Friday, February 22, 2019

LeeAnne McCoy - Changing How You Shop

LeeAnne McCoy
Are you familiar with LeeAnne McCoy and her encyclopedic website "Change The World By How You Shop?" If you aren't, you should be. If you want to make more educated, more ethical buying choices, she's done all the work for you. Clothing. Furnishings. Food. Toys. You name it. She has diligently assembled what I think is one of the most comprehensive buying guides for smarter shopping. I am so impressed with her website, I asked if she would be willing to have me interview her. Lucky me. Lucky us. She agreed. And now we know what motivates all of her hard work.

NANCY: Your site 'Change The World By How You Shop' is an extraordinary resource listing so many companies producing and selling ethical merchandise. How did you get started with creating this site? 

LEEANNE:  The idea for my website was born for two reasons.  First, the more I learned about the mistreatment of people behind so many of the products we buy, the more passionate I became about ethical shopping and the more I wanted to do something to make a difference.  Secondly, when I began shopping for ethically made products, I was frustrated at the lack of ethical shopping guides available, particularly for shopping within the USA. When I started, I couldn't find any.

So I came up with this crazy idea of creating my own guide which would break the products down into very specific categories, making it easier to find whatever you were looking for.  The website takes a lot of work to maintain, but, if nothing else, it has certainly makes ethical shopping a lot easier.

NANCY: Do you have a favorite fair trade category you like talking about the most?

LEEANNE:  I am most passionate about businesses that go beyond just paying living wages and invest in the entire person, transforming people's lives. Many of the organizations whose products I feature on my site are providing job training and hope to people including those with disabilities, widows, orphans, former victims of human trafficking, the homeless, and on and on.  I give to charity. I also love the idea of supporting well-meaning business through my every day shopping. I like to know the mission of companies is about changing and improving lives.

NANCY: It appears you don't support your site and work with paid or affiliate advertising. Is there a reason for this?

LEEANNE:  You are one of only a few who has even noticed that.  I am certainly not against anyone earning income from their blogs or shopping guides and maybe someday I will too.  But, for now I do not, for two reasons.  One, I am not a very good salesman and I find it a whole lot easier to promote and sell something if I am not profiting from it.  Two, because I promote so many organizations which are mission-based, my website has become my mission. 

The best payment I get for the work I do is when I hear someone bought a product after referring to my site.  I am fulfilled when I am able to encourage and provide resources to someone running a fair trade business or non-profit who is feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.  That is why I do what I do.

NANCY: I met you in the 'Purchase with Purpose' Facebook group.  How else do you promote your site and the amazing things you've learned while putting it together?

LEEANNE:  I love that Facebook group. I have met so many cool people and found so many great resources through that group. I also follow many other ethical shopping Facebook groups and blogs and spend a lot of time scouring the Internet and social media for other like-minded shoppers. Then I let them know about the resources on my site.  I know there are many others like me who are looking for ways to make ethical shopping easier and I am happy to share my research. (yes she is!)

NANCY:  You're a mom of 6 young children.  Obviously you want the world to be a better place for them. How do you explain your site to them?

McCoy Family
LEEANNE:  Shopping ethically with young children is not always easy.  How do you explain to a six-year-old why he cannot have a particular toy or chocolate bar?  My nine-year-old sometimes laments that he wishes there was no more slavery or bad factories so he could buy whatever he wants. And my eleven-year-old keeps coming up with elaborate plans on how to fix all the world's problems.

I hope that by not being able to buy anything and everything they want and thinking about those who made things we do buy, it will help them be more grateful for what they do have.  Ultimately, my dream is not so much to make the world better for my children, as it is to inspire my children to make a difference in the world.  If my children choose to use their talents, time and resources to invest in caring about and impacting other people’s lives than I will have succeeded.

NANCY: Clearly you're an advocate for the promotion of fair trade and ethical goods. What do you do for fun when you're not helping others make better buying decisions?

Family Game Night
LEEANNE:  I am a piano and flute teacher. That is how I actually make my living. And when I want to relax, I play music.  For fun, me and my whole family are avid board game players. I have had to do quite a bit of research to find out which games are ethically made. Now we have a whole collection we all enjoy.

NANCY: Is there anything else you'd like people to know about you?

LEEANNE:   My dream would be to work directly with the amazing people who create the beautiful products I feature on my website. Maybe someday. But I have learned that God does not call everybody to the front-lines.  Those of us who are on the sidelines cheering them on or working behind the scenes are just as important to making a difference.  So, anyone who shops through my site also gets to join me in having an impact.

---end of interview

How can you not love this woman? Her aura is inspiring and inspired. I'm certain if you cannot find a company that offers the ethically produced product you're looking for, you just need to ask LeeAnne. She's a pitbull at finding resources. And she'll make sure any new information she uncovers will be added to Change The World By How You Shop. Heck, she found me. I'm thrilled Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry and Judaica are noted on her site.

Here's a big thank you to LeeAnne for creating Change The World By How You Shop.  I'm certain LeeAnne is changing the world for the better - one person at a time and one fair trade and ethically made item at a time. -ND