SoCal entrepreneurs make millions selling bracelets for charity

Saturday, February 14, 2015
SoCal entrepreneurs make millions selling bracelets for charity
Two entrepreneurs in their 20's turned a college surf trip into a multi-million dollar business that's taking dozens out of poverty.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- How did two friends in their 20's make millions of dollars? By selling bracelets.

It is an unlikely story that includes some of the biggest names in Hollywood and dozens of charities.

Pura Vida bracelets began during a surf trip that Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman took after graduating from San Diego State University.

Between sets in the ocean, Thall and Goodman met Joaquin and Jorge, two young Costa Rican men living in poverty with a talent for crafting bracelets.

Thall and Goodman were impressed and thought their friends back home would be too. They bought 400 bracelets.

"We invested $100 each when we first started to buy those original bracelets, and we just built it up from there," Goodman said.

Back home, the reality set in.

"We got back to San Diego, we had a bag of 400 bracelets and we were like, 'What do we do with these?'" he said.

The two Agoura Hills natives began by selling them in a few Malibu boutique stores. That's where they caught the eyes of celebrities.

Lauren Conrad of "The Hills" started blogging about the bracelets. Then, others were photographed wearing them, including celebrities such as David Beckham, Rihanna, Skrillex and several models for Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated.

"After that started happening, a lot of people would flock to our website," Thall said.

Soon, the bracelets were selling at retailers around the world. Pura Vida has since sold more than two million bracelets.

That $200 investment Thall and Goodman made in 2010 led to $9 million in revenue in 2014.

"Its been a good investment," Thall joked.

It has also been good for 166 different charities. Many of the bracelets have special colors that designate a specific charity that is supported with every purchase.

In 2014, Pura Vida donated a combined $300,000 to charities.

Thall and Goodman were both recently selected as two of Forbes Magazine's "30 Under 30" due to their retail business success. Both are often asked to speak at business schools.

"The biggest thing we tell students is to find something you really like and you're really good at and just focus on it. Every time someone tells you, 'Hey, go get a real job. Go do this,' we never took that advice," Thall said.

Perhaps best of all, bracelet makers Joaquin and Jorge are no longer in poverty. In fact, 80 Costa Ricans now have full-time jobs producing all the bracelets.

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