Megan McClure, owner of Southern Sunday, had a different idea for giving back: she built it right into every purchase her customers make. Rather than choosing just one charity, she lets her customers decide where the money goes. This unique business model invites shoppers to not only look great, but to feel great about helping organizations that help others. While the holidays have always been synonymous with giving, Megan hopes that customers will make it a point to shop small and shop with a spirit of giving this holiday season.
Shopping small can make a big difference.
When Megan McClure set out to start her small business, she wanted to combine a love for fun, fashion, southern hospitality and a sense of making a difference. Her creation, Southern Sunday, is an online boutique offering stylish women’s apparel and accessories at affordable price points. A portion of every sale is donated to a charity that the customer chooses at no additional cost to them.
“The movement to shop local or ‘shop small’ has really taken off over the last several years and I think it’s important to remember that even online companies can be small businesses,” she said. While Southern Sunday launched earlier this year in September, the idea of an online boutique was one that Megan had been contemplating for a while. Even though Southern Sunday doesn’t have a brick and mortar location, it is still very much a local business, Megan explained.
“Having worked in a variety of retail outlets, I wanted to find a way to combine what I enjoyed about those experiences in an entrepreneurial way,” she explained.
“It seems as though we live in a time where negativity can come at us from all directions, whether it be watching the news, social media or the stress of everyday life. I know that the feeling of wanting to make a difference when it can feel nearly impossible.”
Megan believes that if everyone focused on making their own small corners of the world brighter, that the effects everywhere could be much greater. Southern Sunday helps make that possible by making charity a part of the shopping experience.
During the checkout process, customers have the option to choose which charity they would like to receive the donation, equal to a percentage of their purchase. The charities that are currently listed on the site are St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Wounded Warrior Project, American Red Cross and GreenHouse17. Megan’s plan is to have the charities change every four months in order to draw awareness to many causes and organizations. In case the customer is unfamiliar with the charities, there are places at the top and bottom of the site for them to click to learn more about each organization.
What happens from there? “Once their purchase is complete, their chosen charity is displayed so that when I process their order, I can track what amount goes where. The same percentage is donated for each sale and the grand total is presented to the charity at the end of each quarter,” Megan explained.
“While the charities may change quarterly, the format will stay the same in that there will always be three national charities and one local charity to contribute to,” she said. “Southern Sunday is also available for trunk shows, so that a percentage of the event’s sales can go to a charity that the host chooses. For events and markets, one charity will receive the percentage of the sales and then that charity will rotate so that each of the four organizations will be able to benefit from at least one special occasion.”
Megan encourages those interested in the idea to reach out to her. She said that she wants anyone who is passionate about a cause or group to reach out to her so that she can learn more and, if the fit is right, be able to list the organization on the site one day or host an event for them.
A culture of giving back
When Megan was creating Southern Sunday, she knew she wanted to make giving back a part of the fabric of her company. But when the time came for Megan to decide which charity would to receive the donations, she found that she was having a hard time choosing just one. While talking with friends and family, she realized that everyone has a cause or organization they feel more connected to. She knew then that customers would like being presented with options that they felt reflected things they valued most.
“Although I built giving back into my business model, one thing I’ve learned in starting this venture is that there are so many wonderful charities that I never knew existed,” Megan said. “That’s why I like the idea of changing the charities periodically; every cause represented is important and I’d like to be able to bring attention to as many as I can.”
For the national charities, Megan chose organizations that helped a wide variety of causes and feel familiar to most shoppers.
“My father had a brother who passed away from cancer as a child, so St. Jude felt like a natural choice to honor him. I strongly believe in supporting our military and love the mission behind Wounded Warrior Project. They’ve helped so many servicemen and women through their various programs and therapy options,” she explained.
It wasn’t until Megan started researching that she realized exactly how many services the Red Cross offers. “Not only do they provide disaster relief and host blood drives, the Red Cross offers health and mental health consultations, they install smoke alarms in homes and serve meals and snacks to those in need,” she said. “While I haven’t personally needed their services, it’s comforting to know that they are available should I ever need their services.”
Megan then sought out to find a local charity that served the Lexington community in a unique way. She was deeply impressed with GreenHouse17, whose services include supporting victims of domestic abuse by offering them refuge on a 40 acre farm and providing survivors with opportunities to regroup through various programs and therapies.
“It is my wish that Southern Sunday will be a place that will help women feel great about themselves not only by what they’re wearing, but also for how they’ve contributed to a local or national charity,” she said. “Southern Sunday is my way of supporting a culture of giving.”
Want to Know More?
To learn more about the charities Southern Sunday supports or to find out how to be a charitable partner, visit ShopSouthernSunday.com or email Megan McClure at: [email protected]