It’s our favourite time of the week! Today’s Fierce Female is none other than actress, singer/songwriter, and founder of ‘The Giving Keys’, Caitlin Crosby. Caitlin is an incredible entrepreneur, entertainer, and generous soul. She has been entertaining since middle school, playing in church bands and acting in school plays. She went on to work as an actress in several well-known shows such as Malcolm in the Middle, That 70’s Show, and 7th Heaven. Beyond that, she worked with musicians like Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and The Plain White T’s.
In 2009, Caitlin launched the ‘LoveYourFlawz’ campaign to support people dealing with body image issues and released her debut album ‘Flawz’. While on tour for the album, she began wearing an old hotel key as a necklace. After getting endless compliments on it, she had the idea to begin engraving used keys with inspirational words and start selling them at her shows. Eventually, the keys started outselling her record at merch tables, and she realized how much they resonated with people. She believed that, in a way, we are all like these keys – scarred, flawed and unique but filled with purpose. She called her small business ‘The Giving Keys’.
The message of ‘The Giving Keys’ became ‘Pay It Forward’. The idea is that once you have purchased a key, to wear it for a while and then pass it along to a person you believe needs the inspirational word more than you do. Since its inception, ‘The Giving Keys’ has received thousands of ‘Pay It Forward’ stories. You can read some for yourself here. Justine and I have a ‘Pay It Forward’ story of our own, in which we traded keys with words engraved on them that we wanted to speak over each other. Believing words have so much power, we prayed over the keys and wrote letters to each other about why we chose the words we did. (Let us know if you’d like a blog post about this exchange!)
As her business began to grow, Caitlin met a homeless couple by the names of Rob and Cera, and invited them over for dinner at her house. To her surprise, she found out that Cera made jewellery, and Cera’s talent became the missing link to turn her small business into a humanitarian organization. Rob and Cera became Caitlin’s business partners and, through their hard work, were eventually able to get themselves out of homelessness. This was the start of the company’s passion to help those affected by homelessness.
Rob and Cera now live in San Diego. Rob works for the San Diego zoo and Cera also has a job of her own. Since 2015, ‘The Giving Keys’ has employed 90+ people who have been affected by homelessness and helped 20+ move into permanent housing.
Caitlin was the young age of 24 when she started her business and now employs over 50 people. Caitlin’s love for other people shows in her leadership style, and it’s obvious she cares way more about people’s stories and helping those in need than she does about making money.
Caitlin’s story has been featured in international media outlets such as ABC World News, The Today Show, Ellen, and O Magazine’s top 10 favourite charities. She has also spoken at TEDx, Stanford University, Catalyst and many other speaking engagements across the United States. Her ‘The Giving Keys’ designs have been worn by big names like Selena Gomez, Ryan Gosling, and Taylor Swift.
‘The Giving Keys’ has recently announced that they are opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Los Angeles after being sold in stores like Nordstrom and Fred Segal for the past few years. Caitlin says is over-the-moon happy about the success of the company, but the entrepreneur in her has more goals to reach for. She intends release another record and hopes to eventually open a restaurant in downtown LA.
“It’s our responsibility as humans to take care of each other.” – Caitlin Crosby
Photo courtesy of Trever Hoehne – © 2017