by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Next up is another profile of a firm featured in the new eBook I produced with A Billion+Change and Riggs Partners for #GivingTuesday.  These write ups are being featured one by one with permission from the eBook team.

Mizzen+Main – the classic American-made clothier for athletic professionals that elevates their innovative lifestyles.

Our story — Six years ago, while working in Washington, D.C., in the summer heat, Kevin Lavelle watched a staffer run into a very important meeting – soaked in sweat.  The staffer was a mess.  His shirt had turned two different colors and was sticking to him.  Here was a guy making a name for himself on Capitol Hill, but he looked terrible.  It took an hour for his shirt to dry, leaving him wrinkled and disheveled. About this time, collared performance shirts were becoming popular for golf and tennis, which helped spark the idea for a moisture-wicking dress shirt.  Mizzen+Main was born.

Why we’re unique — Mizzen+Main proudly manufactures our dress shirts in the United States, working with suppliers, sewing shops and distributors across the country.  From the material to the stitching and finishing, every detail that goes into our shirts is designed to benefit our country’s resurgence as a textile manufacturing power.  Our founder, Kevin Lavelle has always admired and respected servicemen and women, who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way defending the United States.  Mizzen+Main has adopted this focus, putting its give-back energy into helping veterans through volunteerism, hiring and by donating percentage of all sales to wounded veterans.  We think of this as “A Shirt for a Start.” 

Our skills-based volunteerism — Mizzen+Main leverages its employees’ skills to help former servicemen and women, working specifically with veterans’ service organizations with a focus on training and career development.  We aim to help veterans get experience, contacts and references they need to successfully make the transition from the military to their next careers.  As an example, Kevin and others volunteer their time and experience to speak with veterans about such topics as entrepreneurship and marketing, both presenting information and spending time answering the specific questions unique to someone coming out of the military.  Under his leadership, we are expanding our skills-based volunteerism program by launching an internship program that provides veterans on-the-job training and exposure to the world of startups.

Our challenges — There are a lot of veterans’ organizations, but even with so many offering services, our former servicemen and women aren’t getting all of their needs met.  Our challenge is to determine how to fit into what might seem like a crowded market while providing unique services our veterans need.  There are thousands of veterans here in our community with a wealth of experience who need a bit of help getting started on their careers.

How serving helps our business — Our focus on career development for veterans has become intertwined with the culture and purpose of the company.  In addition to providing a core value around this concept, our commitment to veterans has led us to hire one former serviceman (so far), who is the arguably one of the hardest working people on the team.  So in a cool way, we are benefiting as a company from the way we give back.  We have also have formed partnerships with various veterans’ service organizations as we seek to find unique ways for our people to engage the general public and veterans’ communities to raise awareness and encourage others to make their voices heard.  This all results in a strong, unified, happy work culture committed to doing good.

Advice for other businesses interested in skills-based volunteerism — Find something that you are passionate about – and seek out opportunities that both suit your business goals and support your community.

Want to learn more?  Contact Jen Lavelle, Marketing Director.

Rachel Hutchisson (@RachelHutchssn) is VP, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy at Blackbaud, Inc., a 2,700-person technology company that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations. She built the company’s “give back” function from the ground up, relying on expertise she gained in over two decades of working at the intersection of the business world and the nonprofit sector. Rachel is a member of the #GivingTuesday core advisory team, leads her company’s involvement in the Billion+Change pro-bono initiative, and serves on the boards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals International, The Giving Institute, and the Coastal Community Foundation. She is also a member of the core team that launched TEDxCharleston in 2013. She is a graduate of Dickinson College and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.



Leave a Reply