“What will I contribute?” is a question many ask themselves, and alumna Ashely Howell, MBA ’13, has been working on the answer most of her life. Her undergraduate studies in public policy, and peace and conflict at USC showed her a significant cause of world conflict – the inequitable allocation of economic resources.
“If you teach people early about how to support the lives they want to live, you can hopefully stop future conflict,” Howell concluded, and she began searching for ways to help. This objective led to an interest in social entrepreneurship, to Santa Clara University, and—in March—to the launch of Givve, an online marketplace exclusively for charitable fashion products.
Givve is “a place for people to mindfully shop.”
Inspired by her childhood fascination with her mother’s Vogue magazines and the frequent volunteer work she did, Howell combined two of her passions – fashion and charity—by developing a showcase for high-fashion designers and products that give part, or all, of the proceeds to charity. “I look for brands that partner with charities when I shop,” says Howell. “I was sure there are more people out there like me, but there was no site that focused solely on those partnerships. That is Givve’s niche: a place for people to mindfully shop.”
Her Santa Clara University MBA program was integral in the development of Givve, says Howell. Getting to know local executives and SCU alumni through the School’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship while being mentored by business school faculty prompted her to pursue Givve as her thesis project. Under the guidance of Kirthi Kalyanam, professor of marketing and director of the Retail Management Institute, she turned her idea into a viable project and began pulling together partners from fashion and technology to develop the Givve website (www.shopgivve.com)
Givve’s first partner was ONE.org – the international non-profit fighting poverty and disease, and within three weeks of launch, high-end designers were requesting to be featured on the site. “We want to highlight our designers’ and users’ passions,” Ashley said. “We do this by featuring a breadth of charities and products.”
Currently working for a large defense contractor, Ashley considers herself a tech person with fashion interests. She sees the convergence of tech and fashion growing, and is happy to be a part of it.
Working towards that culture of “Givving” – that of conscientious purchasing – she is answering the question she has asked herself for so long. “Rather than having people say ‘What will I buy today?’, I want people to say ‘What will I Givve today?’ ” says Howell.