Erik Spalding and Cole Evans are former US Navy bomb tech officers and the co-founders of Bullets2Bandages, a jewelry line created to promote peace and healing. The accessories (which also include items like bottle openers) are created from demilitarized bullet casing, and a portion of every sale sale benefits the Travis Manion Foundation, a non-profit for wounded veterans and their loved ones.
We had a chance to catch up with Erik and learn more about the Bullets2Bandages story as well as what keeps him inspired personally as a social entrepreneur.
4 Questions with Erik Spalding, Co-Founder of Bullets2Bandages
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
The concept of Bullets2Bandages was really a side project that gained traction at such a fast pace that Cole and I decided to develop it into a sustainable business.
2. How did you decide to join the social enterprise sector?
Ironically, the terms social enterprise, and social entrepreneurship were terms that we were not even familiar with at the beginning of it all, but the concept of reinvesting in America, and more specifically in the veteran community seemed only natural to us.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
The inspiration or the beginning of the story is just as random as everything else in our life. One day while cleaning out an old bulletproof vest, one of Cole's bullets rolled out next to one of my old dog tags. I took a picture with my iPhone, put it on Facebook, and the positive response was the catalyst for us moving forward. I think the funniest part of the story is that most of our inspiration comes from our passion for influencing change, whether it's with our necklaces, belts, bottles openers, or just a rubber cause bracelet, we aim to make B2B a symbol of positive change within the Veteran Non-Profit sector, and show others that business ethics, and success can go hand in hand.
4. What has been your biggest challenge?
In terms of challenges, every day we realize how much more there is to learn, but thanks to an all-star team here at Bullets2Bandages, we figure out solutions, and never get discouraged... So in essence all of our challenges are just an opportunity to learn and grow.
5. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
As far as creativity, we again lean heavily on the “team” concept. Everyone that works here brings something unique and different to the table, and allows us to tap into everyone’s creativity for our products, so our ritual begins with some internal discussion, some social media crowd sourcing, then product development. Not to beat a dead horse, but I think you can see that Bullets2Bandages is predicated on the concept of ethical business practices and teamwork, and if the past is any indicator to how effective that is, I think we have a very bright future ahead.