Move Over Amazon, Brightly Is Doing it Right
Shop sustainable brands that put their mission before their bottom lines at Brightly. With Brightly, you can shop your values and ensure that the products you buy are sustainably produced and working toward the greater good.
Sometimes you don’t realize that each job in your career path is a well-positioned stepping stone paving the way to your passions. And, sometimes you do. When Laura Alexander Wittig, founder of Brightly, began working at Amazon in web development and fashion marketing, she was tasked with picking the best fashion products available and getting them into the hands of existing Amazon customers. Little did she know that it was a seed planted for her to eventually found Brightly and that her time spent becoming a student of the marketplace and understanding the economics of consumer behavior would be invaluable down the road.
A move to California created a career shift when she was hired by another tech powerhouse and took a position with Google. Her job at Google got her focusing on social impact and sustainability when she found herself doing query development that directed people in need to organizations that could help them. Wittig found herself at a point of connection, saying, “you need help, so let me help send you to the best destination possible.”
Focusing on search terms relating to human trafficking and sexual assault, she developed a better understanding of social impact issues and a strong empathy as she connected those in need to support services, crisis hotlines and NGOs (non-government organizations) that could best help them. And, while doing all of this, she began delving into designing a better messenger bag for women. One that was sustainably crafted using ethical fair-trade materials.
As she made her way through the design process of her bag, the Kennebecker, she began connecting with other designers and small business owners who were making their products and developing their brands in the same way that she was. She became enamored with their individual stories and their reasons behind choosing to do things the way they were, and it was here that she realized that her acquired skill set put her in a unique position to help them amplify their products and their collective mission through Brightly.
Brightly is a true melding of skill and passion. It is a way to connect people through a single destination to the best products available. The brands and products offered through Brightly are sustainably made, provide dignified work to artisans, and give back to bigger missions through supporting social justice causes, from clean water initiatives to animal conservation.
“I really care about the way things are made and why this matters to our world,” says Wittig.
Through Brightly, she seeks to create one centralized destination for sustainable goods. Using her background in technology, social impact and fashion, she is attracting like-minded brands to Brightly where she can showcase their products in a beautiful way, create a community where brands and consumers can engage and learn from one another, and use the power of the dollar to support brands that are doing things to make a difference in the world.
As all founders should, Wittig has big dreams for where she sees Brightly headed for in the future. She envisions it becoming a new version of Amazon; a centralized destination where consumers head when they think about shopping. If a buyer is in the market for a new piece of art for their home or a beautiful piece of clothing to add to their wardrobe, they’ll head to Brightly.
She can anticipate a moment where people come to know the Brightly name and shop there because they can trust that their purchase will make a positive impact. And, if the company can reach that scale, she thinks it would be amazing to have a ‘Brightly effect’, where new businesses start the right way, experience sales and growth, which in turn yields excitement and continued growth.
“That’s my North Star,” says Wittig. “And, I think we are absolutely positioned to do that and that’s what keeps me going.”
As with any startup, the main challenge facing Brightly is growth. Right now the company is placing a heavy emphasis on getting in front of people and helping the brand get exposure. They’re focusing on finding the appropriate audience for their marketplace and developing a social media presence. Wittig has been doing in-person popup events throughout LA and the Bay area to get the word out.
Brightly is open for business and is in a stage where they are hustling sales and working on word-of-mouth marketing. Wittig is inspired by customers who are sending sweet notes of encouragement and sharing that they feel strongly about what Brightly is building. She can see the impact that creating a socially conscious business is already having on customers. One of her favorite stories comes from a bride who had purchased a pair of earrings on Brightly for her wedding. The customer reached out to Wittig when she was trying to track the package and make sure it would arrive on time.
“I was floored and honored that she would come to Brightly for her big day. As a new company, earning trust with our customers is our number one priority and we were thrilled to be a part of her wedding journey,” said Wittig.
And, Brightly was able to sort it all out. Wittig got in touch with the brand, who located the package and got the earrings to the customer ASAP. These stories and customers’ willingness to extend trust to Brightly are exciting early signals to her.
Wittig followed those stepping stones, learning along the way, until she reached a place where she felt a deep passion. She had a true understanding of why she was doing what she was doing with Brightly. As most things in life aren’t easy, Wittig knew that it’s often a rough road when you’re getting started. When she chose to start Brightly with ethical and sustainable business practices, she knew she and the Brightly brands would be competing with cheaply made products with cheaper price points and that those producers have bigger margins and more flexible bottom lines.
But, she feels that when you dig deep and truly understand your reasons for why you’re doing what you’re doing, you can put your mission statement into words that you can then use to connect to your customers. It is from this point that you can really share a passion, build a strong principled brand, and help it grow and evolve.
Be a conscious consumer. When you are in the market for something new, shop where you can make a difference. Buy from brands who both care about how their products are crafted and who are dedicated to giving back. Join the Brightly collective, become part of the community, sign up for the email newsletter, and be a part of the team to help beta test the site. Your feedback is invaluable. And, if you’re the founder of a sustainable brand, come sell with Brightly.