Cameron Houser witnesses a lot of “A-ha!” moments.
When customers buy products from her company’s website, they ultimately realize they are positively and tangibly impacting the world through their purchases.
“You just see this spark from that person, and I love it,” Houser, co-founder and co-CEO of Given Goods Co., told MSNBC. “They live their values through the purchases.”
The Colorado-based Given Goods Co. is a marketplace of online retailers from around the world who sell products that “give back” to society in various ways. It was established last November through Houser’s love for conscious-consumer products that she could never find in stores.
The website features almost 1,000 products that range in prices from a $2 toothbrush to a $500 piece of furniture. Personal accessories and items for the home include Catherine’s Table linen napkins, Dolma Fair Trade placemats, Ark Collective backpacks, Hearts coin purses, and Connect in Hope scarves.
“They are just the most incredible people doing a very, very hard thing,” Houser said. “It is especially difficult to run a business when you are simultaneously running a non-profit structure within it.”
The products give back in different ways. For example, buying Usful Glassworks items provides job opportunities and vocational training for the under-served population of Boise, Idaho. Each Esperos purchase helps send one child in Haiti to school for a year.
Both vendors and consumers say they enjoy the website’s offerings in giving retailers a platform to sell their products and a single space for conscious consumers to buy items for personal use or gifts.
“When you present them with a place to buy the things they need to buy anyway—a wedding gift, a baby gift–they find so much more value from a purchase from Given Goods because you just get a little more,” said Houser, adding that she “will work with any company with a great product and a socially-impactful mission.”
Houser said she began Googling “to the ends of the Earth” to find companies that are making a difference, but now most retailers find her first.
“We believe very strongly that this type of buying is addictive,” she added, “and that we can provide the right service and the right atmosphere and the right amount of strength of experience–whether online or offline–to give people a fantastic experience every time.”
Given Goods Co. was chosen as one of five finalists in the Feast contest. Each innovator has received one ticket to the 2013 Feast Conference, which focuses on learning, health, and veterans. The organization with the most votes by Oct. 6 will receive a speaker spot at the three-day conference, which begins on Oct. 16 in New York City, for the chance to call participants to action.
Like what Given Goods Co. is doing? Show your support and vote here.