How does it feel to start a social enterprise? How political can you be?

How does it feel to start a social enterprise? How political can you be?

Here at??LimeRed, were political. We stand up for justice. We march, we tweet, we make phone calls. We make signs and sign things. We talk, plan and build. We advocate for marginalized populations in our work and bring people together. We create systems that make change, and we help people communicate their value and ideas. How does it feel to start a social enterprise that does this?

We show up: For each other, our clients, and for what we believe in.

We all have feelings we work through, causes we fight for, beliefs we stand up for, ideas we build on, and issues that challenge us. Lately, LimeRed has been getting more and more publicly vocal about issues outside of UX, design, startups and social enterprise. Were finding our voice, and we are proud of it.

On a personal level, I am happy to lead this business to be a catalyst to move ideas forward and create change. In fact, that is exactly how LimeRed began 13 years ago.

I started LimeRed in 2004 while working at a small marketing agency. It wasnt a terrible job, but I had been active in the anti-war and progressive movements for a while, and the job was just the thing I did during the day to fund my volunteering. I art-directed a progressive print newspaper, worked with Chicago Indymedia, among others.

After a while of this robin-hooding, I started struggling with pretty bad panic attacks. I wasnt sure what was causing them, between working pretty much all the time and being wrapped up in politics (which at that time seemed like the worst it could ever get). So I went on anti-anxiety medication, and the clouds parted.

I realized robin-hooding wasnt enough. I couldn’t bring myself to sit in one more consumer products marketing meeting to try to sell manufactured garbage with manufactured garbage marketing. It didnt do anyone any service other than the guys at the top of the pyramid making the money.

So I quit.

I had one client, a computer, and an apartment in Uptown. And two cats.

I decided to dedicate my professional life to promoting things that matter. The road was winding??during the next decade, and I cant say its been enjoyable or easy all the time. I had no business experience. I was 26 and faced some serious issues as a woman starting in business. When I started LimeRed, mission-based businesses and B Corporations werent a thing. I had no financial support, no mentor, no benefactor. But that initial spark was enough to ignite a fire that has kept burning for 13 years.

In the context of all that is happening politically, weve made a natural move to reclaim the roots of LimeRed: We make things better – not just for our clients, but for our community and our world.

We are powerful and the time is now

Designers, UX designers, social entrepreneurs, marketers, and like folks your skills have never been more important or more needed than now. As communicators, we hold a serious amount of power. The companies and people who hire and employ us do so because we are great at getting large numbers of people to rally around a cause, sign up for something, invest money somewhere, and inspire others to do the same. Were the idea translators and catalysts for big movements.

A lot of people have approached me who are in??the same situation that I was back in 2004. You may have a job you are not totally in love with. You may want to make more of a difference. You may feel the same stress that I did back in 2004. You may be facing serious setbacks or challenges. You may be experiencing oppression in many forms. But remember three things when you start a social enterprise:

  1. You dont have to go big, but you have to do something. Even if its a small weekly act of kindness, the little things add up.
  2. Your network that you build will be invaluable. You will attract the kind of support that you put out there, so dont be a jerk or youll be surrounded by jerks.
  3. Stay true to the spark that has been ignited in you. It will get you through the times that arent so shiny.

You can do it and we can??help you.

Speak up, speak out

This is our lucky 13th year. Were going to spend it making internal systems more efficient, building amazing products that knock down walls, transforming brands, and speaking truth to power.

Nevertheless, she persisted. And so will we.
PS: We have a new website. Kinda forgot about telling you that. 🙂

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