“Everyone can and should contribute to a cause that is important to them — because that’s how you can save the world, in your own way.” – Chloe Obico, This Bar Saves Lives
Through my give back adventures, I’ve had the honor of meeting some pretty amazing people.
One of those people is the lovely Chloe Obico, who has the fun job of spreading the word about This Bar Saves Live through Digital Marketing and PR. Not only is it a very tasty job (try the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter + Sea Salt – you’re welcome), she’s been able to see the direct results of their one for one initiative when the This Bar team took a volunteer trip to Haiti.
As this week’s #WCW Spotlight, Chloe shares her story and what inspired her to jumped head first into the world of social enterprise.
Me: During college, your focus was to pursue a career as a diplomat. Was there a specific moment that inspired you to shift your emphasis to social enterprise instead?
Chloe: In college I had a totally romanticized view of life as a diplomat — I would travel the world, help people in need, speak in front of the UN (I had lofty goals and an active imagination). Then, in the second semester of my junior year, a retired Foreign Service Officer spoke in one of my classes. I remember hearing him talk about the realities of being a diplomat — constantly moving, dealing with bureaucracy, the fact that you’ll probably be stamping passports inside of a consulate for a long time — and I realized that perhaps my dream job wasn’t my dream job after all. Not that FSOs aren’t important or can’t enact change — but it dawned on me that this politically driven way of changing the world wasn’t how I wanted to operate.
Social enterprises like TOMS and Warby Parker were starting to really pick up steam around this time, and I found the combination of business and giving back fascinating. If people are always going to be driven by consumer desires, why not use that as a force to good? So I turned toward social enterprise as a career option. Enter This Bar Saves Lives, and here I am today!
Me: When you decided to transition from diplomacy to social good, what was the “scariest” part? What about the most exciting part?
Chloe: At the time, the field of social enterprise itself was really young, and most of the companies I applied to were small start ups. Having to gamble on a company with an uncertain future was definitely the scariest thing. At the same time, when else would I get to enter a business on the ground floor and have a say in its growth and development (apart from starting my own business)? Having that amount of freedom and opportunity was extremely exciting.
Me: Has giving back always been a major theme in your life? Or something that came about later in life?
Chloe: I’ve been volunteering and doing my best to give back for as long as I can remember. And I really mean that — I started volunteering when I was a Brownie in 1st grade, and even though I never became a full fledged Girl Scout, I never really stopped giving back from there. I’ve organized blanket making events for homeless centers, hosted a bake sale for the Red Cross after the 2011 tsunami, and joined the community service fraternity in college.
One thing I’m pretty proud of is the high school senior project I did with my best friend. We had just seen The Cove and we decided to raise awareness about and take a stand against the annual dolphin killing/capture in Japan. We organized fundraisers, raised awareness at community events, and more. Also, we called ourselves “Students with a Porpoise,” which I still think is hilarious. Even though we didn’t make a huge dent in the fight against dolphin hunting, it felt so empowering to stand up for something we believed in, instead of doing nothing at all.
Me: You’ve been a part of This Bar Saves Lives from the very beginning, when everything happened over a kitchen table. What has been your favorite part of being on the team?
Chloe: Watching us grow has been incredible. This Bar started with 5 of us huddled around a kitchen table. We used to keep our bar inventory in Ravi’s bedroom closet. It was weird. Now, 3 years after I started working here, we’ve grown our team, moved into an actual office (this has been life changing), and donated over 1.5 million packets of life-saving food to kids in need. That’s enough to help save over 10,000 lives! Being a part of such an inspiring company and team from the very beginning has been amazing.
Me: What was it about This Bar Saves Lives and their mission that drew you to them?
Chloe: This Bar’s cause really resonated with me. Who would argue against giving malnourished children the medicine they need to survive? To me, that’s a basic human right… if you’re alive, you deserve every opportunity to thrive. I also found This Bar’s buy one, give one model to be more measurable and transparent than most other social enterprises’. Some companies say they donate 5% of their profits to certain causes — that’s great, but what does that look like in terms of actual numbers? With This Bar, I know exactly what I’m giving and how it’s impacting children around the world.
Me: When you started with the This Bar Saves Lives team, you were an intern. Now you are in charge of the Digital Marketing and PR. Can you share two achievements you’re most proud of?
Chloe: The first is definitely going from intern to a member of our core team. Even though I started out as an intern, it wasn’t easy to get to my current position in the company. It took a lot of tenacity just to be initially hired as the social media manager (if you don’t believe me, ask my mom about the months I spent unemployed back at home, desperately looking for a job). It took much more hard work and dedication to move up from there. But I think it goes to show that if you are passionate about something, you should never stop working for it.
The second achievement I’m most proud of is our one million celebration video, not only because it was incredible giving milestone for This Bar, but also because it was my project. I had complete creative freedom to come up with the concept, write the script, collect all of the assets — I did everything but edit the video. It’s a great feeling to really have ownership over something so important to our company, our community, and to myself personally.
Me: What has been the most surprising part of your adventures through This Bar Saves Lives? What about the most inspiring part?
Chloe: What hasn’t been surprising about my journey with This Bar? Honestly, the fact that we’ve lasted this long and continued to grow in a world full of bar companies blows my mind. It’s a testament to how much our community loves our delicious bars and is passionate about our cause. Which, coincidentally, is definitely the most inspiring part of being with This Bar. Our family is made up of thousands of people, and I can guarantee you that these people have different beliefs — political, religious, or otherwise. But they all agree with our cause — that all children should grow up happy and healthy. How inspiring is that??
Me: Not too long ago, the entire team took a trip to Haiti to volunteer with the non-profits you supply with Plumpy’Nut, thanks to your loyal consumers. How did this experience change the way you shared the mission behind the bars? Did it change you personally as well?
Chloe: That trip was so impactful, both in terms of my job and my own personal development. We met children who were undergoing treatment for malnutrition at Second Mile Haiti and others who had already recovered thanks to donations from our sales. Apart from being an incredible, once in a lifetime experience, that also means I’m able to tell much more personal stories about the children we help in Haiti, like Dalou.
Personally, our giving trip was a welcome reminder that our team really is helping save lives around the world. Working at This Bar is just like any other 9 to 5 job, and it can be easy to lose track of our mission and our fight against malnutrition when faced with the daily grind. To see these kids running and playing in front of me, when weeks before some of them couldn’t even stand, was so moving. I came back to LA with a renewed sense of purpose and powerfully inspiring memories that will stay with me forever.
Me: A new year always inspires people to set goal and create resolutions. What are some of the goals you’ve set for yourself this year?
Chloe: I always have my cliche “go to the gym more often” resolution. I have never stuck to it for more than 2 months, but hey, maybe this year! More realistically (and probably more fun), I’m challenging myself to really explore my interests. I think a lot of us have hobbies that fall to the wayside because we think we don’t have the time to pursue them. I’m pushing myself to make that time. Whether it’s hiking, picking up the guitar again, or reading more books, I want to spend more time going after what brings me joy. And I encourage you to join me! I promise you’ll be happier, and I’ve never met anyone who regretted taking more time to pursue their interests.
Me: What is the one piece of advice you would want to share with someone who wants to follow in your footsteps of using their own unique talents and life experiences to give back?
Chloe: If you’re looking at it as a big picture, “giving back” can seem like a daunting thing. It’s hard to know where to start. When I left for college, I told my mom that I wanted to “save the world.” That’s great, but when you’re speaking that broadly, it loses its meaning. So break it down. Do some self-reflection and find out what cause(s) make you want to get out of bed in the morning. Identify your personal strengths and figure out how you can apply them. Everyone can and should contribute to a cause that is important to them — because that’s how you can save the world, in your own way.
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