BY: Vanessa Salman
Hannah Davis is not your average entrepreneur. She graduated from Clemson University in 2009, with a major in political science and a minor in Mandarin, unbeknownst to the impact she would make with just a simple idea. While teaching English in China, she saw a worker wearing a pair of army green high top sneakers and a light bulb went off. Davis then started a line of sneakers, BANGS, which symbolize six non-profit organizations that all work toward sustainable and long term change. With each purchase, 20% goes to that particular cause.
Q: Why did you choose these six non-profits to work with?
A: It was a really difficult process to find them, so you could imagine, you know, “Oh I’ve got this idea!” and I want to work with non-profits, and then you get on the computer and Google ‘good non-profits’, all this good stuff comes up. So, I ended up going through my network of people that I trust and asking around, “Listen I am looking for these qualities, I am looking for a non-profit that focuses on sustainable methods of development.” I also wanted to find an organization that was of relative size to us, so as a start-up, I didn’t want a group to feel that we were using their networks that they have been establishing for however many years, but then I also didn’t want to work with a nonprofit that might be so small that it wouldn’t make sense. The third thing I was looking for was people that I really like to work with, so at the end of the day I am picking up the phone and calling these people, and its got to be an easy work relationship.
Q: Why the name “BANGS” for your brand?
A: Bangs comes from the Chinese character “help” which is spelled BANG.
Q: What is the most embarrassing pair of shoes you own or have ever owned?
A: They were awesome, then they were embarrassing, and now they’re awesome again: knee high laced Doc Martens. I had them in high school and then they got embarrassing, but now they’re awesome again! I used to also wear six-inch stilettos. As a 6-foot tall woman, I must have looked very silly! But those aren’t embarrassing, they just didn’t make sense… I’m sure I had some embarrassing shoes… I don’t know, clogs?
Q: Shoe size?
A: BANGS I wear a 9.5, but I usually am a size 10.
Q: What can we expect from BANGS in the future?
A: My hope is that we grow the brand, and sell a lot of shoes, which will allow us to invest in non-profit partners to create sustainable development
Q: What piece of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
A: I get asked this question a lot, actually, and I always give the same piece of advice that someone gave me that has really helped. I came up with the idea [for BANGS] while I was living in China, and I sat down with a friend of mine and was like, “Am I nuts? What am I doing? How do I know if I should just stop or keep going?” and he said, “Hannah, you’re not inventing anything crazy. You’re not inventing the Internet, and you’re not inventing electricity. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is perseverance; don’t stop.” If you come up with an idea and believe in it, don’t stop.
To get involved, follow BANGS on Twitter and Instagram at @BangsShoes, and also like the Syracuse University BANGS chapter page on Facebook “BANGS Shoes at Syracuse.”