SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Scottsdale resident Isabella DiGiovanni has a lot going on. She is a top-ranked basketball player for Seton Catholic High School, headed to play for Ivy-league Dartmouth next year. When she isn’t practicing for her next big game, or studying for her next big exam, she is an entrepreneur, selling tote bags that help empower women in third world countries.
DiGiovanni, along with friend Connor Nannen, started a gift firm, Sand Custom Designs, selling imported canvas tote bags. A portion of the sales will be sent to India, where they benefit a local school supporting and educating women. She originally got the idea while traveling with her family on business trips to Eastern Europe and Asia, where she was moved by the hard work of underprivileged women. “It was such an eye-opening experience, and one that I think will stick with me the rest of my life,” said DiGiovanni. “It’s really easy for Americans to become blind to the conditions in other countries. We sometimes forget how fortunate we are in this country.”
As she got older, she still wrestled with the question “what can I do to help?” Her answer came when she and Connor settled on marketing tote bags. “Isabella has clearly always had a passion for helping people and getting to join her in this has been one of the most impactful decisions in my life,” said Nannen. “We started the business in the DiGiovanni attic in August and then took over the garage, so we are presently looking for some inexpensive warehouse space because we have just run out of room.”
Many women in third world countries are either viewed as caretakers, or work in unprotected jobs, where they earn less than men. “Industrialization offers the chance for at least some women, especially poorer women, to get out of the home, but the hard-working conditions can foster leg injuries, breathing issues and back problems,” said DiGiovanni. “For as little as $5,000 we can send four women through a nursing program or six women through a basic accounting program. With this type of education, we can change the life cycle of multiple families. Education is the fastest way to empower women.”
DiGiovanni will head to Dartmouth next year to study marketing and management at the Tuck Business School, gaining skills that are sure to help her develop her growing business. She will also play on the women’s basketball team. Balancing schoolwork, sports, and running a successful business will surely only get more difficult as DiGiovanni begins her college life at an Ivy-league school. Still, she is determined to overcome whatever challenges may arise, and she points to her favorite quote that keeps her persistent in her dreams, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” coined by the famous Mother Teresa. “This is our attempt to do a small thing with great love,” said DiGiovanni. “We hope that others, especially young people, can see that they can make a difference, no matter how big or how small.”
For more information on the company and their mission, visit their website at www.Sandcustomdesigns.com.