When Giving Is More Than A Gesture: Founder Packs A Purpose
If it is better to give than to receive, then it is best to give a gift that has a social justice component.
Leeatt Rothschild, the founder of Chicago-based Packed with Purpose, says the company she started in 2016 is a gifting company wrapped in a social mission and is the “perfect dance between business and social impact.”
With more than 100 Purposeful Purveyors chosen from local, national and global communities, Rothschild says the handcrafted products curated from enterprises that employ people with disabilities and other barriers to the traditional workforce, offer gifts that indeed keep on giving.
“The product has to be top quality, but it also has to do good,” says Rothschild, who has a “handful” of full time employees, and uses a third party logistics provider in Chicago, Planet Access, with a 75,000-square foot warehouse serving as the fulfillment center for packing and shipping, and also employing adults with disabilities.
“Social mission is integrated end to end,” says Rothschild, a native of the Chicago area.
According to the Advertising Specialty Institute’s 2018 Corporate Gift Giving Study, “42 percent of employers plan to give gifts to workers. That’s up from 40 percent in 2017. More than one-third (37 percent) of companies anticipate that they will provide gifts to prospects and clients.”
Companies also give to their own employees, according to ASI. “Of the companies planning to provide gifts to employees, a firm majority (75 percent) expect to include all workers in their gifting. On average, companies giving gifts plan to include nearly nine in 10 of all their employees in the altruistic outreach.”
At a time when more companies and enterprises want to give purposeful gifts and be “good corporate citizens” with social justice as an “integral part of the company’s DNA,” Rotshchild says her company matches mission with practicality, benefiting both the creator of the product and the recipient.
She has had a life of matching purpose with action. In her gap year before college, Rothschild spent a year in Mexico completing a service project for Rotary Youth Ambassador for Rotary International. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2002, Rothschild joined the U.S. Peace Corps, living in Paraguay working on economic development opportunities for rural farmers.
She then worked for Euromonitor International, a global business intelligence company from 2005-2008, before pursuing a dual degree at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with an MBA and a degree in international studies from the Lauder Institute.
From 2010 to 2014, she worked for a digital agency and then as a chief strategy officer for a financial consulting company.
Looking around her office during the holiday at the tins of popcorn, baskets of fruit and containers of chocolates she received every year, she says she thought, “There is no way this is as good as business gifts get.”
Because she had colleagues working with social justice enterprises and foundations with social missions, she wanted to marry the two and produce high quality products “that could produce multiple effects.”
Focusing on corporate gifts for hundreds of clients, Rothschild says her company sent out 6,000 professional, corporate and personal gifts, and is on target to triple that this year.
Corporate gift giving is a $60 billion per year business, and Rothschild—who says she is no relation to the global entrepreneurial family– but the social enterprise community is “a cottage industry.”
Looking for purveyors who help specific communities such as the disabled, domestic violence survivors, the homeless and veterans, Rothschild says partnering with Packed With Purpose assists in solid outcomes for these companies. In that way she is more of a dolphin tank for entrepreneurs, than a shark tank.
“As we grow we help our purveyors grow,” Rothschild says. “We are broadcasting their missions with a megaphone, but also broadcasting it with delicious toffee or beautiful notebooks.”
Having far surpassed her own expectations for the venture in the past two years, Rothschild says she intends for her company to become a household name like Harry & David’s.
Rothschild also says she can see a future expanding into more consumables and wearables. “We can create products and provide employment and social benefits.”
She adds, “Everything has a solution. If you listen and communicate, you will find a good idea.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com