Name: Sarah Lin
Location: San Jose, California, U.S.
Industry: Children’s Goods & Services
Reason for starting? I’ve always dreamed about creating a product that married my love for good design and a social need. I was reaching a point in my career where I felt challenged to use my skills in a more meaningful way, and so I quit my full-time design job and proceeded to start EllieFunDay.
People always ask: “How did EllieFunDay start?” I’ve always dreamed about creating a product that would empower the economically disadvantaged. I also knew that it would have to be something I dearly loved. I came back to my baby blanket. It’s one of those stories where, whenever my mom washed it and hung it out to dry, I would stand outside by the clothesline grasping a corner of my blankie and wait till it was ready for me to reclaim as my own.
How do you define success? I always say that true empowerment means sustainability. That has to happen for the women that make our goods and for us as a business. If we can do both, then we have succeeded in building the right bridge in empowerment. A fair wage means a pathway out of economic poverty. We also believe that we are successful when our company can be an example of what a responsible corporation can be.
Biggest success: EllieFunDay products are carried in over 100 stores worldwide including Barneys NYC and Nordstroms. Our products have been featured in various media outlets including Martha Stewart Living, Inhabitots and Earnshaws. Eva Chen, the former Lucky Magazine editor, and various other influencers have loved our products for their little ones.
We hope to get ourselves to a point where we can prove our market validation and then scale to more non-profits that empower marginalized women through handicrafts. We have a grand vision to build a company that inspires wonder in children, while employing the marginalized with a fair wage and economic freedom.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? When working with women who have limited skills sets and abusive pasts, we need to be mindful of our expectations of them. So keeping our quality control has always been tricky. We have a standard set of procedures and guidelines that we use to help them check all of our products meticulously.
Who is your most important role model? Harriet Tubman was one of my favorites. She was a slave that came from nothing, but said that she knew enough to free others from slavery. She is living proof that even if you don’t have a lot you can bring empowerment in your own way. She risked her life saving many slaves. She is an amazing example of self-sacrificial love for the cause of freedom.
Edited by The Story Exchange