I write words for the greater good. It’s even the tag line for my business.
And as obsessed as I am with words, I have an almost equal obsession with artfully captured images.
Which is how I stumbled across the Instagram account of an eco-friendly stationery social enterprise called Words With Heart.
Perfect timing as I was in the market for business cards.
Naturally I started following Words With Heart on Instagram and sent the team an email not only to begin the process of having my business cards printed, but to arrange an interview with Lauren Shuttleworth its founder.
I was thrilled to receive an email response the next day from Lauren herself, and we arranged to chat by phone several days later.
Now “inspiring” is a word that I think is at the risk of becoming meaningless in our society. It is becoming overly used much like the words “amazing” (I want more detail, how is he/she/it amazing?) “sustainable” (certified organic? carbon offset? how exactly?) and dare I say, “wellness” (if Nestle describes themselves as a wellness brand, we have major problems) it seems everyone and his dog is inspiring.
But after speaking with Lauren, I can tell you that she is indeed inspiring. Not in the mushy feel-good BS kind of way; more so in the tangible, no-nonsense, count-the-achievements sort of way.
“I launched Words With Heart after a 3 month volunteer trip,” Lauren excitedly explains on the phone. “I had volunteered at a school in Kenya. Spending time over there is what really opened up my eyes to the challenges girls faced in trying to get an education.”
Lauren recounted meeting a bright little girl named Esther who said that she wanted to become a doctor. However Lauren soon learned that Esther’s orphanage could not pay for her to continue school and so Lauren paid for Esther’s education for the year. But she was left wondering: What would happen to Esther the following year? What about all the other girls whose families can’t afford to send them to school? It was this experience that would later come to define the direction that Lauren and Words With Heart would ultimately take.
Words are powerful, but actions are more powerful.
Returning to Australia, Lauren decided that notebooks would make the perfect product for not only could producing and selling eco-friendly versions help to reduce environmental impact, but she could also donate parts of the profits to fund girls’ education.
Lauren applied to the School of Social Entrepreneurs to learn how to successfully build a social enterprise. In 2014 she launched a crowdfunding campaign as part of the ING Dreamstarter initiative and was able to reach her campaign target of $15,000 (she came in at just under $20,000).
Armed with enough money to pursue her revolutionary idea, Lauren started Words With Heart creating a range of beautifully designed notebooks with empowering messages on the covers.
When customers started enquiring about other printables, Lauren realised there was a need for more than just notebooks. Responding to the market, Lauren revised her business offerings to include custom business cards, notepads, cards, wedding invites and much more.
Lauren’s stationery and printery social enterprise is unlike any other on the Australian market. Not only does she make sustainability a high priority, using 100% post consumer recycled paper, vegie-based inks, but the printing is also done locally in Caloundra, a suburb on the Sunshine Coast. In addition, the business donates 50% of its profits to two incredible Australian charity partners, CARE Australia and One Girl.
So far, Words With Heart has funded education projects in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, business training and scholarships.
While creating “lovely” stationery that gives back to the community is important to Lauren, so to is ensuring that prices are “competitive”. So I asked for a quote and it came to a reasonable $110 for a minimum of 250 cards including GST and shipping. I put my order in and Lauren assured me that my purchase would fund “4 weeks of education for women and girls in the developing world”. The best purchase I’ve made by far this year.
Not just a dreamer but a do-gooder.
Since launching the business in September 2014, Lauren has been able to achieve a full-time income, hire contract designers and a team of dedicated interns, create new custom product lines, won a Kick Starter social enterprise grant with Macquarie Group in 2015 and is in the process of negotiating a supply deal with a large Australian retailer.
The world is full of dreamers, those with great ideas who say they’re gonna. And while coming up with an idea and envisioning what you want is necessary, most successful business owners will tell you that the most crucial element to success is execution. In fact, when I asked Lauren to share one piece of advice for other entrepreneurs, her advice was in a similar vein: “Just start. Don’t worry about being perfect and knowing everything. If it doesn’t work, you can always pivot and go back. But it’s important to start.”
Curious to know about her mission for Words With Heart, I pressed her for the details and without hesitation Lauren responded: “Our main goal is to fund 1 million education days for women and girls in the developing world by the end of 2017.” She’s definitely a big dreamer.
But if Lauren’s achievements are anything to go by, I have every belief that she has what it takes to not only accomplish this particular goal, but any others she sets for herself.
To purchase empowering notebooks (like those pictured in this post) or to order your custom stationery or business cards, make sure to head to the Words With Heart website here.
We love discovering go-gooders and game-changers. Have you spoken with anyone recently who really does fit into the “inspiring” and “inspirational” categories? Let us know by leaving a comment.
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