Caitlin Crosby: Unlocking a Giving Business

July 8 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Love is the Key

I first really understood the meaning of empathy when we were reading To Kill a Mockingbird in my high-school English class. The dictionary describes “empathy” as being able to understand how someone else is feeling.

A lot of times, we may think we understand how someone else is feeling, and then we find out we were dead wrong. Empathy is something that comes naturally for many, but it can also be difficult to conjure up, especially if the person you’re trying to empathize with isn’t your favorite person. Today, keep an open mind as you listen to someone else’s story.


Do you give a certain amount of money each year to your favorite charity, or do you give only when the mood strikes you?

It turns out we are a pretty giving nation. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, U.S. households in 2014 gave an average of $2,974. Overall, Americans gave $358.38 billion that same year. That’s a heck of a lot of charitable giving! And it’s a 7.1 percent increase from the previous year.

Much of this funding went to some of women’s favorite types of charitable organizations, including those involved in education, health and human services.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Caitlin Crosby, Founder of The Giving Keys

Caitlin Crosby grew up with showbiz on the mind. Her dad manages actors, and her mom was a model and actress before becoming an agent, so Crosby came by her talents naturally. As a high-schooler, she portrayed Sandy in everyone’s favorite 1950s-set high-school musical, Grease, and joined an all-girl pop band called Foxy Nova. Crosby was naturally drawn to writing songs about empowerment and self-esteem, but the label guys wouldn’t have it. They wanted something that fit the stereotype of an all-girl pop band.

That experience left a bad taste in Crosby’s mouth, and she quit the music business to pursue school. But she never stopped writing songs and eventually released an album called Flawz with her own original music, and landed a record deal.

This true-to-herself entrepreneur then launched a campaign with Oscar-Award-winning actress Brie Larson called LoveYourFlawz. The website includes photos of participants who embrace their so-called flaws by posing with notes that say something positive about their flaws, like, “I love my scar,” or, “My imperfections make me who I am.”

Crosby, who often wore an old New York hotel-room key as a necklace, got the idea to start inscribing old, used keys with inspirational words. She realized keys are a lot like people: They have flaws, are scarred and are often lost or tossed aside. She made more key necklaces and started selling them at her merchandise table at concerts. And that idea grew into something even bigger.

With her necklace in mind, at only 24 years old, Crosby started The Giving Keys, an organization that employs people who are transitioning out of homelessness. They make jewelry out of repurposed keys, each engraved with a message like “Hope,” “Strength,” “Fearless” or “Courage.”

As if that isn’t cool enough, if you wear the key and run into someone who could really use the sentiment, Crosby encourages you to give it to them. It’s a way to spread positivity and pay it forward.

The Giving Keys has employed dozens of people struggling with homelessness, and has helped dozens more find permanent housing. Check out the website and read firsthand accounts of how The Giving Keys changed these individuals’ lives. Now, these keys are in nearly 2,000 stores worldwide, including Anthropologie and Nordstrom.

What’s monumental about Crosby is that by staying true to herself, she’s found her way in life and changed the lives of so many others for good.


This quote by Winston Churchill couldn’t be more perfect. He said:

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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