When Kerry Feltner of the Waltham Tribune called to speak with us about Serve Kindness, we were thrilled to talk about our local business and new space. Our "warehouse" may only be 265 square feet, but it is huge to us since we no longer have to store bowls in our basement! We're so grateful to house, pack and ship our bowls from our new location on Bear Hill Road.
by Kerry Feltner, Waltham Tribune, September 24, 2019
How is kindness best served?
In a vibrantly colored, handmade glass bowl, according to Melissa Brooks and Jillian Darling.
The long-time friends and now co-founders and business partners started Serve Kindness, a company that connects a handmade product—the company’s signature glass bowls—to customers while simultaneously connecting those customers to nonprofits in their community.
“We know that kindness kind of replicates itself,” Darling said. “It has a ripple effect. The smallest actions can actually have effects in a community or in a family.”
“Kindness is not going anywhere,” Brooks said.
Every time a bowl is purchased, 10 percent of that purchase supports a nonprofit. The company prides itself on intentional purchases.
“There is that double meaning—the mission has really just hit home with so many of our customers,” Melissa said. “It’s not just an object, it’s an object that has a purpose. It’s a gift that gives back.”
When a customer is given an option to be kind—to give to a charity—they take it. Providing that link is what continues to drive the business forward, the co-founders say.
The business’ website officially went live in January 2018. They recently opened a warehouse in Waltham to store their inventory. Both founders live in Lincoln.
On Aug. 5, the company was featured in Boston Magazine’s Home Design section.
Darling was previously involved in the Fintech space, helping startups find their way, but she found it wasn’t the space for her. Spending hours upon end at a computer, she was ready to dictate her own schedule and future.
Brooks was previously part of the art auction world in New York, but spent the last two decades raising her children.
Both were ready to start a new chapter. Two years later, they have found their footing. Today the company’s biggest challenge is finding the right person to hire.
The company offers 20-25 colors of its glass bowls, ones that are sized from small to extra large. Each bowl starts at $45 and 10 percent of each purchase goes to a charity of choice for the customer.
“We wanted to do a bowl because it’s such a symbol of serving and sharing,” Darling said. “The other reason why we really like a bowl is because a bowl is used in every culture on the planet.”
The bowls are hand-blown by James McLeod and his team at the Bubble Factory in Essex, MA.
Serve Kindness’ charities selected are mostly based in Massachusetts or the New England region with a few exceptions. The business supports a variety of nonprofits including The Food Project, Lucy’s Love Bus, Boston Bullpen Project, Falmouth Service Center, and Buddy Dog.
“I think for them it’s really great to get a check every quarter that they didn’t really have to work super hard for. It goes into their general fund, which is usually really hard to raise money for anyways,” Darling said.
What has surprised Brooks is the reception so far, she says.
For Darling, starting a business outside of the Fintech space has never felt better. She is happy to be controlling the pace this time, she says.
“I think my biggest surprise is that I’m not stressed,” she said. “Starting a new business from zero, I’ve done it before, [and] I’ve always had this undercurrent of stress or anxiety. I think because what we’re doing just feels so right it feels so good.”
Kindness takes on many forms. For Serve Kindness, the goal is to help customers see a new way of doing business: one that focuses on charitable giving and the wider community from the start.
“You can do a kind act, you can shop locally, you can shop for something that’s handmade, you can give back, you can think intentionally so for us a lot of this is about intentional consumerism,” Darling said. “There’s always a need of it [kindness] no matter what the climate. It does not go out of style. Ever.”