For Purpose Kids is a retail toy company that seeks to leverage the "Power of Play" to help educate kids on cultural diversity. The toys represent characters from different cultures and include books that provide information about each character's cultural background. In addition, the company is an advocate for sustainable business practices and works to ensure that all products are sourced, manufactured, and distributed ethically. The two UN SDGs that For Purpose Kids is most closely aligned with are "Reduced Inequalities" and "Sustainable Cities and Communities."
For Purpose Kids was founded by Misty Casteñeda in 2016. Misty graduated from James Madison University (JMU) in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and spent several years in Sales and Marketing upon graduating. Feeling unfulfilled by her corporate job, Misty decided to create For Purpose Kids.
For Purpose Kids creates and sells high-quality dolls, which the company refers to as "Global Kidizens." Each Kidizen represents a different global culture and included with each Kidizen is a book that provides cultural information on topics including, but not limited to, language, music, food, hobbies, and more. The company currently focuses its efforts on achieving success in the retail industry, positioning its product as a luxury toy worthy of a higher price point.
In addition to contributing to cultural diversity education and reducing inequality, For Purpose Kids is also very focused on sustainability. In addition to making high-quality products, Misty is also focused on ensuring that all aspects of her business model demonstrate a genuine care to support environmental/social awareness. Misty knew from the start that she wanted to not only work with a Fair Trade Organization, but also find vendors/artists/manufacturers whose mission and interests in supporting social causes aligned with her own.
Upon graduating from JMU in 1997, Misty began her professional career working various sales and marketing roles within the hospitality industry. Although she found success in her roles, Misty found herself feeling unfulfilled by the work she was doing. "I felt miserable," she explained. From a young age, Misty knew that two things she was passionate about were volunteer work and helping others, especially young kids. Despite this, Misty decided to pursue a corporate job upon graduating because in her head, as with many others, that was what one needed to do to be able to support themselves and their future family. "I also had a Type A personality from my father who worked in financial services," Misty elaborates.
Eventually Misty took a leap of faith and quit her job in the hospitality industry to travel to Hong Kong with her current husband. It was there that Misty noticed the extreme wealth gap that existed in the country. "It was so crazy to me," she said. "I started asking myself how do we support the community? More importantly, how do we teach kids to have awareness?" These questions proved to be the foundation of what would eventually be For Purpose Kids, and in 2016, Misty launched her company with the goal of hopefully addressing both of these concerns. Through this business, Misty now feels a sense of fulfillment knowing that she is using her passion to build and support something that she genuinely cares about.
The unfortunate truth is that since its inception, For Purpose Kids has struggled to achieve consistent financial success. "I feel like people are supporting me more than the product," says Misty. Despite her struggles, Misty has been awarded for her efforts to do well by also doing good in addition to attending various conferences. The short-term impact of her innovation can be hard to decipher on a quantitative basis. It goes without question, however, that Misty has garnered support from many people in her network. The US market for sustainable companies is still growing, which may be a contributing factor to Misty's early struggles. The need for such companies, however, is in fact growing. In the long-term, it is companies with integrity and a clear purpose, such as For Purpose Kids, that have the potential to make a huge impact on society and achieve financial success as a byproduct.
As mentioned previously, the innovation that is For Purpose Kids has failed to result in significant benefits from a financial standpoint. Revenue and profits, however, is not the sole indicator of the value that a business brings to society. The market for environmentally and socially aware companies is growing as the political and economic landscape continues to change. As a result, Misty has started to explore new business opportunities which may have the potential to create new income streams for the company. One thing Misty has thought of doing is partnering with non-profit organizations and using her company to support other social causes.
At the end of the day, the fact that people seem to support Misty more than her product may prove to be a good thing. The connection and loyalty people will show to a person compared to a product is very strong. Upon fine-tuning her product and business model, Misty is well-positioned to find success by setting an example for other companies and entrepreneurs. In business terms, Misty can be classified as a first-mover or market maker, which has its own set of unique advantages. As the market for sustainable and socially responsible companies continues to mature, the sky is truly the limit for a company like For Purpose Kids.
Social and environmental benefit
One unique thing about For Purpose Kids is that the company leverages the "Power of Play" to help support a social cause. Studies have shown that play in young kids helps to build the brain and body supporting brain function, facilitating synapse connection, and improving brain plasticity. In essence, For Purpose Kids provides education and awareness to kids in a developmental stage when they are likely to be most receptive to it. Education at this young age is imperative in building strong and socially responsible leaders of tomorrow. For Purpose Kids has taken a unique approach that enables children to be exposed to cultural diversity in a more passive manner, almost involuntarily, rather than forcing them to learn about it themselves or from someone else.
In addition to this, For Purpose Kids has a more direct impact on the environment by engaging in socially responsible business practices. As mentioned before, from the start, Misty was adamant about working with a Fair Trade Organization. In addition, sustainability or adherence to sustainable business practices tends to be quite capital intensive. Despite slim margins, Misty does not compromise on her beliefs or mission, demonstrating a level of integrity that not many have. In other words, she does not just talk the talk, but also walks the walk.
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For Purpose Kids
Number of Employees:
2 to 10
For Purpose Kids is a retail company that seeks to leverage the "Power of Play" to educate children about cultural diversity and promote sustainable business practices.