Two Former Journalists Hope to ‘Look Good, Do Good’

I'm reporting today on research showing that more women are self-gifting. A new online jewelry store lets you treat yourself while also treating someone else. Altruette sells charm bracelets, where the charms represent charities. Half of net profits go to those non-profits.

Cupcake charm
Cupcake charm

There are a lot of ways to give this year, but caught my eye because it was started by two former journalists, both of whom happen to be pregnant, who decided they'd rather focus their energies in a more positive direction.

Julie Schlosser and Lee Clifford were both editors at Fortune, where they worked for nine years. "It was liberating but a bit scary," says Schlosser about leaving to start Altruette. "We'd never done anything like this, and we realized the risk involved in giving up our careers in journalism." Schlosser worked in Washington, DC, while Clifford worked in New York. "When she called and suggested we leave to create our own company, it was a total 'aha' moment," Schlosser says. "I had wanted to do this for years, but it wasn't until I knew I had a very talented partner to work with that I felt I could take the leap."

The women self-funded their venture with a little help from family and friends. The began selling product in Fred Segal in Santa Monica in October, then started selling online in November. "Sales are going quite well given that we've done very little publicity and we're dependent on social media to get the word out this holiday season."

The charms represent charitieslike CARE and First Book. Several more will be added in 2011. Why charm bracelets? "They've long been a way for people to tell their stories," says Schlosser, "and storytelling is what both of us had done for a decade as journalists. My mom had always treasured her Sweet 16 charm bracelet and my little cousin had started to collect at a young age, so it was clear that charms never go out of fashion."

This stuff isn't cheap, but it is eye-catching. Beyond making the wearer feel pretty (and good), the hope is to use the jewelry to spread the word about the charities. "Our bracelets and necklaces are designed to be conversation starters."

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