Pay it Forward With a ‘Giving Key’
A key has the power to open so many different doors—especially the door to employment, a new home and even to a new life. By spreading love through fashion necklaces, The Giving Keys helps to employ those transitioning out of homelessness while bestowing positivity and hope upon others.
The to-do list is simple: wear a key, pay it forward and tell the story. When the owner of the key encounters someone else in need of the key’s message, they give it away and then blog the story of why they gave it away on The Giving Keys’ website.
Founded by actress and singer/songwriter Caitlin Crosby in 2010, this charitable jewelry line sells necklaces created to offer both style and a sense of optimism. Each one-of-a-kind key necklace is unique in its own way and carries a message such as Hope, Strength, Courage and Dream.
The Giving Keys charity started with one little New York City hotel room key.
Crosby wore this key as a necklace, which gave her an interesting and inspirational product idea to sell at the merchandise tables during her next music tour. Between each song, she would tell her audience to embrace their flaws by buying and wearing a key necklace as their sign of self-acceptance. As she traveled state to state during her tour, she sold old, used keys engraved by an LA locksmith with inspirational words. Her trendy and unique key necklaces kept selling out. She was scrambling to find more keys and the hot idea was becoming a bit more than she could handle.
With a strengthening and growing group of supporters and believers in the keys, Crosby began to realize that everyone is like a key: unique, flawed, scarred and at risk of being discarded. After Crosby noticed that these keys were turning into stories, she desperately wanted to add a charitable dimension to her new business model.
“I started collecting all of these old keys and mixing and matching them with old chains and I started selling them on tour […] Every night they would sell out more than everything else […] I want it to be a reminder to you that you’re one of a kind. We’re all one of a kind just like these necklaces,” said Crosby.
The Giving Keys charitable jewelry line started directly after Crosby watched the famous documentary, “Invisible Children.” After leaving the theatre and walking out onto Hollywood Boulevard full of emotion, she witnessed a young couple sitting on the sidewalk under an umbrella holding a sign that read, “Ugly, Broke & Hungry.” Crosby immediately knew that Rob and Cera were the missing piece to her puzzle. After hearing their story of living off the streets, Crosby asked the homeless couple to be her business partners the following day. She replaced her LA locksmith with the couple and got them set up at camp to engrave keys with a hammer and an engraving kit. Rob and Cera are now employed and setting the standard for what the charity was to become next.
“I started hearing these stories and I’m like I want to be smart about this and make this a different, cool thing and came up with that whole pay it forward concept […] Now we have all these stories of keys all over the world,” Crosby said.
The Giving Keys has since teamed up with the United Way and PATH, both reputable transitional homes in Los Angeles. Those staying at these partnering housing facilities help The Giving Keys by adding members to the engraving team. Currently, The Giving Keys has employed over 15 people trying to transition out of homelessness, while also helping them to open bank accounts and providing them with financial planning support. Just from key sales, a good number of the engraving team has now earned enough money to get their own apartment and support themselves. All proceeds from keys go to keeping these inspirational people off the streets, in transitional homes and on the road to a better and more independent life.
The keys are now sold in over 200 stores across the U.S., internationally and even at high-end fashion stores like Fred Segal, Kitson and Opening Ceremony.
These keys stamped with love are now sold and shared all around the world. Crosby and The Giving Keys team plans to expand even more and continue to create more employment opportunities.
To shop and learn more about The Giving Keys, visit www.TheGivingKeys.com.