If you had the chance to change our world, what would you do? Would you take it upon yourself to initiate the change that the world truly needs? Serial entrepreneur Dale Partridge, 28, found a way to do just that.
As the CEO of the Southern California-based organic funding movement Sevenly, Partridge figured out how to blend purpose and profit. He has dedicated his career to enriching and helping others live more amply, as well as reminding the world that "people matter.”
His leadership skills stem from his childhood, being eight years old on the pitching mound and having to understand the characteristics of being in charge, controlling the game, the pace, the tempo, and the culture of the moment. Currently, he is even writing a book titled People Over Profit, which will be published sometime next year.
Getting on board this journey with just $30,000 of startup capital, Sevenly has grown exponentially, generating revenue in the millions. In 2012 alone, it generated $1.3 million in charitable donations, which equaled 27.6 percent of their overall revenue.
Sevenly, whose name is derived from a play off the word “heavenly” combined with the numeral 7, which Biblically represents the number of completion, has a simple, but extremely efficient mission: to raise capital and awareness for the world’s greatest causes.
Every week, they show their support and rally for a new cause on their website, selling T-shirts to raise money for charity. For every T-shirt they sell, $7 goes directly to the coinciding charity being featured. Sevenly teamed up with Sweet Nectar Society for this week’s campaign, which will provide lasting memorable photographs to parents of a child with a serious illness.
Generally, what immediately comes to mind for most people when they contemplate world change, are substantial issues such as ending wars, riots, and poverty, or finding the cure for cancer and autism. In one corner of the world a little girl just found out she has terminal cancer, while across the Atlantic Ocean societies are facing hunger, poverty, and economic and social collapse.
There are a million charities out there supporting these issues that you have probably never even heard of. These charities often go out of business, either because of a lack of awareness or lack of funding. Sevenly is empowering these charities, offering them a place to share their cause every week. By engaging with those who are called to the issue, Sevenly provides funding to support them in their efforts.
When they first started out, TOMS shoes was pretty much the only company out there doing something similar in the social good world, which motivated Partridge to “create an organization to serve people in a way that didn’t remain stagnant” but instead, “helped reach world change on a massive level.” In just two years, Sevenly has donated more than $2 million to charity and the business has evolved tremendously; always looking for ways to honor people in the way they need to be honored.
The first step was learning to shine the light inward, starting with its team of 50 employees. After all, you cannot give what you don’t have.
“When you start a company that says that they value people over profit, it has to start internally,” said Partridge. “If we are talking about generosity but we’re not generous to our own staff, that would become a problem. Sevenly provides an environment that really makes people believe that we have their best interests in mind before our own. Sevenly is not just a company, we are a family. The culture here is far stronger than any company I’ve ever had the opportunity of working with.”
In leading a generation towards generosity, Sevenly’s success has come not only from their ability to strategically execute business models, but also from the role they play in telling great stories. The company has been able to activate people to rally alongside of them and have gained their trust through design. Throughout Partridge's career, he realized that companies that put design on the back burner when trying to accomplish great things, tend to fail.
“Design is about more than just beauty. Design is efficient, it conveys proper communication,” explains Partridge. “Yes, we are building communities and raising money, but design is key. From the furniture in our office to the way we shoot an Instagram photo, to the titles we give employees and the correspondence we send out, intricate design is involved in every aspect of Sevenly.”
This cause-oriented company’s first tagline was going to be “Do Good,” but due to a legal trademark battle, Partridge ended up deciding on “People Matter,” which he says “is a hell of a lot harder to accomplish” because doing good is easier than valuing people. As a leader, the way he lives his life accurately reflects the brand’s mission.
“Our mission will forever be branded on my life. It does not mean that I am going to go and give all my money away. Instead, I am learning to understand the difference between needs and excess,” adds Partridge.
In the coming months, Sevenly plans on carrying products from Stussy, Stone and Cloth and a thousand various other brands, which will give them a competitive edge in the marketplace by taking less margins and giving them away. They already carry a variety of crafty and socially conscious goods such as gorjana & griffin and 31 Bits jewelry, which is made from 100 percent recycled paper by internally displaced women in Northern Uganda. To find out more about how this successful company using fashion and design to empower women to rise above poverty, you can go here.
“I envision us becoming the Mecca of where people go to buy common good exchange items. In August, we will also begin hosting a community-based event once a month to highlight how other people are changing the world in their own unique way,” said Community Outreach Coordinator for Sevenly, Danielle Arriola. “We want to give people the experience of connecting with like-minded individuals, as well as a place for people to come and be motivated, moved and inspired.”
Everyone has something they want to lend a hand to, to rally over or to take a stand for. But what is preventing them from taking initiative? Why don’t they become more involved? Many people seem to be hesitant about donating money to a cause they have never seen with their own eyes.
It is understandable that you cannot afford to buy something every week, but you can afford to share the causes that you believe in. You do not have to buy from Sevenly to contribute, just share. Donate a tweet or share their message on Facebook. The next generation does not have to be all about money. Money is easy to give, but time and influence are enough to move mountains. No matter how immense or minute, a change is a change.