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Sharon Schneider, Founder & CEO of Good Karma Clothing for Kids (INTERVIEW)

— February 3, 2012 — Social Good
Sharon Schneider is the Founder and CEO of Good Karma Clothing for Kids, a monthly subscription service that offers upcycled, like-new clothes for your fast-growing baby. Rather than buying something new every time a size changes, Good Karma is better for the environment, your wallet and for teaching socially responsible consumption practices to your children.

Here, Sharon Schneider tells SocialBusiness.org about how Good Karma was born and how she gets creative (Twitter!).

Schneider will be speaking at COMMON Pitch NYC on February 15, so if you're in the city, check out the invigorating event that takes collaborative consumption to the next level.

Four Questions with Sharon Schneider

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?

I am the mother of three, my youngest daughter, Willa, is 18 mos. And I love to dress my sweet little pig in great outfits, but as a mom who tries to avoid conspicuous consumption and who wants to raise my kids to be socially responsible, I'm not into spending a lot of money on something that we use for such a short time (a really good winter coat or a mattress you'll sleep on every night for the next 10 years is a different story).

My sisters and friends and I have passed baby clothes around, sharing them as much as possible to distribute the costs among us. But then I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if there were a central repository where my friends and I could store our baby clothes when we don’t need them? Someone who could keep them clean and organized, and send me just the best of the bunch, in the sizes I need, just when I need them? We’d all save money, we’d buy less and waste less, and our kids would always look great.”

And that’s how Good Karma Clothing for Kids was born.

2. How did you decide to join this sector?

I’ve been advising people about their philanthropy for over a decade, from some of the largest foundations in the world to everyday, regular folks. In person and through my blog, I’ve always encouraged them to go beyond giving money to charity and think about all the assets they can bring to the table, and how they can especially use their power as investors and consumers to bring about the changes they want to see in the world.

Philanthropy as we have known it for the past few decades has been about giving money. But as we progress in the 21st century, I believe it will be about spending money: people are becoming more aware every day that we are shaping ourselves and the world around us by voting with our pocketbooks everyday. Organic food, fair trade, buying local -- all these are expressions of our consumer power working for positive social change.

So I see Good Karma as an evolution of my professional career -- from helping people give cash to charity to helping people really create the world they want to live in through their everyday consumer choices. It was a natural move for me.

3. How do you get your inspiration?

When my niece was born and I was packing up my daughter's outgrown clothes, inspiration struck. But I will say I heard a speaker at the Independent Sector conference last year talking about how innovation isn't a single one-time act, but it's usually about bringing together multiple ideas from different sectors in a new way. I think that's what I'm doing. After that first kernal of an idea, it was really about bringing together a lot of existing ideas to create a real business model. (Subscription service + collaborative consumption + social networks + fundraisers) x baby clothes = Good Karma Clothing for Kids.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?

Honestly, I am an online omnivore -- I read everything. I love to check in with Twitter especially and follow the trail of people's thoughts, articles and resources they point to. I can get lost reading about someone else's company and then think of 10 ideas to apply to Good Karma.
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