Photo by Gerson Repreza
As a creator who regularly interviews purpose-driven startup founders, I’m always checking my social media feeds and Google alerts for the latest innovations. I’ve noticed a growing trend: celebrities are no longer simply lending their names to causes, ad campaigns or charities. Instead they’re starting their own positive-impact businesses to help tackle some of today’s biggest social and/or environmental problems.
And of course my next thought was…. time to put together another Causeartist list!
Following are the top ten mission-driven, business-minded celebrities making a positive impact. The list includes famous film actors, TV stars, musicians and models. Some I’m sure you’ve heard about but quite a few may surprise you!
1: Pharrell Williams, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Bionic Yarn
Pharrell’s spreading Happy vibes beyond just his music with Bionic Yarn, a company that creates high-performance yarn and fabric from recovered plastic.
So far, Bionic Yarn has teamed up with some of the biggest names in the fashion business, including Adidas, Timberland, Topshop and GAP, to create upcycled clothing collections. The company also recently collaborated with G-Star Raw and Parley for the Oceans to transform recovered plastic from shorelines into an entire denim collection.
Inspired by a meeting with an Ethiopian coffee farmer named Dukale back in 1999, Jackman launched his Laughing Man Coffee shop in New York so farmers in developing countries could sell their products in the U.S. The Laughing Man Coffee brand was later purchased by Keurig, which now sells Laughing Man Coffee K-Cup varieties.
The proceeds made from the sales of Laughing Man Coffee are directly invested back in the Laughing Man Foundation, which, according to the website “supports educational programs, community development and social entrepreneurs around the world.”
3: Matt Damon, Co-Founder, water.org
I’ve known about water.org and their amazing work for awhile now – but had no idea that Matt Damon was one of the co-founders!
More than just a charity that provides safe water and sanitation for communities in need, water.org’s WaterCredit initiative provides small loans so more people can gain access to clean water. Their New Ventures Fund also provides funding to innovative projects helping to solve the world’s growing water crisis.
4: Leonardo DiCaprio, Founder, Blackadore Caye: A Restorative Island
I always knew that Leo was a passionate environmentalist who loves ‘the beach.’ But I didn’t realize until recently that he’s building a ground-breaking, sustainable resort on a private island off the coast of Belize.
Going beyond the current concept of an ‘eco-resort,’ this innovative getaway will focus more on restoring the island’s natural resources instead of merely raising awareness around environmental issues and eco-living.
According to reports, it will feature homes and villas built with sustainable and local materials and integrate renewable energy, electric vehicles and innovative water and waste treatment systems. Can’t wait to visit!
5: Amber Valletta, Founder, Master & Muse
High-fashion model turned entrepreneur, Amber Valetta’s ecommerce site sells some of my favorite ethical fashion brands, including Veja and Matt & Nat.
All of the clothing and accessories on the site incorporate socially responsible and sustainable practices and they partner with a number of industry leaders including The Ethical Fashion Forum and Carbonfund.org.
6: Edward Norton, Co-Founder, Crowdrise
Famous for his roles in films like Fight Club, Norton’s now decided to take the side of people raising funds for charitable and personal causes – and he’s helping them win the battle with his crowdfunding platform Crowdrise.
Not only does Crowdrise allow you to keep the money raised, whether or not you make your goal, donors also earn rewards points every time they support a campaign.
7: Gina Rodriguez, Co-Founder, Naja
Most known for her role on the TV series Jane the Virgin, Gina Rodriguez’s social impact underwear line Naja helps empower female garment workers in South America. Naja’s garment factory primarily employs single mothers or female heads of households and pays them above market wages with healthcare benefits. They also pay for school books, school supplies, uniforms and school meals for their children.
8: Jessica Alba, Co-Founder, The Honest Company
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard about all of the success Jessica Alba’s had with The Honest Company.
Recently ranked by Forbes as one of America’s richest self-made women, she owes it all to the The Honest Company’s own brand of eco-friendly baby, cleaning and personal care products.
9: Lily Cole, Co-Founder, The North Circular
I’m a big fan of British model and environmentalist Lily Cole’s style and was stoked to learn that she, along with co-founder Katherine Poulton, launched this luxury knitwear company.
According to their website, The North Circular employs a “UK network of talented home knitters” who use only natural, biodegradable fibers to create beanies, scarves and more.
10: Frederique van der Wal, Founder, Frederique’s Choice
Another high-fashion model turned entrepreneur, Frederique van der Wal’s online florist company, Frederiques Choice, not only works directly with growers around the world but also incorporates reusable and sustainable packaging.
Each bouquet gets shipped in a bamboo pressed, biodegradable vase to nine different countries in Europe and, most recently, the U.S.
Rebecca Cressmana is a PR/Communications Consultant and Purpose-Driven Blogger helping organizations reach a wider audience with their social impact and sustainability stories. As the founder of globesprouting, she tells inspiring startup stories and provides expert advice to help entrepreneurs launch and grow a purpose-driven business. She’s also a certified GRI (G4) sustainability reporting trainee and her thought-leadership content has appeared in publications like Foundr, Adweek and Causeartist. Most importantly, she promises to keep everything 100% GMO and BS-free.