When learning the concept of a new company, one might wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And that notion describes our thoughts on Hannah Davis, founder and president of BANGS Shoes. BANGS means help in Mandarin, because BANGS Shoes helps start business all over the world.
Davis was figuring out what she wanted to do in life when the idea dawned on her. “I was 22 when I came up with the idea for BANGS Shoes, at that age when people have a strong sense of idealism and the world is at your fingertips.” After gaining experience as a collegiate brand ambassador and seeing economical problems throughout the world, she wanted to make a positive impact on the global economy.
“Starting my company stemmed from my pull to want to make the world a better place.” Davis took action by creating a business model that strengthens local economies and supports entrepreneurs. BANGS invests 20% of net profits with micro-finance organizations who distribute small loans to help people start businesses in the US and around the world.
Hannah Davis. Photographed by Mariah Channing.
At Clemson, Davis studied abroad and fell in love with traveling. Davis also was a brand ambassador for Feel Good, a 100% nonprofit organization and an autonomous ambassador program all in one. Students who are Feel Good ambassadors ultimately raise money that was invested in organizations designed to eradicate hunger. According to Davis, the experience was invaluable, because it taught her not only the importance of philanthropy, but also the intricacies of how to build a business from the ground up. She explained further how it inspired her and fellow students, “This ambassador model is super effective in reaching people who want to make a difference.”
So after graduation, when the economy was spiraling downward and kids in top universities couldn’t land jobs, she signed a contract to teach English in China and attend law school after teaching. However, teaching in China changed the course of her life forever, because the sight of widespread poverty struck her. This caused her to think how she could make a difference in the lives of people all over the world.
In China, Davis also noticed that many middle-class workers wore the same type of military canvas shoes. These shoes were all in the same olive green monochromatic design, and she found the look fascinating. In fact, so much, that she used the design as inspiration for her own products under BANGS Shoes.
For this particular company, the planning and designing magic happens in Brooklyn, New York for several reasons. Like many successful businesses, the company is consciously thriving in the big apple. Davis noted several of the reasons behind their location, “There are just so many resources in New York; press, graphic designers, photographers.” What else would one need?
Since Davis was born and raised and currently works on the east coast, most of the BANGS Shoes following is eastward. But like any business owner starting in the east, she is aiming for westward expansion. This will widen the reach of BANGS Shoes within the United States and overseas, making their positive impact even greater.
Building a company requires blood, sweat and tears. And thinking back on her journey, Davis surmises, “It’s okay to ask for help, and you should ask for help every chance you get. A lot of people don’t want to ask for help because they feel like they’re being a burden. There are a million excuses for why you shouldn’t ask for help. I would encourage entrepreneurs to identify what they’re not good at, and ask for help in areas where they’re not the strongest.” Well said. If that isn’t inspiring enough to make you follow your dreams, Davis has profound advice to young professionals, “It’s never going to be perfect. Just do it.”