Support Women Makers Through Intentional Gift Giving
One for Women is your one-stop-shop for gifting a unique and thoughtful gift set hand-crafted by female artisans
When Meg Wheeler encountered a close friend who was experiencing multiple bad days, she wanted to send a gesture to help turn her bad luck around. So she forked over $85 to send her friend flowers and at the same time wondered why it had to cost so much. The flowers made her friend’s day and it was exactly what she needed. Making a difference for her friend in turn really made an impact on Wheeler. An idea was stirring for her, but she didn’t act on it until a couple years later when her boss decided to change her current position into something she wasn’t excited to take on.
“I took it as a sign, a kick in the rear end, that I wasn’t meant for that job. So I put in my notice and didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew that I had been unhappy for quite some time,” she says. “So I went home and all of a sudden those words came back to me: empowering and connecting women through gestures.” She remembered back to the time she made a difference for her friend through gift giving. Was there a way she could inspire women to send something to their close network that somehow makes a difference, and ultimately a bigger impact? The idea for Wheeler’s company, One for Women, started that simply.
One for Women is an online gifting community offering curated gift sets that all come from women makers. In addition, a portion of all proceeds goes back to women’s nonprofit organizations. The goal for One for Women is to empower and connect women through intentional, impactful gift giving, increase the market exposure for women makers and tell their stories. Ultimately, the mission comes down to one small gesture can make one big impact.
Wheeler left her job on Nov. 17, incorporated her business two days later and sketched out a vision for what she wanted her company to look like. “I had six months of financial runway, and I knew enough to throw together a website but I had no clue what I was doing,” she says.
Figuring out the why behind her mission, though, was easy. “Really we have two big goals,” Wheeler says. “One we want to connect women through intentional gift giving. Both the gift givers and recipients benefit from our model. And two, we want to help women in business.” Women in business are doing amazing things around the world, but only 3 percent of all startup funding goes to women-owned companies. Wheeler says that’s a huge problem. “We need to help these women get ahead. We need more of their voices in business and little girls need to see women as CEOs and successful entrepreneurs.”
So the way One for Women works is that prior to a purchase, Wheeler carefully vets an item from a woman maker and researches the overall production: Is the item crafted well? How is the experience of buying? Is the shipping seamless? Once an item passes her inspection, it’s added to the One for Women website where a gift giver can browse through curated items and purchase something for a loved one. From there, Wheeler includes a handwritten note to the recipient as well as a card that outlines the story of the maker behind the item. Special attention is given to the packaging and presentation of the gift. The website also includes links to the maker’s social media so that interested buyers can learn more about their other products.
“We want our recipients to fall in love with these brands and become lifelong customers. It’s critically important for the maker to benefit from that,” she says. “I picture this as a circle of giving.”
What makes the business model so successful for Wheeler is that studies show gift giving often benefits the giver more than it does the recipient. A 2008 study gave participants money and asked half to spend it on themselves and the other half to give it to a person or charity. There was a significant uptick in happiness for those who donated the money. And in the 2014 book called The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose, the authors concluded, “the more generous Americans are, the more happiness, health and purpose in life they enjoy. This association is strong and highly consistent. Generous practices actually create enhanced personal well being.”
Wheeler says she has seen the benefits first-hand just from mastering the art of gift giving among her friends. “It helps us feel connected by giving,” she says. “When a friend tells me how much she loved it or that she hadn’t heard of that company it makes me very happy. It brought us closer, connected her to a cool new woman maker and for me, it was almost better than getting a gift myself. That’s what One for Women does.”
Plus, Wheeler sees One for Women having a larger connection to the overall movement of people supporting women and behaving in more ethical, kind and transparent ways. “One for Women can help us to keep bringing this conversation forward. By creating a strong network for women supporters, we can create a community where women feel comfortable telling their stories and to be heard. And we can do some good along the way.”
Although Wheeler does not envision One for Women becoming as large as retailer giant, Amazon, she does want to create a space where the mission of connecting women is always at the forefront.
“It’s the surprise and delight factor,” she says. “If I know a gift is going to surprise a friend, in turn she’s going to be better at her job, a better mentor and role model for girls out there. And she’s going to remember how much it meant to her and how she can pay it forward for someone else.”
Ultimately, that ripple effect of kindness is what keeps Wheeler committed to her mission. “Creating this feeling of goodwill does connect all of us. We become more compassionate people. We rise up when we help women around us rise up. By helping others, we are helping our world and ourselves.”
To browse the online selection of curated gifts passionately crafted by women makers, shop One for Women. And sign up for the One for Women newsletter to receive updates on new gifts and special promotions.