By Janine Vanderburg, President/CEO, Joining Vision and Action

Sarah HideyFor over three years, Sarah Hidey helped JVA clients raise money—through grantwriting and through social enterprise development. Using her MBA and her background in international development, as well as her passion for social enterprise, Sarah helped our clients plan earned income ventures, and developed our initial version of Social Enterprise Basecamp, a weeklong intensive to help startup and emerging social purpose businesses plan a business that works!

Fresh from a year and a half of international travel, Sarah Hidey is back in Denver where she has launched Tribe, a mission-focused sustainable fashion business with a triple bottom line: making money, employing women abroad and in the US, and contributing 10% of the profits to a nonprofit called Children’s Future International. Sarah describes what Tribe does as “locally designed and globally inspired for a greater purpose.”

When I had a chance to catch up with Sarah, she shared some powerful lessons she has learned in the last year of launching her own social enterprise:

  • Be willing to invest everything you have in it. Despite everything we read about impact investing, most social enterprises do not secure investments from the outside.
  • Build an advisory team before your launch. Understand what you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to turn to people you’ve met who do know these things. Avoid making mistakes you don’t need to.
  • Use a partner model. Sarah and her partner realized that while they wanted to create jobs for women, they didn’t want to be the employers, so partnered with organizations that could employ women locally and internationally to produce their fashion items.
  • Secure pre-orders. When she was at JVA, Sarah and I teamed on teaching “lean startup” principles to nonprofits and social enterprises. She’s applied that approach to Tribe, using an indiegogo campaign to pre-sell clothing and to determine which items will be popular. (Note: order fast—I snatched up the last copy of the honeycomb skirt!)

Want to see Sarah and Tribe in action? They’ll be presenting at Colorado Fashion Week this Sunday, an incredible coup for this JVA alum and social entrepreneur. You go!