Here at Black & Abroad, we work to ensure that our mission concedes simple brand recognition.
Often along the way, we encounter other like-minded individuals that have successfully mastered the space beyond their anticipated approach to empower the diaspora.
These are the influencers, visionaries, and tastemakers that have managed to successfully employ their own blueprints to create a better world for us tomorrow.
Over the next few weeks, we will present to you a hand-picked line-up of black-owned & operated brands that deserve your consideration.
That deserve your support.
That deserve your attention.
Welcome to the Black & Abroad Conversation Series.
Meet Michelle Blue (R) & Sasha Matthews (L), founders of Bené Scarves.
These ladies designed a way to bundle their love for high fashion & philanthropy into a practical means of educating young girls in a town just outside of Accra, Ghana.
Michelle, a self proclaimed ‘planner,’ couldn’t have ever prepared herself for the global change that she and her business partner Sasha were about to make.
We got a chance to get up close and personal with her to learn more about Bené Scarves and their mission.
Tell us about the founders of Bené and how you met?
Sasha and I went to middle and high school together and even though we went to different colleges, we grew closer as friends as we shared our passions and motivations in life.
Give us a glimpse into the moment that you ladies came up with the idea.
While I was a student at the University of Georgia, I had the opportunity to study abroad to Ghana. During one of our visits I met some really amazing girls. They welcomed us so warmly and despite all they seemingly didn’t have, they still had an infectious joy and spirit that I was in awe of. I left that day wanting to do more, wanting to be a part of these girls lives and girls with similar stories around the world, girls who were fighting to receive an education. As soon as I could, I called Sasha to share with her the stories of the girls I had met. Being from Jamaica, the stories of the girls resonated with Sasha and it was then that we knew we had to do something. After several months of balancing school and trying to figure out how we could support the girls we were inspired to start Bené, a collection of scarves committed to help support girls in Ghana continue their secondary education by providing tuition, books, supplies and uniforms to fulfill their dreams.
What level of importance does travel play in your mission?
Travel was essentially what started our business! Being exposed to other cultures is what allowed us to see that there is so much need out there and appreciate that we are equipped to play a part in meeting that need. Ghana was the impetus for us starting the business, but Sasha and I are committed to providing an education to young girls around the world. This gives us the opportunity to visit different countries and learn more about the communities we support.
What makes Bené different from any other company?
When we started Bené we knew that we wanted to make a difference in the girls lives that I met on my trip to Ghana. We knew that it had to be sustainable and something greater than the two of us. We have started with educating girls in Ghana and hope to support girls all around the world. When you educate girls, you’re not just educating them, you’re changing their lives, their family lives, and you’re contributing to their countries. When you think about what impact that really has, that can change the world. And if we can be apart of that, I think that’s awesome!
Is this a full or part-time endeavor?
Two weeks after graduation I made the leap and launched the business full-time.
Has your company been featured anywhere?
We have been fortunate to be able to share our story on a lot of great platforms. Last year we had the opportunity to work with Pantene on their “Stronger Together” campaign, empowering women by showing how Sasha and I work together to build the business and support the girls. We have also been featured on Lucky.com, PureWow, PopSugar, Black Enterprise and was recognized on Mashable as “11 Black Owned Businesses Changing the World”.
How & where are your products made?
We recently transitioned into the luxury market, with the launch of our Akwaaba Collection, and have placed a huge emphasis on the craftsmanship and love that goes into making our scarves. All of our patterns are custom designed in house, printed on 100% silk and made right here in Atlanta. Each scarf is a reflection of the tenacity and spirit of the girls we support with a quote from each girl seamlessly woven into each design. Customers receive a picture of the girl and are able to learn more about her story and the life they are able to sow into through their purchase.
Where can we find them?
Where will we see Bené in 5 years?
In 5 years we hope to support girls in multiple countries continue their education and plan to make our first expansion to Jamaica by 2017. We have great plans to continue to grow the business and our impact and hope that you stay connected with us during this journey.
For those of us interested in supporting, how can we help?
We appreciate the support and would love if you:
1. SHARE: Help us spread the word! YOU are our best marketing. Use your voice and share photos of you in your Bené scarf and of the work we are doing. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter @Bené Scarves. Use the hashtag #BENESCARVES #BUYASCARFEDUCATEAGIRL
2. REFER A FRIEND: If you know of anyone that would be interested in our scarves and our commitment to educating girls around the world, please refer them to us!
3. SHOP: Shop for yourself and for others. Our scarves are the perfect gift... Plus you don’t have to worry about wrapping it, each Bené scarf comes in a beautiful gift box, with a picture of the girl we support, more information about her story, her dreams and aspirations and most importantly how your purchase is helping make this possible.
4. HOST A TRUNK SHOW: We would love the opportunity to share our mission with your friends by hosting a trunk show in your home or location of choice. Bene will bring in a representative to handle all logistics, all we need from you is the space!
We couldn’t do this without people like you who love our product and stand behind our mission to educate girls around the world.
For more info, head to www.Benéscarves.com