Cause and Effect: How One Small Business Is Fighting Cancer
An Interview with PRET*TY
Behind PRET*TY’s beautiful bracelets and playful charms lies a very serious mission: Raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer research. It’s a cause the company’s founder, Cindy Campbell, is passionate about after having lost her son, Ty, to cancer in 2012. Now, Cindy spends her time creating the kinds of accessories people will love wearing. The catch? All of it is not for profit. Read on to learn how Cindy stays focused despite the challenges she’s faced. For more information on Cindy’s cause, check out Superty.org.
Name: Cindy Campbell
City: Carmel, NY
Store Owner Since: 2013
Opened on Storenvy: 2013
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Healer.
Storenvy: What are the most difficult challenges you face running a small business, especially one that is not-for-profit?
Cindy Campbell: The beauty of designing and selling merchandise to benefit our nonprofit lies in the fact that our challenges are also our greatest reward. Of course, being small and lean means limited resources, which is never easy, but our volunteers are as dedicated as they are diligent. They can only come into the office 2 or 3 days a week so fulfillment needs can build up at times – which means added pressure – but they find such joy in knowing that their hands-on contributions are directly helping kids with cancer by helping us fund childhood cancer research in my son’s memory. Walking into the office of our nonprofit, it becomes very obvious that we don’t spend money on our surroundings, and we don’t have a lot of fancy equipment. We have a room full of people who love to chat around the table while charming bracelets and filling orders and there’s no place we would rather be.
What advice would you offer other small business owners as they get started?
Marketing, especially for a small business, is so very important. I think small businesses benefit from finding their unique character, and making that stand out among the big players so the buyer can appreciate your individuality. When you have a great logo, a great product, and a great boilerplate about your brand that stands out, your buyer will feel like he or she has stumbled upon a little secret. Like he or she is discovering a diamond in the rough – which is something to brag about! Word about a unique new product travels fast, as does feedback about the shopping experience. When dealing with small business, the buyer likes to feel like they are in direct contact with the key players – so it’s a good idea to personalize the experience by including unique inserts along with your product as part of the fulfillment process. Respond to inquiries quickly and enforce a thorough return/exchange process, even if it costs you, because your customers will return if they have a great experience without risk.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience? What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The sheer volume of sales has been my greatest reward, because after all, we need to make a whole lot of money to fund cancer research. And I won’t stop until there is a cure because children should not suffer like my son did. Did you know that childhood cancer is the number one cause of death by disease among children? Seven children die every day in the US alone. This needs to improve and that is what we are trying to do.
Raising awareness can be a difficult task. How has having an online store helped you work towards this?
It is an incredible advantage to redirect our supporters to an online store. Of course, we have several platforms for fundraising, but by adding a great product to the mix we have been able to reach an entirely new audience who are first interested in the bracelet, and then learn about the cause. Photos of PRET*TY jewelry trend on Instagram or Pinterest because people love the product, and through those social media channels an entire new audience is introduced to Ty’s story and the greater facts about childhood cancer. They become advocates, donors, volunteers. It is truly a magical effect.
The Ty Louis Campbell (TLC) Foundation and PRET*TY are in support of an amazing cause. What is your ideal goal for each for the future?
For PRET*TY, I dream of seeing some of our designs made in fine metals and sold on the shelves of major national retailers such as Nordstrom or Lord & Taylor. In fact, I dream of seeing more charitable merchandise specific to childhood cancer in general. Today you see a lot of pink ribbons, cause-related marketing on cereal boxes, sports equipment for various charities… but rarely is there a product that benefits childhood cancer research and I hope the PRET*TY brand provides that bridge into the mainstream marketplace.
Our mission at TLC is to fund innovative research and technology specifically geared toward the treatment of the deadliest childhood cancers. Our organization seeks less toxic, more effective treatments that are specifically designed for children fighting cancer. One day, if we meet a little boy with the same disease my son suffered from, but who has a lifetime ahead of him that our son didn’t have, then we will have achieved the world.
Read more about PRET*TY and shop the store here.