Meet BANGS shoes, a company that combines fashion and humanitarianism. Founder Hannah Davis created the company as an international social enterprise focused on promoting the movement of powerful causes. When you buy a pair of BANGS, “wherever you stand, you stand on issues.”
Davis spoke at the Biobehavioral Health Building on Wednesday as a part of her six-week tour visiting twenty-four universities. The goal is to inspire students to take action and make the world a better place.
The 25-year-old Clemson graduate never planned on becoming an entrepreneur, but that’s exactly what she is today. She knew that she wanted her job to have an impact, but didn’t know what it was going to be. There was not a single defining moment in which Davis knew exactly what her future had in store, but a series of events culminated in the creation of BANGS in 2010.
While teaching English in Jiangsu Province of China, one of her friends bought a pair of these olive green army-style shoes from an army surplus store and told her that they were a symbol of the working class. The shoes were by no means a fashion statement in China, but she began seeing them everywhere on farmers and workers.
Davis wore the shoes around for months before coming to the realization that she could connect the shoes with a greater meaning, and that there was nothing like them in the U.S. It wasn’t until her teaching contract in China was completed that she thought, That’s how I can make a career about social giveback.
The outcome of that connection was BANGS, a company that donates twenty percent of net profits from each pair of shoes into nonprofit partner organizations – including Drop in the Bucket, SOUL Foundation, Global DIRT, Kiva, CHOICE Humanitarian and Springboard Collaborative. Each of these non-profit organizations focuses on sustainable methods of change. BANGS shoes come in several colors and each different color represents a different cause. The name of the company is derived from the Chinese character spelled b-a-n-g- that means help.
She explained that when it comes to non-profits, there are two kinds. The first type gives resources and the second type works with communities to create change. She wanted to focus her company on making change, because though it takes longer, it has more of an impact in the long run.
“BANGS chooses nonprofit partners with one vital requirement: a focus on change, not charity,“ says Davis.
BANGS mission is to invest in nonprofit partners who make partnership and education their main priorities. A focus on these priorities works to reduce and eliminate the need for future external aid, unlike charities that provide a short-term fix.
“In other words, BANGS believes in teaching a man to fish, not giving a man a fish,“ says Davis. BANGS reminds consumers that the best change is not an easy, short-term solution but is seen through the power of sustainable change.
“I think it’s a very innovative approach to helping important causes related to sustainable development,” says sophomore Community Environment Development major Kayla Susko who attended the event.
Students interested in being a BANGS Ambassador on campus have the opportunity to wear the shoes and represent the brand that is dedicated to sustainable change through retail. Simply follow Bangs on Facebook and fill out an application or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Photo by Jessi Korch