As I paused for a rare moment over the weekend to consider this year’s Christmas shopping list (smellies for Mum, bottle of whiskey for Uncle George – OK, I didn’t think about it too hard), I couldn’t help but reflect on what giving has come to mean to me.
I originally founded Pala because I wanted to create something that would give me a sense of purpose. But above and beyond that, I wanted whatever I did to have a positive impact on the lives of others.
And so Pala was born – a luxury eyewear brand that supports Vision Aid Overseas projects with every purchase. And while I’m hugely motivated by the challenge of building a business from the ground up, what I love most about Pala is how giving back has become part of our DNA.
Having visited the projects that we support in Ethiopia and Zambia and met some of the people benefitting from them, I’ve witnessed first-hand the impact that contributions like ours have on their lives.
I’ve discovered that giving is about much more than a pile of presents under a tree (though my daughter might disagree!). For me, it no longer means only giving at the obvious times, or because I’m overcome with sudden generosity. Instead, I’ve learned that it means weaving the act of giving into everything we do, every day.
It means staying focused on the end goal. The more successful the business becomes, the greater access to eye health care we can provide to those who need it. It also allows us to dream up more ways to collaborate with the weaving communities we rely on for our glasses cases. Pretty compelling reasons to show up each day, I think.
Of course, it’s not feasible for everyone to approach giving in the same way I’ve chosen to. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to support it.
Whatever makes it on to your own Christmas gift lists this year, I urge you to seek out and buy from retailers who give back in some way. Pala operates a ‘buy one, give one’ model, but many other retailers donate a percentage of sales or profits, or bring out limited edition products for Christmas that directly support charitable causes. And there are enough ethical retailers operating now, to ensure that you can draw up a far more original Christmas gift list than me.
However you choose to show your support, remember that giving’s not just for Christmas.