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One of the highlights of the year for social entrepreneurs in Los Angeles is the annual Heart Series conference which brings together thought-leaders in the space for two days of talks, workshops, and networking. I caught up with the Co-Founders Megan Sette and Gail Cayetano to hear more about their plans for their upcoming fifth-anniversary edition which takes place on February 14th and 15th at The Row DTLA.
Afdhel Aziz: What was your vision of The Heart Series when you started five years ago?
Megan Sette: I’ve been in the social impact space my entire career. I started in politics and then nonprofit for 10 years, and have been consulting on impact strategy for the past 6 years. When Gail approached me 5 years ago to ask where companies should go to learn how to be more socially conscious because she wanted to expand the impact of her family jewelry line, Cayetano Legacy Collection, there wasn’t much out there in the way of conferences and events. It was then that Gail suggested we team up and create a place for companies to go and exchange ideas. That was how it all started–we wanted to fill a need in a new and emerging business space. We both had experience with event planning and envisioned an experience where brands, social enterprises, and nonprofits could come together in person to talk about best practices for making an impact. But we also wanted the event to feel incredibly inspiring and retreat-like, with lots of opportunities for connection and collaboration, the opposite of many conferences we had attended in past.
Gail Cayetano: So we set out to build the event that we wanted to attend but couldn’t seem to find! We personally both wanted to hear from thought leaders in the space, knowing that each had different perspectives to contribute to the conversation by sharing best practices across industries and sectors. And now here we are 5 years later because there were several other leaders that wanted to attend this same type of event and learn how to utilize business to better the world!
Aziz: I love the ‘build-it-yourself’ ethos. How has the social impact space changed since you started it, what are some of the trends you’ve seen?
Sette: This is a growing space and one that is constantly evolving! We continue to see evidence that consumers are eager to support brands that have a social impact component. Even a recent Accenture study showed that more 63% of people would rather buy goods from a company that reflects their own values.
Cayetano: More and more people want to feel a part of something greater than themselves, and buy products that do good, because it makes you feel like you’re playing a role in making the world better. And as a result, the number of companies building impact into their business model is growing rapidly, and we continue to see brands going above and beyond traditional CSR practices – it’s no longer about a business simply writing a check to charity – but an evolution towards companies striving to make an impact on the daily.
Aziz: I couldn’t agree more. Who are some of the speakers you are most excited about hearing at The Heart Series in 2019?
Sette: We spend a ton of time curating the speakers, so we’re excited for everyone! Highlights for this year include, social enterprise leaders like Sarah Naseer, President of FEED, conscious corporate execs like Sara Link, head of corporate social responsibility for Oath (formally AOL and Yahoo, now owned by Verizon), and nonprofit champions like Adam Garone, activist and co-founder of Movember, plus influencers on dedicated to doing good, like Nikki Reed, actress and co-founder of Bayou with Love which upcycles the gold from old computer motherboards into beautiful jewelry, and Ben Higgins, from ABC’s the Bachelor, and co-founder of the new socially conscious brand, Generous Coffee!
Aziz: Awesome! Finally, where can people go to find out more about The Heart Series?
Cayetano: Check out www.theheartseries.com for all of the details on this year’s 5th-anniversary event!
January 23, 2019 at 11:40AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs