Actress Bo Derek famously said, “whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.”
The idea that new clothing can make consumers feel better about themselves or serve as a therapy outlet on a bad day is a powerful one. Most clothing companies tend to market their products as things that benefit customers. “Look your best with this” or “reward yourself with that” are common marketing tools. While retail therapy is far from a crime, it does have a lot of self-serving roots. At Purpose Boutique in Kirkland shopping influences more than the buyer.
The store’s motto is: “How you shop can change a life.” Through donations, partnerships with brands that support a variety of causes, and their own dress line crafted by refugee women, Purpose combines a little self-indulgence with a lot of giving back.
“We believe that there is a bigger purpose to this life, and that as a business, in partnership with our customers, we can and should directly empower women around the world with sustainable tools and opportunities for growth and freedom,” founder Christie Johnson and co-owner Amy Witt wrote in a statement to 425 Business. “Our for-profit business model is very intentional- we want to make it easy for women to make a direct impact while doing something they love – shopping!”
The idea for Purpose started in 2013 when Johnson was juggling her life as a Navy wife with two little babies in Bremerton. She wanted to open a store that served a purpose. Using her talent for styling and her determination to make it all means something she started the company. Purpose has a Bremerton location in addition to the Kirkland store.
In addition to donating 10 percent of net proceeds to Hope for Our Sisters and Rescue:Freedom International, the majority of jewelry and accessories sold at Purpose support disadvantaged people. Whether they’re earrings that help women’s fair trade co-ops in India and Nepal, or colorful bracelets made out of recycled paper by people training to rise above poverty, most of the store’s little items have big effects. When Johnson noticed a lack of clothing brands that were both marketable and linked to a cause, she started her own Purpose dress line. Every Purpose dress is made by refugee women at Open Arms who has relocated to the U.S. to start a new life. Dress sales help support their living wages.
At Purpose, the consumer is still at the center of business. Retail therapy is just as positive a force for them as any other store. But the effects of shopping at Purpose go far beyond many other retail businesses. Maybe Derek was right. If you shop at the right places, you can spread a lot of happiness.