Dreamer Spotlight- Brit Moore Gilmore- President of The Giving Keys
I am over the moon to share a slice of this dreamer's journey! Brit Moore Gilmore is the President of The Giving Keys, and is truly incredible. Not only does Brit dream big, she helps facilitate those dreams into creation with her tenacious spirit and work ethic. When Brit and I had dinner one night, I remember her explaining the night she knew what she wanted to do, and I had chills up and down my spine. Her eyes lit up as she told the story, and it's one of those moments where you think to yourself here's someone who's truly living out her purpose and making a
If you've not heard of
before, it's an incredible brand started by
where keys are inscribed with a word on them by those
The key is meant to empower/inspire the one wearing the key. Then, when that person feels someone else needs that message more than them, they can give it to them. I've received 2 Giving Keys and they are my favorite gifts I've ever received, because the friends that gave them to me had such powerful stories on why they were giving me that word and why they were once given that key. Watch more about the mission here:
When we had dinner, you told me a story about how you knew what you wanted to do, and it gave me chills. Can you recap that moment:
Since I was 18 I knew I wanted to have a career where fashion and philanthropy worked together. When I was in college I studied abroad in London at the American Intercontinental University as a part of the fashion design program. One day on the Tube I saw a magazine on the seat next to me and cracked it open to an article about Ali Hewson, Bono’s wife, and the ethical clothing company they had started called EDUN. I read the article and started crying all by myself sitting on that train because for the first time I was seeing a model that merged fashion and philanthropy. This was in 2006 before TOMS and before this wave we know as social enterprise had entered the mainstream. When I read that article I felt like I finally had language for what I was aiming for - it was in that moment that the direction for my life became really clear. Thank you to whoever left that magazine on that seat!
What did you want to be when you were little and what did you study in college?
When I was little I wanted to be a pediatrician - ha! I studied Fashion Design and Apparel Industry Management in college.
What was the process like getting to Giving Keys? What were you doing before?
After graduating from my first college program, I started designing and selling my own clothes in the Detroit area. At the same time, I also did office administration, sewing and pattern making for a small run apparel manufacturer in downtown Detroit. I taught dance and fashion programs in Detroit Public schools and worked as a fashion journalist for Real Detroit Weekly and Angela’s Eye. At a certain point I knew I wanted to move to LA or NY and go back to school to do a more business-oriented program. I chose LA and did the program at FIDM while working a wide variety of different jobs in the fashion industry. I wanted to get a taste for everything. I worked as a celebrity wardrobe stylist in lead and asst. capacities (worked with Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Emily Ratajkowski, James Marsden, Nichole Scherzinger, etc), Visual Merchandiser for Club Monaco, Store Manager for Fluxus, showroom intern at T&A, Ecom, Social Media and Wholesale Manager at Skingraft and Assoc. Women’s Buyer for LuxeYard. I was doing a blog project on the side called the LA Virgin — I got a taste of it allllllllll. While I was working at Skingraft I met Caitlin through my roommate who had known her for 10 years+. The Giving Keys was in its super early days and Caitlin was running everything by herself. She reached out to me a few times for questions about showrooms and contracts and then, serendipitously, on the same day that my employer laid off 35 of 50 people, I got a text from Caitlin saying that her Production Manager had put in their two weeks and she wanted to know if I knew anyone. Although I didn’t lose my job, I knew my days at my current job were numbered, and more importantly, The Giving Keys was so aligned with my heart and passions that it just made sense to take the leap. I started the next week and here I am 3 and half years later! It’s astounding to see how far we’ve come.
Brit and founder Caitlin
At the time Giving Keys was small, just Caitlin if I remember correctly, what made you want to commit to the brand?
I think most everyone wants to be a part of something that creates good in the world and improves peoples lives. We spend the majority of our time at work, we better be proud of what we’re creating. Getting to come to a place everyday where lives are getting restored, where it’s not just about making money, but making a difference, creating products that inspire and remind people to be strong, courageous, fe
arless and hopeful — it’s so easy to commit to that vision!
What Caitlin has created is truly remarkable. Ca
n you tell I love my job?
It’s clear that The Giving Keys is successful and so well known, but like any company it started out small, what was the hardest thing about helping it grow into what it is today?
Honestly the hands down hardest part of that journey has been experiencing the business grow beyond some of our team’s capacity and knowing that we needed to hire people with more experience to handle the growth. The strategies, the budgets, the photoshoots, the website development, that’s the easy stuff. Letting people go or hiring over them - that’s brutal. I wish no one ever had to have one of those conversations.
The Giving Keys has such an incredible “give-back” model, but it’s not just a model it’s the way the business is run, what’s something that sticks out to you, where you felt “wow this is what giving keys is all about.”
The most recent time was when one of our Production staff told us his life story at one of our ‘Lunch & Learns’. Getting to hear him share about where he came from and his vision for where he’s headed has us all in tears. That’s why we do this.
If you could go back 5 years and give yourself advice career wise, what would you tell yourself?
Spend more time learning about accounting! It’s great to have other people that can be the experts, but I wish I would have been more invested in learning that side for myself.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or something someone has said that has really stuck with you?
Don’t wait to figure it all out before you start. Just start. I didn’t know what it would look like to have a job where fashion and philanthropy merged, but I knew that was the horizon I was looking towards. I just walked in that direction and it landed me in the best place. We didn’t know that The Giving Keys would be be what it is today but we knew we wanted to spread inspiration and hope and we walked in that direction and it landed us here.
What’s been the most rewarding part of following your dreams?
So many rewards! I’d say the deepest, most important one to me is feeling that I’m operating in my true purpose. That’s an incredible feeling, and a hard one to describe, but I just feel a lot of peace. And of course, hearing all the stories of hope and transformation from our staff and the wearers of our keys, that’s the true pay off.
Yes, that's Ryan Gosling wearing a Giving Key.
How has the Giving Keys stretched your dreams? How have you seen Giving Keys stretch and grow others dreams?
The Giving Keys has stretched my dreams to believe that we can really end homelessness in LA - that it’s possible with the right mix of ideas and people. I used to get overwhelmed by the numbers and now that we’re a part of the conversation, I think it’s totally possible. And yes – I have definitely seen it stretch and grow our staff’s dreams. For example – just today one employee shared about his journey of dreaming (and achieving) of going from sleeping on a bus stop bench, to renting his own room in a house, and now he is dreaming about becoming a professional inventor.
Having your potential called out by those around you is a powerful and transformative force.
Anything else you want to add about your career journey, dreaming big, advice to girls looking to follow a path like yours?
Get around people that challenge you and have the ability to understand you. If you’re going hard after your passion the best way to navigate that journey is in community and hopefully that community has several people in it that are farther down the path than you to teach you. I’m so thankful for mentors that have in a sense cleared the path for me - I love learning from them. And I’m so grateful for a husband that works in social enterprise as well (for TOMS) who understands why I’ve given my life to this path and cheers me on in the journey.