase new equipment and materials like brass hardware and the highest quality leather. More importantly, the craftspeople who create the products will experience even greater stability and freedom in their work as well.
To learn more about Wild & Free Supply and find your own hand made leather bag, visit WildAndFreeSupply.com. And if you’d like to contribute to their growth and get some pretty cool premiums for your trouble, visit their Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign.