Adriana Carrig was in college when she started creating bracelets for her sorority as an easy way to build community and encouragement. It didn’t take long for her to realize that her creative outlet to do good could actually become a viable and profitable business.
“While I was in college, I created a version of these bracelets to be passed around my college sorority,” shares Carrig. “The girls were so obsessed with the idea of ‘sharing kindness’ that it really took off. I kept thinking about that concept, and knew I was on to something. What started as an exercise in positivity and self-love, needed to become a movement that could affect all women positively.”
In 2013, a year after graduation, Carrig took on Little Words Project full-time. Over six years, the company has built an active online community that supports doing good and has recently launched a non-profit that is focused on closing the confidence gap many college-aged women struggle with.
“[With the bracelets], I wanted something to remind me every day that I was enough and that all women are enough,” explains Carrig about the word bracelets that are full of positive affirmations.
Below Carrig shares how her Latinidad has influenced the trajectory of her career, where she hopes Little Words Project will go next, and what has helped guide her on her entrepreneurial journey.
Adriana Carrig: I started Little Words Project because I desperately wanted to do something that would fulfill my desire to help others while also making a difference in the world.
From my first month in business, I knew based on profitability alone that there was a demand for these bracelets. It became clear very quickly that women needed the reminder, the motivation, or the inspiration that came with a Little Word.
As soon as I started noticing more and more women purchasing the bracelets and genuinely thanking me for creating something that was filling a gap for so many, I knew I was on to something.
Nunez: When did you know it was time to abandon the prospect for law school in order to pursue Little Words Project full-time?
Carrig: I supposed I’d always known that I wanted to do work with a social impact — work that would positively affect the people around me. The idea of law school was a conventional one that I had hoped would ultimately enable me to help others. In fact, it wasn’t until after I’d taken my LSATs that I’d even had the idea to start this as a full-fledged business. With new resolve to make this my path, I reluctantly went to my parents to let them know that I wouldn’t be going to law school and instead I’d be clearing a space in the basement to launch my jewelry company. Luckily, they whole-heartedly supported my decision. Having their support helped reaffirm my belief in this brand. From then on, I knew I would spread this concept and these bracelets to women everywhere.
Carrig: Little Words Project is and has always been 100% self-funded. We have not accepted any outside capital to expand the business and have only recently applied for our first line of credit which has yet to be touched. I’ve always believed in the idea of “lean operations” as a means to grow the business. We do what we can with what we have and reinvest profits in the business’ growth.
The decision to remain self-funded has been an intentional one. We wanted to experience truly organic growth and build a solid foundation to actually make a difference in the female community. We felt that required a very slow but steady approach to build trust and adopt market share. As we near our next growth phase, however, we will certainly not be blocking any financial blessings that come our way.
Carrig: I sometimes wish I had created a more strategic business plan from the beginning. I tend to be a “just go for it” kind of person, which has been amazing for starting a business but can often be difficult to stay organized in the day to day.
However, I don’t know that I would go back and change anything, even in hindsight. Everything I’ve experienced has brought me to this point – running a business I am incredibly proud of, leading a team that I am so grateful for, and of course, answering an interview with Forbes (!!!). I accept the choices I’ve made as ones I needed to make in those moments, and I’m grateful for where I am today as a result of those decisions, no matter how many sleepless nights or difficult mornings it’s taken me to get here.
Carrig: Querer es Poder, is Spanish for, “If you want it, you can achieve it.” My mother used to say this to me every day before I left the house as I was growing up.
My mother, a Mexican immigrant, instilled in me from an early age that if you want something badly enough, and if you’re willing to work hard enough for it, it can be yours. Her tenacity, strength and work ethic are incredible and have inspired me since the very beginning. If she could come from where she started to where she is today, then I can certainly go from the blessed life she and my father have given me to the highest heights imaginable. She’s taught me to never give up, to always believe in myself, and to lend a helping hand to those who need it most along the way.
Carrig: Giving back has always been a huge driver for me when starting this business. In the beginning, no matter how profitable we were, we were committed to teaming up with various organizations to create special bracelet collections from which a portion of sales was donated!
Earlier this year, we launched The Block Organization, a non-profit dedicated to promoting kindness amongst collegiate women in an effort to enhance self-esteem and promote confident, empowered leaders of tomorrow. I’ve always wanted to launch a non-profit that was aligned with the mission of Little Words Project but was specific to college-age girls. I feel strongly that it is then, that women must finally learn the importance of self-love and kindness in order to make their biggest possible impact in the world thereafter.
Carrig: The Block Organization is a non-profit that is focused on building communities of kind and self-confident female leaders across college campuses.
Through our research, we have found that women often experience feelings of inadequacy and isolation during their college years, which creates a reality where they are less likely to pursue opportunities in college and beyond. In fact, in a recent study by Dartmouth College, female leaders on college campuses were found to have GPA’s .23 higher than their male counterparts, yet self-rated themselves as less intelligent and less ambitions than those same male classmates.
It is our hope that we can make a difference in the minds of these young women through monthly meetings, confidence curriculum deployment, speaker series, mentor programs and more.
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