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Monika Wiela, the founder of Give Back Box, emigrated from Poland to the United States almost eleven years ago. At the time, she spoke no English, had no money and no idea what she was going to do. Although she faces her own challenges, she has been working to make life simple for others. In fact, a desire to change the world led her to where she is today.

Background

Wiela has worked hard to build a positive life in the United States from the very beginning. One of the first things she did was start a business having to do with something she enjoyed. A strong interest in fashion and a love for shoes, she started selling shoes online. Overall, in the years Wiela ran the business it was very successful. However, Wiela’s  role in business didn’t end there. This was the starting point for her next adventure.

In 2012,  Wiela began to re-evaluate her goals. Although she enjoyed making money because it was fun, it just wasn’t enough. She wanted to change the world and started thinking about how she could do so while selling shoes. Wiela was very inspired by TOMS and how they were the first company that was really giving back. She knew that she could do what TOMS was doing, but even better.

One day, Wiela was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago when she saw a homeless man holding a cardboard sign. The sign he was holding read “I need shoes”. Due to her wide collection of shoes, she knew she could help him. She later returned with a pair of shoes for the man, but he was gone.

When she saw the man’s sign, Wiela realized that this was a deeper message for her. There was a way that she could combine her love for fashion and desire to make a difference.

Putting A Plan Into Action

The next morning, she had an idea of how to get started. When she sent her customers their shoes, she would include a flyer and shipping label. On the flyer, she asked them to not throw away the box. Instead, her plan was to get them to reuse it by putting unused items such as clothes and shoes inside. Once they did so, she told her customers to send the filled box back to her. The items would be given new life by being given to those who need them most, the homeless.

After working with this idea for a while, Wiela visited a homeless shelter to share her idea. To make things simple on herself, she asked if she could put the shelter’s address on the labels. This would allow the boxes to come to the shelter without her needing delivering them.  Five weeks after she started, she received a phone call. A charity said they received their first five donation boxes and wanted her to come and open them. When she arrived and saw the first donations, she was moved to tears. The results left her with a question which helped spread her idea further. If the concept had worked for her small business, why wasn’t every online store in America doing the same thing? It was in this moment that the Give Back Box” around today was born.

Give Back Box

Wiela’s plan to get people to donate was simple. She did not focus on making people feel like they had to give things to others. Rather, she found a way to encourage busy people by making it easy to do so. By making the act simple, it can become a part of people’s routine. This makes it possible to spread happiness to those in need more commonly.  The difference of Give Back Box is it solves two issues that keep people from donating, time and money.

First of all, rather than driving to a location that accepts donations, people can leave boxes on their doorstep. All they need to do is go online and schedule a pickup time from the post office. After doing so, their mailman will drop by and pick up the box. Give Back Box gives people a simple way to donate goods to nonprofits without needing to leave their home.

Similarly, it doesn’t cost people anything to donate items. By including a free shipping label, people could send the box back at no cost to them. Also, the message to consumers is to find a  way to use boxes that they would only used once. If they recently bought an item online, they could use that box to pack up unused things.  However, people do not have to order from a business partner to donate, any box is acceptable.

A Simple Message

When reflecting on her journey, she feels things in life are more simple than they seem at first. In fact, Wiela believes she has stopped her own progress in the past by believing things were difficult. For example, when she first started she had no idea how she would make her plan work. Although she had an idea, it seemed like starting a business would be quite a challenge.

Some of the things that concerned her were that she did not have a business degree or connections. Also, she could not speak nor write English. Therefore, she did not know how she would get other companies on board with her idea. She encourages everyone to not give up or think that anything is impossible. Wiela learned that gaining business connections is literally about connecting with people. She believes you just need to find the one person who will listen to your ideas. Today, Give Back Box has several partners such as Amazon and Overstock.

Although she has done well, there is one quality she wishes she had more of as a business owner. Wiela feels the most important quality to have as a business owner is to have new ideas and constantly create. This is due to her belief that the world is only moving forward due to everyone’s ideas. However, she is not one to spend much time thinking about how she could have changed her past. Instead, in the future, she hopes to remember to see life as beautiful and not worry about any problem.

The Best Advice

Wiela works daily to live by the best advice she feels that she ever received. While others may think it is silly, that advice is to always be happy. She says you cannot run a successful business if you are not a happy person. Also, Wiela thinks being happy changes how people perceive you. For example, if you go into a business meeting smiling, it makes people like you and smile back.

While she knows life will always give problems, she thinks being positive makes a difference. She has found that being happy will help you succeed more in life faster. This is because it makes problems easier to overcome as opposed to depression or anxiety.

You can get started making a difference today. Visit Give Back Box online to get started on spreading happiness.

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