By Nelli Kim
When I think back to the reason I first started RĒDEN, the biggest one was seeking a sense of purpose and meaning in my work. After volunteering on a mission trip to India in 2014 and working with incredible non-profits supporting survivors of human trafficking, I thought what if I could build a company where generosity is built into the business model, and I get to support my favorite charities along the way?
So began a five-year journey towards purpose-driven entrepreneurship, leaving Bergdorf Goodman, and a “DIY” M.B.A. with stints at Anthropologie, Caleres and Shopbop to learn about vertical retail, shoe manufacturing, wholesale, and e-commerce. In 2016, a stage 3C / 4 ovarian cancer diagnosis with a 30% chance of long-term survival put a wrench in my plans, but also led me to finding my purpose. I learned firsthand that chemo causes foot pain and understood that there were no shoe options for elegant AND comfortable shoes that I would want to wear.
And so it goes, we often find our purpose and the specific problems we are meant to solve in our lifetime because of our circumstances and difficulties. We can choose to find meaning and purpose in our suffering.
I believe there is power in story and learning from the examples of others. In hearing other’s personal stories, we often see ourselves in them and learn that there is more that unites us than separates us. This is the inaugural interview of a Purpose-Driven Entrepreneur Series we’re starting at RĒDEN to share those stories and hopefully inspire others to find their purpose.
I sat down with my friend and model / neuroscientist Carolyn Li Ming Geh from Li Organics. While we may not be able to relate to being a model / neuroscientist, we can all relate to having bad skin days and skin issues. Li started Li Organics to provide a solution to others who were suffering from skin sensitivities like her. Li Organics is a clean skincare company that integrates ancient Southeast Asian beauty practices and traditional methods from her home country of Malaysia. Their ingredients go beyond clean. For every purchase made, Li Organics donates 10% of profits to Project Orphans, a non-profit that helps vulnerable children and families overcome poverty and injustice. Join us as we face mask and talk about entrepreneurship, listening to the universe, how she got her first 1000 Instagram followers, and what gives Li purpose.