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Liora Katz, Founder of SWAK X (INTERVIEW)

— December 15, 2011 — Social Good
In this interview with Social Business, Sealed With a Kiss (SWAK X) Founder, Liora Katz, shares her story about joining the world of social entrepreneurship, beginning with a journey back home to South Africa. The jewelry designer currently has a line in collaboration with Wrist to Hair that works to empower and employ young adults affected by HIV/Aids.

We recently wrote a profile that included a gallery of the SWAK X and W2H collaboration. Now Liora answers a few of our questions on her business model, her source of inspiration and how she manages to stay creative.

4 Questions with Liora Katz, Founder of SWAK X

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
I was living in the USA and moved back to South Africa. I found it very difficult to be here again with all the poverty and suffering. I wanted to add something to the lives of those less fortunate in a way that made an impact on their lives, personally.

I met with the Tomorrow Trust and realized that something as simple as recognition on your birthday was not an option or a presence in their lives. As I love my birthday, this really upset me. I decided to create a birthday program for the Tomorrow Trust students and found a team to assist. We bake a cake delivered with a candle, personalized card and a gift to every student on their birthday. They are sung happy birthday to and the importance of their worth on this day is noted.

Through this program, I got to know a few of the ladies and once they graduated, realized that the support structure offered by the Tomorrow Trust was not available to them in the same way after studying. Many struggled to find work in this competitive market and needed a transitional program to assist.

At the time my sister in-law was moving to Australia and asked me to find her something to do there. Hence, the birth of SWAK X! I had the platform for a product, the International market and the ability to assist young ladies by taking their talents, offering holistic training in all aspects of life - from writing a resume, to dressing, to contraception, HIV testing, balancing a check book etc. and finding their talents and what they wanted to do and utilizing it at SWAK X. The aim was to offer temporary work and help them find a permanent career, but to this day the core team has not wanted to leave!

What was also amazing was the South African local response, which is actually the largest current market for SWAK X.

2. How did you decide to join this sector?
Think it is covered above - but the desire and need to make a difference and help these very talented, amazing ladies and hopefully change their lives.

3. How do you get your inspiration?
Seeing how much the ladies we employ have grown and wanting to help thousands of young ladies and their families. I want to know that SWAK X has created employment and empowered many women and through this changed the pattern and the future of their families.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
I work best under pressure and stress, so as the market and the needs change,
so the inspiration is demanded! Also, when I travel I find that the
international landscape offers so many new and unique ideas and is often the
catalyst to creativity within SWAK X. Also, the people I meet that get
involved help build the landscape to a new area of growth and creativity
within SWAK X.
Trend Themes
1. Social Entrepreneurship - There is an opportunity to create businesses that prioritize social impact over profit.
2. Empowerment of Disadvantaged Groups - Businesses can explore ways to empower and employ groups that have historically faced barriers to employment.
3. Collaborations for Impact - Collaborating with organizations whose mission aligns with a company's can amplify the positive impact of both entities.
Industry Implications
1. Jewelry - Jewelry designers can explore ways to integrate social impact into their business model.
2. Non-profit - Non-profit organizations can collaborate with businesses to create mutually beneficial initiatives.
3. Fashion - The fashion industry can create opportunities for disadvantaged groups to gain employment and skills training.
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