From Dealing with Cancer to Changing the World: Ripple Design with Gianfranco Filice
1. Who? Who are the key players — your company, anyone else involved with the product? Who does your news affect/who does it benefit?
My name is Gianfranco Filice and I am the founder of Ripple. I work with a small group of high school students who work the day-to-day operations for Ripple. We have an international team of designers whom we work with. All of our products each have a metric that defines the impact that it makes in helping humanitarian issues.
2. What is new about your brand?
Ripple is a social enterprise start-up. We create clothing that makes a difference. For each shirt we sell, we donate a portion of our profits to a partnered nonprofit. In exchange, we apply an impact metric to all our clothing. For example, we have a design that showcases homelessness and with each shirt purchased, 20 children are given emergency meals in Africa. We sell an array of American Apparel each designed with creative artwork from designers around the world. Each design showcases a particular cause for which the shirt benefits. What’s also new is that the company is founded and run by passionate high school students looking to inspire others to make a difference.
3. Why is this important news — how is it different?
This is important because the company was started as a response to Gianfranco’s mother undergoing stage-four stomach cancer. The situation allowed Gianfranco that ability to understand that life is fragile, and if you want to make a difference in the world you need to go out and create the opportunity, not wait for it. Through this mentality, Ripple was created.
4. Where is your brand based?
Ripple is based in Gilroy, California. About an hour south of San Francisco. Thanks to the internet, Ripple’s reach is global.
5. What is the timing of this? Does this add significance?
Ripple was founded in 2012 and officially launched three years later in November 2015. It launched through a successful Kickstarter campaign (bit.ly/rippleKS).
6. How did this come about?
All of this occurred through mentorship and a passion for making the world a better place. Ripple benefited from SCORE, a free business mentorship program provided through the Small Business Administration which helped pave the way in terms of the company’s direction. The rest came through trial and error and a lot of error at that.
7. Why fashion?
Our target market is millennials (ages 15 to 34). We determined that the best way to attract this market is to target where they spend the most money: clothing. We also found that fashion would be the best way to create word of mouth awareness about Ripple’s mission. Each product allows each clothing wearer to become a “walking poster” creating awareness of major issues and the Ripple brand.
8. What is the biggest highlight of your career to date? Why?
The biggest highlight of my career was how after four years of working on Ripple, the company had enough funding to feed 500 people in Zimbabwe, build a water-well in Haryana Village, India serving 250 people and provide 60 hours of service dog training to people with disabilities. All the heartache and sacrifice became worth it once those accomplishments occurred.
9. What are your key weaknesses / development areas? What are you doing about them?
One of Ripple’s weak development areas is marketing. Once we started the company, we had to go back to square one and learn how to run a company and a lot of that had to do with generating marketing sales. Currently, Ripple is working on a lot of word of mouth marketing as well as social media marketing. An emerging field for us is blogging which we are slowly improving.
10. What sets your tees apart from its competitors?
All of our clothing is made from American Apparel fabric. First, we only use the highest quality fabric available. Second, all of our products go toward making a difference in the world. You get a great product and you contribute to making an impact on society through purchasing our products!
11. How would you describe your personality and working style?
My personality is very formal, understanding and easy going. My working style is really dependent on my long-term strategy. I like to focus on the things that will pay off in the long run and have short-run pay-offs be completed by other people on my team. I like to think myself as a motivator for my team and someone who inspires others to go the extra mile.