FriendLilySHOP– The story as told by founder, Jim Riches
FriendLilySHOP came to fruition during a conversation with a lifelong friend and veteran of the charitable sector. The conversation had a simple question: Is there a way to make it easier to contribute to charities? An old proverb gave the answer;
“There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out”.
I needed to find out how I could help make it easier for everyone to contribute to charities without hassle, and almost without a thought. I didn’t know how to, but I was set on finding out.
Over the years I had worked with numerous charities and was on the Hamilton Board of The Kidney Foundation. I have seen first hand, the work charities do and the good they create which was a source of inspiration. Having worked closely with this sector, I knew most charities were benefiting their local communities. They were, however, limited on what they could accomplish due to a lack of funding. Imagine what good they could accomplish with just a little more help.
FriendLilySHOP was born to provide just that, a little more help, but how much would 10-12% of a purchase really help? Well, in 2019, the number of Canadians who had made a purchase online was 28.1 million. If every one of those individuals spent just $10.00 on FriendLilySHOP.com, a minimum of $28,100,000 in donations would have been made to charities all across Canada. Every transaction helps, no matter how small.
As my journey developing FriendLilySHOP began, my mother was diagnosed with kidney disease. This was years after my time on the Hamilton Board, just one of lifes strange coincidences. When you see firsthand what a charitable organization can do to improve the quality of life during a tough period for a loved one, you feel grateful and determined to make sure others will have the same benefits when needed.
As the planning was still taking shape, I remembered what my father had told me decades earlier in regards to the symbiotic relationship between businesses and charities. In his mind, charities and business, though they both operate differently, both need their communities’ support to thrive. So enters the second player in this mission, other local, small businesses!
My father was a small business owner in Hamilton, ON and was motivated to help local, charitable initiatives because he saw the direct benefits in his community, the community that supported his own business. He was adamant about purchasing all he could from other local businesses to show his own support and give back what the community gave him. His resolve for local businesses was especially clear when he almost disowned me when I purchased my grade 12 graduation suit from another city (the only redeeming quality was that it had been produced in Canada).
I myself, started a business in university and can empathize with burgeoning entrepreneurs and their effort to become established. FriendLilySHOP was designed to include informative videos of both supply partners and charities, so they can tell their stories and grow themselves just as their community grows.
Small Canadian businesses make up the largest percentage of businesses and are the largest employers in Canada. We all saw how hard these businesses were hit in 2020 and continue to fight through 2021. I thought about how FriendLilySHOP could help support this huge percentage of the business market while other avenues of support seem to be failing them. What if their products were taken from the brick and mortar storefront in Peterborough, Ontario, Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Moncton or New Brunswick and added to a digital storefront available nationwide? I knew that selling their products would not only raise funds for the charities but help sustain growth and add jobs to local communities and, if we could couple that with giving back to charities, how could we go wrong?
Consumers who visit the site will hear from charities who are tackling problems in their communities and be introduced to the local businesses nationwide who are the economic backbone of said communities.
FriendLilySHOP does make contributing easier. It presents uplifting stories and curated products to consumers, who just have to make purchases of everyday items they’re already buying and then select the charity they wish to support. Each purchase made on FriendLilySHOP.com benefits local charities, local businesses, and the consumers alike. It’s an easy, hassle free process for everyone involved.
We’re all friends at FriendLilySHOP. After all, unity shapes community.