Meet Kacie Gonzalez! She is the Founder/COO of Orange Harp, an awesome new app where you can find socially conscious products. With a focus on the story behind their brands, Orange Harp curates clothing, skin care, accessories and home goods for people who love quality, artisanal and natural products made consciously. Here at SERENE, we are inspired by the visionary and entrepreneurial spirit of Orange Harp. Catch a glimpse of what it takes to create a sustainable start up from Kacie!
How do you describe the philosophy of Orange Harp? What is the vision and the mission?
The philosophy of Orange Harp is to show that we can all be more mindful in how we choose to shop without having to sacrifice quality or style. I think there is this preconceived notion that conscious goods tend to only appeal to a certain sector of the population, and we at Orange Harp aim to create a beautiful shopping experience that dispels that notion.
Our mission is to connect incredible makers to individuals in an effort to make conscious the norm. We believe that every item you purchase tells a story, and we built Orange Harp to allow makers an opportunity to share their mission with individuals across the globe.
What inspired you to start Orange Harp?
It really started when Anbu and I both identified the discovery problem. We are both conscious consumers and we realized how difficult it was to find these products in one place. I’m a lawyer, and I’ve been extensively trained to do research efficiently, and I found finding which of these products was right for me was a very inefficient way to spend my time! We started Orange Harp to bring all these products together in one place and make the lives of our users easier.
What were you doing before Orange Harp?
I’m trained as an attorney specializing in Intellectual Property, and my last job before Orange Harp was running the Customer Development program at the Alchemist Accelerator here in San Francisco.
What did you need to overcome to make Orange Harp a reality? Did you have doubts or fears?
I think everyone has a little bit of fear when they start a company. There is always this fear that you’re going to run out of money, you won’t get enough users, you won’t scale, etc. So many things could go wrong, but if everyone let those fears get the best of them there wouldn’t be so many great companies. I think letting go of that, and focusing on what you can control is much more important and a better use of time.
Tell us about the process of sourcing conscious products for Orange Harp. What are the challenges? What are the rewards?
It really starts with an enormous chunk of research. Once I find a product or maker that seems to fit our criteria, I’ll start the conversation and I’ve flown out to almost every one of our partners to make sure not only the product meets our standards, but the work environment as well.
The biggest challenges lie in the initial discovery. Once that happens, things are bit easier. The biggest reward to me is getting to know our partners, collaborating with them, and launching them on the app. Our missions are all aligned, and it’s incredibly rewarding to work with fantastic people who believe what we believe.
How do you envision the future? How will values and lifestyles shift? How will business and commerce shift?
I hope companies like Orange Harp create more awareness around the subject of conscious living. I think Whole Foods has done an amazing job educating people about healthy eating, and look, Safeway and other grocery stores now carry organic food because people have demanded it. I hope once people see how amazing the products on the app are, they will start to demand more transparency in how their clothing and makeup are made. At the end of the day, it’s what you live your life in and what you put on your body should be just as important as what you put into your body.
What is your favorite Orange Harp product? And what is the story behind the maker/designer?
That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child! I have an emotional connection to all our brands, but I have to say there is a special place in my Texan heart for the burnt orange Judd socks from Mitscoots. It’s a company out of Austin started by my former neighbor at the University of Texas. For every pair sold, they give one to someone in need, and actually employ the homeless to package the socks. Hook ‘Em!
What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Just go for it. Yes, there are going to be people that will shoot your idea down and make you feel like you shouldn’t be going after this. If it’s your true passion, go for it. Be sure to surround yourself with an amazing team that shares your vision and have a list of resources you can go to with any questions.