When Kevin McLean came to a realization that served as a turning point in his life — that “I am the only one in control of my future” — he decided to do something big: sell hope.
In July 2015 Kevin founded Knots for Change Inc., a humanitarian and animal welfare organization based in Toronto. The company sells trendy rope bracelets with anchor-shaped clasps emblazoned with cause-inspired tag-words (i.e. “compassion”). Some of the proceeds from each sale go to a charity relevant to that cause.
“I have always wanted to change the world,” says Kevin, 36. “This business allows me to help.”
The bracelets are designed to show support for a variety of causes — including animal welfare, child development, education, environment, health and fitness, human rights, medical research and prevention, mental health and wellness, veterans, and world aid and development. Early charity partners include Zoe’s Animal Rescue Society, Canadian Mental Health Association and Amnesty International.
Building the Knots for Change tribe
As a new business owner, Kevin has a ton on his plate. Namely, building relationships with charities worldwide. So it’s a good thing that getting his business online has been easy. Kevin is using several GoDaddy products, including GoDaddy Email Marketing, Online Store, Search Engine Visibility and Professional Email. “I use them everyday,” he says. “They are extremely important because they work together seamlessly.”
His biggest challenge so far has been getting media exposure. But Kevin is obviously doing a few things right. Knots For Change already has more than 2,000 likes on Facebook, 26,000 followers on Twitter and 14,000 followers on Instagram. Not to mention an email marketing list of more than 14,000 people.
These are strong marketing stats for a fledgling business. What’s Kevin’s recipe for success? His patience and motivation. He’s consistently active on social media, where he regularly shares his GoDaddy Email Marketing signup form and encourages followers to subscribe. In fact, he was promoting his brand for several months before launching pre-sales in September.
“Yes, we have a big crowd of followers,” he says. “I started tweeting and posting back in June when I had the initial business idea, [and I] also got my tweets posted on a few high-profile Twitter accounts, so people just follow from there; likewise for Facebook.”
Taking pride in the business
Knots for Change follows in the footsteps of popular brands like TOMS, a company built on the notion that giving back is good for business. “Believe in your product and others will believe in it as well,” says Kevin, summing up his business philosophy.
He’s passionate about the causes his products support, but he’s just as committed to offering a product that he — and his customers — can be proud of. To create a niche, Kevin carefully chose unique materials for his bracelets.
Customers can customize their look by choosing the color of the anchor clasp: silver, gold or rose gold. Kevin hopes that happy customers will share photos of their new bracelets across social media.
Learning the small-biz ropes on the fly
Like anyone who has launched a small business from scratch, Kevin has learned a lot in these early days. His best advice for other entrepreneurs?
- Managing your time is important.
- Read before you hit “send.”
- Listen to others who have been there before you.
For now, Knots for Change is a part-time gig. Kevin is striving to strike a balance between his personal and professional lives during this busy startup period. He makes it clear that his No. 1 goal is his family; the business comes second. He even sets reminders on his mobile devices to look at family photos.
Looking ahead and thinking big
In five years, Kevin hopes that Knots for Change will be on the world stage, involved in large-scale humanitarian events. He seems to be on the right track. Knots For Change has a unique product, a clear message and a strong online marketing presence — all valuable assets in building a business.
To continue to get the word out, Kevin is thinking ahead to upcoming holidays that are a good fit for Knots for Change, including Veterans Day and Christmas. “I plan to use GoDaddy Email Marketing campaigns for both,” he says.
It’s beginning to look like lots of people will be sporting Knots For Change bracelets in the new year.