Shannon was one of the first women who was kind enough to chat with me when I first had the idea to find ways to support and connect female social entrepreneurs. Not only did she chat with me, I remember my words to her afterwards, “You watered my soul today.” And she still does. While I was dreaming a very infant, fragile and naive dream, that not many people understood, Shannon held space for me and encouraged me. She believed in me. That’s one of the things that makes her so special. She is a passionate believer in people.
Her love runs deep and her heart is a force to be reckoned with.
Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Shannon Keith, Founder and CEO of Sudara.
Hi Shannon! Would you tell us a little bit about your life, your family? Where were you before Sudara?
I grew up in southern California, went to college back east outside of Boston and worked in corporate sales prior to traveling to India and getting the inspiration to empower survivors of sex slavery through job creation.
I have been married to my best friend Jeff for 15 years and love him more today then when I walked down the aisle. There is something about going through good and bad times together that really shows the strength of a relationship.
We are blessed with 3 amazing children: 9-year-old boy/girl twins Jackson & Siena and a 5-year-old girl- Clancey. Our family is far from perfect… we raise our voice more often than we should, don’t always flush the toilet, and leave dirty shoes and socks scattered about… but we love each other deeply and laugh often so I can put up with the rest given that!
Was there a moment you knew for sure you had to do something?
When I looked these women in Indea in the eyes, saw their children running around shoeless when they should have been in school and thought to myself “what if I were born into this situation?…” It was right then and there in the red light area that God gave me the inspiration to do something.
Have there been moments you second guessed that you made the right decision?
There have been various moments along the journey that I second-guessed, not that I made the right decision to get involved. I have never ever doubted that, but I have often doubted if I will have the strength and stamina to see it through. It is a VERY hard space to be in and being 100% honest, self-doubt can creep in often.
Even when the chips are down… I know I am trying to partner with women whom have been born into much harder circumstances than I will ever know, so that keeps me grounded and my doubts in check.
Tell us all about your give-back model. How do you do good?
The single best thing we do is create jobs for women, so they can support themselves and their children with dignity and in freedom. They no longer have to sell their bodies to stay alive and feed their kids.
Job creation, not handouts, transforms lives.
So we are very encouraged and proud of our model that creates dignified jobs and opportunities for freedom where there was none. When women have jobs they can pay for their own kids shoes and school fees.
Yes! Love that and we are so excited to be able to partner with you in that job creation by offering your punjammies and some jewelry for sale at our giant pop-up shop at Fashioned for Freedom coming up in just over a week!
What would you say sitting across the table from another woman who says, “Sure. But you had money saved up, a spouse who can support you, a business degree, a support system, a platform, etc… You’re brave. You’re fearless and I’m risk averse, I’m … fill in the blank.” ?
Well I had a supportive husband, but I certainly did not have a business degree, money saved up or anyone willing to bank roll this endeavor. It’s been hard work from the start, but we all have a responsibility to be the best global citizen we can be.
Not everyone is called to start a social good business, but I believe 100% of us are called to be responsible with our dollars. You can support social good companies, buying all of their goods and services, as well as demanding that all of your other retailers or businesses you patronize have a transparent supply chain and treat people and planet well.
Is there a quote you have on your desk, your wall, or just stored in your heart that keeps you going or lifts your spirits when you’re down?
It’s one of our favorite Sudara quotes :
What are you the most passionate about regarding your business?
I am most passionate about all women, especially survivors of sex trafficking knowing that they are loved, valued and honored. That they are worth our time and effort and that they can, by God’s grace, have a chance at a fresh start on life lived in freedom.
Their lives need not be defined by the hellish past they’ve endured, but by the HOPE of a bright and possible future!
As women we have to support each other in this way. We have the opportunity and responsibility, ethical mandate really, to be agents of peace and help transform lives … what could be more worthy, exciting and thrilling that that?!?
I can’t imagine anything more exciting than that, Shannon! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story with us!
to more love,
P. S. If you’re near the Dallas area and would like to shop Sudara’s products live, in person along with 20 other socially responsible brands with beautiful hearts behind them, AND get to take in a breathtaking runway show full of these products, get your tickets quick! Fashioned for Freedom is only 9 days away! I can’t wait to see you there.