Keith Manning and Phil Henson, the founders of HappyBombs, are nothing if not persistent.
They came up with the idea for their apparel company eight years ago while working in advertising together in Boston. Phil moved away to California while Keith stayed on the East Coast, agreeing to continue to work on this project together. Work is an understatement, however. Phil and Keith, in what sounds like an almost militant schedule, talk every night, splitting the time difference and brainstorming around midnight.
Keith, a designer by trade, explains that their moonlighting is out of necessity, “we both couldn’t quit our day jobs.” Refreshingly, Keith and Phil don’t seem to live in a ‘Girls’-tinged reality and instead, both have young families and day jobs. As a result, every night, they make a plan for the day and pass the baton throughout the day to make HappyBombs a success. Keith adds, “we talk every single day and it’s an amazing feat launching a company without being side by side.”
Phil, a writer by trade, said that the idea for HappyBombs was sparked during the Lance Armstrong wristband craze. Keith added “we thought, what if everything we did stood for something? That’s the hook.”
This idea sparked an eight year journey that in the past year has taken off in a way social entrepreneurship college majors only dream of. HappyBombs has teamed up with numerous non profits, helping organizations to amplify their messaging through t-shirts, buttons, stickers and wall art.
When asked what their favorite projects have been, Keith points to a collaboration with Water.org. The partners designed a Water Collection and 50% of the profits from every purchase goes to Water.org, helping to make safe water and sanitation accessible to all. “Water is a basic human right,” Keith adds.
Keith also mentioned working with Project 100, a non profit whose goal is to get 100 women elected to Congress by the 100 year anniversary of women getting the right to vote (2020). Phil agrees with that being his favorite project. “It’s something that I needed," Phil adds, in the current climate "guys feel frustrated and don’t know what to do...this is a tangible goal to work towards.”
“It’s something that I needed...guys feel frustrated and don’t know what to do...this is a tangible goal to work towards.” - Phil Henson
HappyBombs is “changing rapidly,” Phil notes, "it’s growing into something bigger than we thought." The duo agrees that, long term, brick and mortar stores would be the goal.
Continuing with their business mantra of giving back, they’re also looking forward to building up the company enough to start hiring the friends that have been helping them out along the way. Phil adds that the venture has provided an opportunity for talented friends to be creative outside of their day jobs. “We’ve met a lot of people through our careers in advertising and they’ve been really excited about the venture … it’s a good network of support,” Phil notes.
Keith agrees, and adds that the “agency” aspect of HappyBombs is increasingly becoming more of their focus. “Helping more non-profits think through design is in the future for the company,” Kevin notes.
The Truth for Fellow Entrepreneurs
Keith: Do a few things really well and then move on to the next.
Phil: Learn to be patient. Things will happen kind of when they’re supposed to happen. Try to stay open.
It’s okay to ask for help. A lot of people really want to help.
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