The Feel-Good Way To Give Back While Gifting This Christmas

Finding ways to give back to the community is top-of-mind for a lot of Aussies this Christmas. And it’s kind of not surprising.

“You don’t have to go very far to be blasted with how many bad things are going on in the world, whether they’re environmental or political or just horrible things that people are doing to each other,” says social entrepreneur and founder of Bravery Co. Emily.

“I think being able to buy something that’s not only going to be a gift for someone you love but also going to have a bigger meaning and a bigger impact is a tiny way that we, as consumers, can take back a little bit of power and do some good that will make a change.”

Whether you’re choosing products with an environmental conscience, or spending your money with businesses that donate a percentage of profits to causes -- as Bravery Co. does -- picking out gifts that do good is one way to put a bit of control back in our own hands.

Image: Supplied

“I think it’s giving us the power to do something, and it also means the presents that people unwrap will have more heart behind them,” says Em. “They’re more meaningful.”

We’ve partnered with ING Dreamstarter to bring you Gifts that Give this holiday season -- and the beautiful scarves created by cancer warrior Emily are just one way to give back through gifting.

Finding A Way To Feel Good

Remarkably, Emily had the idea for Bravery Co. -- beautiful scarves that are stylish and comfortable for cancer warriors to wear during chemotherapy -- while she was going through treatment for her first fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I couldn’t find what I was looking for when I was bald and had cancer,” she tells 10 daily.

“The info from the hospital was aimed at women a lot older than me and not what you want when you’re 27 years old and don’t want to look like a cancer patient. You lose a lot of confidence when you feel like everyone’s looking at you and you’re getting a lot of pity stares. But when you look good, you feel good, and then you have a better chance of kicking cancer’s ass.”

Image: Supplied

So Emily set about finding headwear that did make her feel good. “I started playing around with scarves. I did a lot of YouTube tutorials by beautiful African women and learnt how to tie a turban style that made me feel more like myself and not like a cancer patient,” she explains.

“People would stop and compliment me, and it was really lovely having people that didn’t know I was sick say how much they loved my scarf.”

“One day, a woman stopped me in the chemo ward where we were both having treatment and asked me how to tie her scarf. I tied it in a big turban for her and it felt really nice to be able to help. She lit up. And that was where the idea [for the business] was sparked. Other people are in this shitty position, too, and I have the chance to help them.”

Paying It Forward

Emily’s desire to help others fit perfectly within ING Dreamstarter’s ethos of working with fledgling companies looking to develop their ideas for creating change into viable businesses.

“The team at ING have been so supportive,” says Emily. “When I found out about the program, it was perfect timing because I wanted to produce this range of our own scarves in collaboration with designers and I was kind of trucking along with it but, at the same time, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to afford to put up all this money for the minimum orders we had to get printed.”

Through their matched crowdfunding approach, along with their ‘Grants for Growth, ING helps its Dreamstarter participants finance their businesses and promote their products.

“I was blown away by how many people got involved,” says Emily. “It went gangbusters and we ended up raising more than $50k, which was an absolute game changer. It gave me a chance to make Bravery Co. what I wanted it to be; it gave the business a point of difference, our own identity and our own stories.”

Image: Supplied

Give A Good Gift

Emily’s beautiful super-soft scarves -- along with a range of ‘F*ck cancer’ branded merch -- are available at ING Dreamstarter’s Good Gift Shop.

From ethical and sustainable manufacturing processes to the employment of disadvantaged community members, use of recycled or repurposed materials, and contribution of sales to a cause, everything at the ING Christmas pop-up store gives back to society or the environment, so shoppers can feel good about buying (or requesting!) gifts that are helping make positive change.

In Emily’s case, 10 percent of profits from Bravery Co. scarves go to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center for research -- but she’s quick to note that the beautiful, hand-designed scarves are for everyone.

“The company is based on supporting and styling cancer warriors but the scarves can be worn by anyone, whether they have cancer or not,” she says.

“They aren’t only presents for people with cancer -- they’re for scarf lovers and cancer haters.”