Shelley Goldenberg has got heart, literally and figuratively. The 49-year-old founded Open Your Heart (Hearts.Care), an online company that sells hand-crafted silver jewelry in the shape of -- you guessed it -- hearts.
A portion of the proceeds go back to a charity near and dear to Goldenberg’s own heart: the Family Navigation Project, a Toronto-based nonprofit program that provides assistance for youth struggling with mental heath and addictions.
Goldenberg is joining a growing number of entrepreneurs launching businesses that tie products or services to charitable contributions. The startup venture is her way of giving back, while encouraging others to do the same -- through power of the pocketbook.
Goldenberg spoke with Name.Kitchen about why her inaugural jewelry line is the start of something much bigger, and why her website name, ‘Hearts.Care,’ has become a stand-out digital branding tool.
What is the mission of Open Your Heart?
The main focus of the company is to blend the luxury and the charity market. We all love to indulge in special things for ourselves as gifts, but when there's a feel-good aspect to it, it has so much more meaning.
It does shift the shopping mindset a bit – from being just a consumer to being a do-gooder.
Exactly. I'm trying to bring a little bit of feel good into this crazy ‘Got to have the latest and greatest, whatever Kim Kardashian's wearing or holding or putting on her baby’ world. [laughter]
What motivated you?
It was born out of my love of jewelry, hearts and a very close friend of mine who started an organization here in Toronto called Family Navigation Project. Family Navigation Project is a community-based organization that helps families deal with youth mental illness and addiction issues. In the short time that it’s been around, it’s now helping over 500 families in the Toronto area alone.
Why is this charity important to you?
I'm just about to turn 50, and my kids are early to mid-20s and my peers are all experiencing a lot of issues with our kids' generation. There are a lot of anxiety issues, there are a lot of depression issues, there's a lot of pressure on kids.
What Family Navigation Project does is helps the families that are dealing with these issues with their kids navigate the healthcare system. How do they get help for their child. How do they get help for themselves, for the other kids in the family? Where do they go, who do they turn to, who can help them?
So a portion of proceeds from the jewelry purchases go back to this specific charity?
Yes. The inaugural project is the sterling silver heart, which is a very simple piece of jewelry. I'm working with local [Canadian] silversmiths who actually made the product to my specification. The hearts are all hand-finished, and they are unique, because everyone's heart is unique. To start with that as a piece of jewelry, it's symbolic of the name of the company.
About the name – how did you decide on ‘Open Your Heart’?
When you purchase something that has a charity component or a component to it that gives back in some positive way, you're opening your heart. You're opening your heart because you're giving someone a gift, or you're buying something for yourself, and you're opening your heart because you're giving a portion of that money to a charity.
The name provides an emotional connection to the product, in other words.
I wanted a name that would personify what I'm trying to do. My goal in expanding the company over the next number of years is to pair with other charities and create other products using the same business model.
In taking your company name online, why not ‘OpenYourHeart. ca,' as most Canadian-based businesses opt to do?
The [online] market is so super saturated, and it's very difficult to stand out. And I wanted to stand out. That's a huge challenge for everybody, when you're looking to name your domain with the dot-com [.com], dot-ca [.ca] – which is commonly used here in Canada – the dot-net [.net], the dot-org [.org].
So when I discovered through my search that a ‘dot-care’ [.care] was available, it was like an “ah-ha” moment. I was looking at the different extensions that I could secure. I was thrilled that there were other “non-dot-coms” that I could utilize. And ‘dot-care’ just said it.
What did 'dot-care' [.care] say?
'Dot-care' tells the world that your site, product, field is about doing better for the world and giving back -- caring. It reflects an altruistic element to both your mission and the greater good. Without even visiting my site, anyone who hears of the URL will already understand that what we do gives back to society in some way. Bam! Perfect synergy!
But why not ‘OpenYourHeart.Care’?
The URL has to be short, it has to be succinct, it has to really say what you're all about. A huge part of dealing with the public is being able to convey to them the elevator speech, the “How do I tell you in the fewest words possible what I do?”
Making it one word [for the domain] was ideal because all I have to say to people is this: “‘Hearts.Care.’ Take a look at ‘hearts.care.’" And they would remember that. It's not something you have to go home and write down. They grab their smartphone, it's quick to type in, and they're on your site within seconds.
What sort of reception has your domain name received?
Everyone is surprised. I think a majority of the public doesn't know that these kinds of extensions are available. The web has exploded over the last number of years as it is, businesses cannot be viable without a website, and I think this is just going to enable people to be way more creative with what they're showcasing on the web.
Learn more about this business by visiting the website www.Hearts.Care.