Interview Audio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3lzKZBJG4o
Every great entrepreneurial triumph starts off with an inspiring and unlikely story of how a person’s dream turned into a reality that ends up changing lives of thousands, or even millions. Although Hannah Davis’ story with BANGS Shoes is still in progress, her start has all of the makings of an intriguing and impactful journey that is making a positive difference. Through perseverance, passion, and hard work, Hannah has taken a serendipitous experience in China, and has brought that vision to life in North America. Although the idea was conceptualized in early 2010, the first paid of BANGS took several years of hard work.
Hannah Davis is founder and CEO of BANGS Shoes. BANGS Shoes is a social enterprise that has turned a common Chinese military-style shoe into a fashionable, philanthropic endeavor. BANGS donates a portion of the profits from each pair of their shoes they sell to a nonprofit partner based on the type of shoe. BANGS currently has 6 colors of shoes, each with a different nonprofit partner and philanthropic focus. The current six causes and their nonprofit partners are:
- Education: Springboard Collaborative
- Disaster Aid: Global D.I.R.T.
- Ending Hunger: CHOICE
- Clean Water: Drop in the Bucket
- Financial Empowerment: KIVA
- Development: S.O.U.L. Foundation
Making BANGS Shoes a Reality
In response to the question “What had to happen to make BANGS a reality,” Hannah gave three challenges that had to be overcome, two of which have been accomplished, the third BANGS is still working on.
#1. Making the shoes. Figure out how to mass manufacture the shoe and import into the United States from China. This was a two year process.
#2. Find nonprofit partners. “The biggest part of the BANGS mission is to partner with organizations that focus on sustainable development…many amazing causes all around the world, and we have 6 colors of shoes. How do you pick 6 organizations out of all of the amazing ones?”
#3. Engaging with consumers. “At the end of the day, BANGS can’t be a successful humanitarian aid to anybody unless we’re selling shoes.” This is still a work in progress.
Hannah will be speaking at the 2013 CEO National Conference in Chicago, October 31 – November 2. Her talk will be about overcoming obstacles, which she has had to do in various ways since starting BANGS – from learning the laws and ins and outs of importing and exporting, to marketing and sales. Hannah credits BANGS to surrounding herself with a strong team and persevering through obstacles.
Q: How can a young entrepreneur know if they should keep sticking with their business idea and dream or change their focus to a new business idea or job?
A: “If you’re even considering not doing it…that’s it. If you don’t believe in it, no one else is going to.”
After coming up with the idea, Hannah never looked back and was able to accomplish her dreams by following her passion and having an unmatched level of determination.
- How BANGS Shoes went from an idea to a reality.
- Have you always been entrepreneurial? “I would have to say no. I have a political science degree and a minor in Mandarin. My passion resides in the possibility to make a positive difference, and my path has led me to use a business plan in that capacity.”
- “My business background has been the past three years of trial and error.”
- Why she feels supporting young entrepreneurs is important.
- Advice to young entrepreneurs: “Just don’t stop.”
Fun Fact Questions
Something you collected as a kid? Salt and pepper shakers.
Favorite thing to do to relax? Yoga.
Favorite musician? “I Love 90’s rock….Blues Traveler, Bare Naked Ladies.”
If you could have one entrepreneur in the world join your team at BANGS, who would it be and why? Steve Jobs. He was the master of simplifying a task at hand.