Helping Yourself, Helping Others

Posted on 13 July 2016

Audrey Hepburn Quote for S&I
Last year at this time, I was unemployed and pondering my next career move. I had recently been laid off from the startup that I had worked at for close to three years, as they leaned out the team from five employees to two.

Sitting in conference room after conference room with their tan walls and swivel chairs, speaking to HR managers about how my experience at my last job could benefit their company was, to say the least, soul crushing. I wanted to get excited about their company. To believe that the work that I would be doing would culminate into something bigger that I cared about.

After realizing that I was dreading getting a call back from these companies, it hit me that I should just start my own company. Becoming an entrepreneur was on my bucket list, why wait?

My love of animals has always been my guide. I feel the most joy and the most drive when the task at hand is advocating and helping animals. And with this realization, I knew my path.

On a blazing hot day at the Outer Banks, I sat next to Sapna O’Connell, my college roommate, best friend, and one of the most talented fashion designers (in my very biased opinion) and showed her my favorite purple paisley headband. She knew it well. I wore it quite often. Our toes in the sand, I asked her if she wanted to go into business with me. We’d sell fun uber-comfortable print headbands and donate as much as we could to animal-related NGOs.

Starling & Ivy was born when she said yes. After analyzing my headband and sewing one for herself, Sapna finally understood why I wore my headband so much--seriously comfortable. On November 9th, 2015, we launched our online store, and donated $1 of each item sold to Best Friends that Christmas.

In early January 2016, we officially became partners with The Humane League, and we are so proud to donate 15% of our proceeds each quarter to such a dedicated team of animal advocates who make positive change for farm animals. Each time you purchase from Starling & Ivy, you are giving to a charity that is repeatedly on top of Animal Charity Evaluator’s list.

Our intense empathy for animals and the realization that giving up leather is really, really hard is what pushed us to expand our business from organic cotton hair accessories to vegan bags.

If you ask Sapna and me, we’d both agree that giving up our beloved leather goods was the biggest hurdle in our vegan journey. Especially when it’s all you know and the leather alternatives aren’t your style. I’m looking at you pleather and nylon.

So when Sapna said, let’s design feminine beautiful, functional purses and solve this dilemma, I knew she would be the designer that could.

She didn’t disappoint. Though you can decide for yourself, by checking out our line of purses.

We wanted our bags to not only be cruelty-free but also eco-friendly. With Waxed Canvas, which is waterproofed cotton, you get both. Plus, like leather, it is pliable and breaks in with use. I love that; my Coffee Bean crossbody bag fits so comfortably on me. I couldn’t imagine a better bag, and it feels so good when we get another 5-star review.

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of the idea of Starling & Ivy being put out into the world, this Audrey Hepburn thought encompasses what motivates us each day. Doing good isn’t just part of Starling & Ivy’s mission, it’s the whole reason we do what we do! We want to make products that better and beautify the world. And we couldn’t do it without you, Starlings, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your love and support.

Alana + Sapna, the S&I team

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