After surviving a life-threatening illness, former Reebok designer Todd Saggese quit his day job, and along with lifelong friend T.J. Ennion, launched a lifestyle brand founded on two principles: that it is our job to live each day to the fullest, while at the same time helping others to do the same. Thus Nine Five Ltd. (Ltd. stands for “Live This Day”) was born. As part of its mission, the company partners with dozens of charities to “Put a Lid” on issues from addiction to climate change to poverty and everything in between. Buyers choose the cause, and the company donates 20 percent of the proceeds.
After meeting Todd at our recent New England market, we asked him to help curate this year’s list of gifts that give back.
Sackcloth & Ashes
In 2013, the issue of homelessness became personal to Bob Dalton, when his single mother found herself living on the streets. Hoping to make a difference in the lives of the homeless population, he called shelters and asked what they needed most. They all requested blankets. And thus Sackcloth & Ashes was born. For every blanket you purchase, the company donates another to the homeless.
Above: Sackcloth & Ashes Tribal Blanket in Burgundy is made from a medium-weight wool blend; on sale for $79.
Founded by Lauren Bush Lauren, Feed makes products that seek to break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition in developing nations. Made by local artisans in the communities that the company supports, each Feed bag is marked with a number, signifying the number of school lunches your purchase provided.
Above: A single Feed Voyager Carryall, available with a base in Charcoal Gray, Vintage Blue, or Farmhouse Red, provides 25 meals for children overseas; $50.
Founded by Hannah Davis, Bangs (from the Chinese character for “help”) supports local communities and economies in the United States and around the world by investing 20 percent of net profits in small businesses.
Above: “Helping people help themselves,” Bangs Shoes, shown in London Fog, supports entrepreneurs throughout the world; $60.
One Hope Winery
Located in Napa Valley, One Hope Winery creates award-winning wines that give back. From social, health, and environmental causes, each variety is paired with a specific charity, so you can tailor your selection not only to your taste but also to the cause closest to your heart.
Above: One Hope Wine Best of California Mixed Pack; $89.
Local & Liejos
Traditional crafts at affordable prices: Local & Liejos supports local artisans from around the world by paying fair wages and helping members of the community to develop sustainable skills.
Above: Made by women in Oaxaca, Mexico, each Local & Liejos Tazon Bowl sold provides food for a week for the artisan’s family; $28.
In response to what they saw as a throw-away culture, three MIT students founded a company “rooted in sustainability.” The company’s Sprout pencils, its first product, are made with sustainably harvested wood with clay/graphite “leads.” But the best past is the end, which contains non-GMO, pesticide-free seeds. So when your pencil is used up, simply plant it! Colored and regular Sprout Pencils come in a variety of flowers, herbs, and veggies.
Above: Don’t forget the stocking stuffers. Once you’re done using your Colored Pencils from Sprout, simply plant them and grow your own fresh herbs and flowers; $18.95.
Ever lost an expensive pair of glasses? For one group of friends, the experience of having to go without while they saved up for another pair caused them to start a company with a simple mission: socially conscious, designer eyewear (including sunglasses and optical lenses) at affordable prices. By working with nonprofits such as VisionSpring, Warby Parker ensures that for every pair of glasses sold, another gets donated to the more than 15 billion people worldwide who lack proper eyewear.
Above: Warby Parker Sunglasses in Barkley; from $95.
Nine Five Ltd.
Caps for a Cause: Nine Five Ltd.‘s hats help put a lid on problems from poverty and social justice to climate change. You choose the hat and the charitable cause, and Nine Five donates 20 percent of the proceeds.
Above: The Mystic comes in black and gray; $25.