Products with Purpose

Companies take action to create a better world
By Julie Auton

What happens when experienced professionals apply their know-how to help others? They change the world. These three AmericasMart exhibitors create products that fulfill both practical and philanthropic functions.

Everyone’s Best Friend
Cara Warren, CEO of Paw It Forward, took her passion for dogs and founded Paw It Forward, a cause-driven lifestyle brand celebrating the immense contributions of dogs while bettering the world.

Warren’s merchandise cleverly links to a specific dog’s story and ten percent of net profits support causes related to each special dog and other charities. For example, “Paw It Forward” stars Ella, Ryan Hyde’s real-life dog, who advocates being kind and a giving lifestyle. The Ella collection includes paw-shaped cookie cutters for children of all ages to bake, sell and donate proceeds to their favorite dog shelter or charity. There’s also Ella’s Inspiration Bracelets, which come in a pack of four—one to wear and three to give away with each random act of kindness.

A Portl to New Life
Established in 1972, New Ventures is a nonprofit organization that trains people with disabilities and barriers to employment and partners with a variety of businesses that outsource particular jobs. One of the businesses the nonprofit partners with is Interface, the world’s largest commercial carpet tile company. Their resourcefulness aligns with Interface’s values of sustainability and leaving a zero carbon footprint.

In addition to making samples and sewing cove-base carpet for Interface, New Ventures launched its own brand, Portl that uses pre-consumer waste in numerous ways. Leftover carpet tile is made into wine totes, laptop and messenger bags, and women’s purses. An additional line, Rugs Powered by Portl, takes carpet tile overages from installations and produces affordably priced 5-by-8-foot rugs. And all products are American made.

No Lack of Knack
When Knack3 decided to go beyond focusing on profits to also seeking opportunities to care, the answer was at their doorstep. “My business partner’s wife, Christina Pochmursky, travels to India frequently and volunteers at an orphanage to help educate girls,” explains Len Walker, president of Knack3. “When she was invited to someone’s home for dinner, Christina was impressed by the assortment of delicious dishes served on plain dinnerware. This inspired her to suggest that we develop an authentic collection of unique dinnerware with a real Indian design flare.” From this was born the “Taste of India” collection in which a percentage of sales fund the orphanage’s education efforts.

Knack3 plans to grow and evolve to include other merchandise with designs correlating to other charities. It’s also establishing the “knack3kares” brand to encompass collections that ultimately give back to the community. “I’ve been in product manufacturing for a long time, so my philosophy is to run a successful company,” says Walker. “But we also want to make a difference in the community as we grow.

For more information: Paw it Forward – 404.966.4040, pawitforward.net; PortlNew Ventures, Inc. – 706.882.7723, portl.org; knack3, Inc. – 905.632.0002, knack3.com.

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