When disease strikes, it’s important to be brave for yourself, your friends, and your family — to stay hopeful and persevere. While that’s certainly easier said than done, a symbol, like a bracelet or necklace, can be helpful for reminding you why it’s worth your while to stick it out. That’s where Austin-based company Bravelets comes in.
Bravelets was founded by company CEO Stephanie Hansen in Jan. 2012, a few months after her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had difficulty finding something stylish that she and her family could wear to remind them to be brave through the terrifying ordeal. That led her to create Bravelets, a “for-profit company with giving at our core,” which now has six full-time workers and one intern.
Bravelets not only sells jewelry with the phrase “Be Brave” engraved in each piece of jewelry, which range from between $25 to $42, but they also give $10 of each sale to a worthy cause or charity. Bravelets COO Elisabeth Nakielny told Austin.com they’ve raised $678,300 as of this writing for over 600 causes so far, ranging from pancreatic cancer research to helping victims of sexual assault.
The company does more than just sell jewelry and give a portion to causes: Bravelets also allows people to share their stories on their website with what they call “Brave Pages.” They’ve even set up a fundraising options to help charities and pay people’s medical bills.
“We’re more than just a jewelry company,” Nakielny said. “We’re a symbol of hope and courage and since our mission is to help people be brave, we enable fundraisers that support that mission.”
Their website puts it perfectly. “We don’t believe in the phrase ‘a portion of proceeds will be donated,'” the company explains. “What does that mean? Is a portion $.01? Is a portion 1%? That kind of giving is confusing and un-fulfilling to the purchaser. We want you to feel good about your purchase. We want you to know, when you look down at your wrist, that $10 was donated to your cause. We want you to know that you helped make a difference.”
The idea caught on in a big way, and Austinites came out to support Bravelets in droves. That’s one of the reasons why they have no plans to ever leave Austin.
“Austin is great for attracting talent,” Nakielny said. “People want to live in Austin, which is very helpful for recruiting. It’s just a great city.”
The company plans to begin letting people sell its jewelry at charity events soon, to “make income, have a sense of purpose, and raise money for the causes they care about,” Nakielny said. More than anything though, Bravelets wants to keep raising money and awareness for families in need, one piece of jewelry at a time.
Join that mission at Bravelets.com.
The “braided leather” bracelet from Bravelets. Photo: Bravelets, used with permission
The “cuff,” “adjustable,” and “original” bracelets from Bravelets. Photo: Bravelets, used with permission