I’ve got news – I’m pregnant! So, naturally, I’ve starting taking a vested interest in children’s activities, toys, things for their rooms etc, and have been wondering how I can have social impact within this new element of my life too. Happily, I’ve found out that there are lots of options. You’ve got organic baby clothes, upcycled furniture and amazing businesses like cuddle + kind.
Now before I start, cuddle + kind first catch your eye with their beautiful, handmade dolls. However, as you learn more about their business, you realize how far their social impact goes.
Cuddle + kind was founded by family of five – Jen, Derek, Ethan, Brooke and Rachel Woodgate – after watching a documentary about child hunger. Hunger and malnutrition are leading causes of sickness and death in children globally. Unfortunately, there are about 66 million primary school-aged children attend classes hungry every day, and 45% of deaths in children under five are caused by poor nutrition. That’s 3.1 million children who die each year simply because they are not getting the basic, essential nutrition that they need.
Inspired to do something about it, the Woodgate’s set up a crowdfunding campaign for cuddle + kind and reached their funding goal in one day. Their business took off and just six weeks after launching, the family was able to donate over 163,000 meals to children in the USA and abroad. This was possible because for every doll they sell, ten meals are donated to children in need through partnership organizations.
The cuddle + kind model is well thought out creates positive impacts at every stage of their business. Firstly, the dolls themselves are individual and unique, each one coming with it’s own identity and special quote. Messages like, “Believe in yourself”, “Everything she does is magic”, “You are loved, little prince” and “Dream big, little one” adorn Willow the deer and her friends. What child doesn’t need this kind of positive messaging? All dolls are made from natural, premium cotton yarn which means they are cuddly and safe for the kids who end up using them.
The dolls are handcrafted by a team of more than 750 female artisans in Peru who are employed through sustainable, equitable and fair trade employment. Cuddle + kind ensure that working mothers have access to flexible hours which allows them to care for their families and plan for their futures, bringing meaningful change to their lives through sustainable income and security.
For the meal donations, where the purchase of one cuddle + kind doll equals ten meals, cuddle + kind work with leading organizations such as the United Nations World Food Programme USA’s School Meals Program, Children’s Hunger Fund, Breakfast Club Canada, We Charity School Nutrition Program. Cuddle + kind recognize that children having food at school is one of the critical aspects that allows them to flourish and reach their full potential. In total, from launch in September 2015 to the end of December 2018, cuddle + kind have donated more than 7.4 million meals to children in 65 countries across the world.
Not only that, some of these partnerships extend beyond meals, supporting school garden programs, food security improvement and education, and take home boxes of food for families.
“For us, fair trade is a commitment to a different way of doing business. It’s about putting the principles of fairness and decency before profits.”
Another aspect I love (and this list is getting seriously long) is the diversity of kids in cuddle + kind’s marketing.It’s really important to me that children and adults alike are like are represented equitably across brands and I love that cuddle + kind show so many beautiful kids – inclusion is key, even from such a young age.
The story of this fantastic, ethical business is so genuine, which is something that emanates through their work and activities. One family realized the impact they could have, started with a great business model and work with great partners to achieve goals. They are teaching their own kids about the importance of kindness and how individuals can have a huge impact.
“Our whole family is passionate about what we’re doing and loves every doll we make. We sincerely hope you will too.”
Cuddle + kind shows the how positive impact can be had a multiple stages of an idea and how much ethical, transparent and sustainable businesses can truly achieve through their work.
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Sarah has spent a decade working for social change, leading international projects and teams in Australia, Asia and the Americas. She is a Rotary Global Grant Scholar, has been guest speaker at the United Nations and was awarded International Young Woman of the Year in 2018 for her work in global peace-building.