02 Nov Meet: Good Deed Rags
Good Deed Rags is definitely one of Columbus’ hero organizations. Below you will find a Q&A with them, where you’ll learn what they do, why they do it, and the two seminal events that kickstarted the whole thing. And, you can read my notes at the very end as to why they are some of Columbus’ true heroes (and it’s not because they giveback to the community–although that’s amazing).
How did Good Deed Rags come to fruition?
“Gosh, I could spend forever on this one. So we spent much of the past 15 years working in the clothing business for some of the major retailers in Columbus. It has been by all measures a wonderful and amazing experience seeing brands come to life in both the physical and digital space. And, we have loved working with creative people from across the globe to bring products to life that we believed our customers would enjoy.
But, over the past several years, we felt the tug of business being all about getting more—getting more sales, getting more email addresses for our database, getting more out of our suppliers. We heard a message two years ago about using God-given talents to not only help ourselves but help others—the idea of taking what we are good at (whatever that might be) and in even a small way working to better the lives of others through our gifts. So that was the initial tug.”
How did the idea come to life?
“As the idea began to crystalize we wanted to exist to provide good shirts. We have been to so many community fundraisers or 5K runs where the quality of the shirt was below average and the design was uber specific to a certain event. Our belief was that consumers want a great fitting and feeling tee, but also aren’t looking to be a billboard for the organization their purchase went to support/the event they chose to participate in.
Don’t get us wrong though, we want people to be proud that they supported a local charity through an event or activity, but we wanted the message of the tee to inspire conversations and actions not just for a day, but for a lifetime.
If our tees each time they were worn could be a reminder to open the door for someone, or stop when you see someone on the side of the road with a flat tire, or to help a neighbor, then the value of the brand and the message were as important as the donation to the charity the purchase went to.
The tug also came from just utter admiration for all that our partner charities and foundations do for our community. Our motto is “To provide help to those that provide hope.” We aren’t an organization built, skilled, or staffed to solve many of the problems or needs of our community, but we want to be an avenue of helping those that do. When you start to hear the stories of those we support, it is humbling to see the selfless approach they take daily to their work. They are community servants and gems for our city.
Product transparency was also important to us in starting this brand. We spell out on our website where a customer’s $28 for a shirt will go…$10 to a partner charity, $10 is cost of goods (which includes local printing in Columbus), and $8 to Good Deed Rags. We believe consumers more and more today are not only looking for pricing transparency but also deserve it, particularly when committing to someone or something they know so little about.”
Why did Good Deed Rags come to life?
“Our kids. We have two children and we have the means to provide a good life for them. We want them to see that right around the corner, in our communities, not everyone shares the same blessings. That small acts and donations can and do make a difference.
That this can and WILL be a movement and a legacy that fail or flourish we can say we started and are proud of. We want being selfless to be a quality that comes naturally to our children and creating and living this brand are ways of reinforcing it.”
How does Good Deed Rags choose, or find charities to work with? Are there specific reasons for working with these certain charities?
“We prescribe to the “Find a need and meet it” model, but we also recognize that we can’t be everywhere or support everything. We want to support a diverse spectrum of need in our community—health and wellness, education, poverty, children, food and hunger. So, in approaching partners we focused on those that were a good representation of the broad needs in the community. We also, wanted to have some names recognizable to our customers, like The James or The Ronald McDonald House, but also use our platform as a chance to introduce the community to organizations they might not have otherwise heard of, like Jersey of Hope or Second and Seven.”
Do you have plans to add more options/more partnerships?
“In terms of future partnerships, we are always looking for partnerships that increment to the portfolio of partners and needs we are already servicing. We would love to explore more in the area of hunger, as this continues to be an enormous need in and around the city. We also want to expand partnerships with other like-minded businesses in our community on co-branded projects where the dual-muscle can do some serious good for our city!”
What created a passion for doing good and cultivating community inside you? Was it something innate you grew up with? Watching your parents? Or, did an event trigger your passion?
“This wasn’t something we grew-up watching and seeing. Not that our families weren’t generous, but socially and corporately it wasn’t about giving, in our childhood and early adult lives. A few years ago two things happened that really changed our perspective. One was we sponsored Christmas for a family that couldn’t afford to provide gifts for their family. We got the list and it was so simple and based on need, not want—so, clothes, a hairbrush, new shoes, etc. There was no mention of toys or wants, just the necessities in life that we knew we took for granted.
It was shortly after that that we heard a sermon through the church challenging us to do more for others. The church actually left under our chair in an envelope some money—all different amounts from $1 to $20.
They challenged us to just drive around and bless someone with it, specifically someone in need. They even went a step further and said, if we were willing, would we take off the shoes we wore that day and donate them.
Many people were upset asking, “why didn’t they tell us they wanted our shoes…I would have worn a crummy pair!” But, we realized that wasn’t the point. The shoes were stuff, and stuff we could part with. It made us realize a) we can be helping people and b) how can we utilize gifts and resources to help others.
Deep down we recognized our strength isn’t being one of the organizations we support, but being a supportive organization. We don’t want this organization to be about us, but about the idea of living good and those we raise donations for.”
Can you tell me more about the events you guys do? Are they events through the charities that you guys partner with, or is Good Deed Rags hosting them?
“At the moment the events we have done have been in support of our partner charities. We have designed specific t-shirts that we have produced and sold for some of our partners events and we have been proud to sponsor a handful of events as well. This has been a fun way to work with our partners on creating tee’s personal to them and their organization– versus the product we sell to the public on our site (which isn’t organization or need specific).
This fall we have two events we are proud of—one is the “Good Deed Greek Challenge” where 11 Ohio State Fraternities and Sororities agreed to participate and compete to see which organization could sell the most product on our site. The event runs until November 13th and the winner will get a custom designed tee where proceeds go to their national philanthropy AND their national philanthropy will be a permanent charity donation option on our website. We are also showing some new product in the BuckeyeThon Fall fashion show in November at the Ohio State Student Union.”
You launched in 2015, what has been the most rewarding part of the process?
“A few rewarding moments. One was when we donated tee’s to participants in the Red Shoe Run, a 5K benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. To see the spectrum of participants and to see the smiles on their faces when we congratulated them and handed them their tee was awesome. We felt validated and that we were starting to weave ourselves into the community. Additionally, any time we see a child wearing our product.
We have seen so many kids getting off of the school bus and it just brings us joy to know they are a) wearing something that shares a positive message and b) it went to an organization. This is rewarding beyond description.”
What challenges has the company overcome (if any)?
“Our biggest obstacles—we are still juggling full time jobs, until we can fully dedicate ourselves to Good Deed Rags. This raises the challenge of having funds and the time to dedicate to building our business. People knowing who the heck we are isn’t easy. We have relied on word of mouth and organic spreading, but as you know this doesn’t happen overnight, so this is a challenge. We also feel we launched with not the perfect fitting women’s tee. It was too tight and while it services some women, not enough women, so we have already supplemented the line with a new t-shirt shape.”
What does the design process look like? (Digital? Hand drawn? Etc)
“Both digital and hand drawn. We draw inspiration from phrases and words that mean something to our message and to a general approach to doing more for the community. Ultimately, we would love to find a way to make the shirts in Columbus. We design and print them here, but want to make them here…made by us and for us. ”
What does the future hold for Good Deed Rags?
“We would love to sponsor an event, but in the Good Deed Rags way. Like a GDR 5K that isn’t just a run, but a run with a purpose—stopping every half mile to pick up trash, or paint a fence. We are a tiny organization, so we recognize this will need to be done in partnership with others. We want to grow the number of ears who have heard of us and eyes that have seen us.
We want to make enhancements to our website so it evolves from mostly commerce to a media outlet of stories in our neighborhoods, communities, and schools of people doing good, from simple gestures to large investments.
We want to continue to introduce new products and remain focused on Columbus. We have been asked about supporting national charities but we want to insure our efforts and resources go to the area we call home.
We also have plans to introduce a tee right after this toxic election is over…”unity for good.” It reinforces united forever— a nation is what we should be, but also our local mission is uniting us with organizations and customers for good causes.”
Is there anything that’s not already on the website, or already posted on social media accounts— worth mentioning? Is there anything we could share to give a new insight for your followers, and other readers?
“We will have hoodies coming later in November, as well as re-stocking our best selling items. We will be offering gifting discounts during the Holidays, and some fun ideas for donations of inventory to those in need. I think the insight for our followers is to submit us your stories of those around you doing good. Send us pictures of needs in your community we could support, or send us ideas of how we can better serve our city (email@example.com).