In February, I had the amazing opportunity to lead a Lunch & Learn session about Plan International USA for ALEX AND ANI staff. ALEX AND ANI bracelets are a staple accessory for my outfits (I asked for more bangles for both my birthday and Christmas this year!)…so you can imagine my excitement when I found out I would be flying to the company’s headquarters in Cranston, Rhode Island to share more about my role with Plan and the impact of our partnership together!
The ALEX AND ANI CHARITY BY DESIGN collection creates unique charms that benefit various non-profit organizations. Plan, and our Because I am a Girl programs, is one of the more than 50 organizations the company supports. ALEX AND ANI and Plan recently came out with the new Pinceone Charm, and you may be wondering, what does a pinecone have to do with Plan and Because I am a Girl? Each charm from ALEX AND ANI has a meaning that reaches further than the dictionary definition and creates a symbol that resonates with the wearer. For ALEX AND ANI, the pinecone means:
“Symbolizing growth and longevity, pinecones reach their full potential when opened by sunlight. One small pinecone can create an entire forest, unleashing a power that can change the world. Realize that you harness that same potential. Open your heart towards the sun, and thrive.”
Plan is that ray of light that helps girls get an education, live healthy lives, and reach their full potential. Because Plan is an organization that primarily focuses on children’s rights and girls’ equality, girls around the world are able to become change-makers in their own lives, in their communities, and in their countries. Plan exists so that every girl can learn, lead, decide, and thrive. Respectively, ALEX AND ANI described the pine tree as a tree that “stands tall and strong all over the world, thriving in areas that other plants cannot.” Both organizations believe that when girls thrive, they can truly change the world.
I thought that the Lunch & Learn session was very successful. After we talked about the partnership between ALEX AND ANI and Plan, I shared more about the various initiatives in different countries that ALEX AND ANI supports through Plan, such as promoting safety in schools in Burkina Faso and action against child trafficking in Nepal. I also focused on Plan’s work in Cairo, Egypt called “Safer Cities” because I learned that the Spring 2018 line from ALEX AND ANI is inspired by Egypt! How cool!
At the end of the session, we all got up from our seats and played a game called “Take a Stand.” I called out different gender statements that would create discussion, and the participants had to move to a corner of the room labeled agree, disagree, and neutral (depending on their opinion). The ALEX AND ANI staff was extremely collaborative. They were excited to take part in the game and share their perspectives. After hearing the reasoning behind people’s positions on opposite ends of the spectrum, many shifted their places, while others added additional comments to the arguments.
One of the statements that caused people to switch was "are women equal in our society?” At first, the great majority said “yes” because in the U.S., women have the same rights as men. But then one person commented that women are still not given the same respect as men and have to prove that they are worthy of a position. After this comment, around seven staffers switched from the corner of "agree" to "disagree.”
We were having such an insightful discussion that we ran out of time! You know what they say, time flies when you are having fun!
I’m very thankful for this experience, especially being able to interact with such strong, inspiring, and passionate women who work at both ALEX AND ANI and Plan International USA. As I wear my new Pinecone Charm , I think about how I’m looking forward to watching this partnership grow and seeing the incredible impact that both organizations will make in the lives of girls around the world.