Being nice seems like a small thing we take for granted. For Adriana Carigg, it’s something she’s wildly passionate about. In fact, she's made a whole career on positivity and the philosophy that it’s nice to be nice. Her company, The Little Words Project, makes trackable bracelets that literally have “little words” on them to remind their wearers to be a little kinder, to others and themselves. Through her story, we can see how passion has truly helped her build her business to where it is today.
1. Passion Makes You Aware of a Need
When you’re passionate about something, you see it everywhere. Before you know it, your passion has started you out on a new venture. Adriana’s passion for positivity started with her sorority, but soon she saw how her bracelets could be used on a wider scale.
“Back in 2013, I was 23 years old and had just graduated from college when I came up with the idea for the line. I had grown up experiencing a ton of negativity from other girls. I was bullied, basically, my entire life and when I got to college, I saw that behavior continue. It was just this female cruelty that was taking place, and I really wanted to create something for my sorority that could be kind of a symbol of sisterhood and a literal, physical, piece of kindness that could be passed amongst ourselves. So I made my first batch of bracelets, at the time I called them Warm Fuzzies, which I had borrowed from a concept I had heard about in my church youth group. The idea was you passed the bracelet on as a sister needed something, maybe it was luck before a test or maybe she was going through a break-up and she needed more love. Pretty soon it took off and it became a symbol of sisterhood more than even the letters on our shirts. People knew that it was a member of our sorority if they were wearing that bracelet. That’s what made it so unique and really had me feeling like this truly inspired sisterhood.”
2. Passion Gives You Guts to Stray Off the Beaten Path
When you think about what you want to accomplish, with all it’s obstacles and moving parts, it may seem a bit overwhelming. You may even want to stop pursuing your goals and get back to your usual routine. That’s where passion comes in! It may seem tough to take your idea to a new level. Even Adriana felt like bringing her bracelets to the public was a big step. Remember, your belief in your idea is stronger than any obstacle.
“When I graduated - I was going to go to law school, I was taking the LSATs, I was going to go a regular route. At the time, I was still really involved with the girls on campus and I saw that they were still making and using these bracelets. It made me realize that there was really something there. When I finally gained the courage to create this off the beaten path brand, I asked the chapter, “Would you guys mind if I brought this to the masses?” Every one of them said, “This was something you created, you go for it!” It was born out of women supporting women. That was the very beginning and ever since then, it’s just been a train that I couldn’t get off if I wanted to.”
3. Passion Shows You the Big Picture The achievements you make in pursuing your goals are just the beginning. Your passion is what can help you see the real meaning behind your brand and how you can build it even further. For Adriana, that meant her work was more than just about bracelets, it was about building a better community.
“Little Words fits so well because if you look at them, they literally are little words. Sometimes little words can carry a huge meaning. In fact, all words carry big meaning. It’s kind of a play on both things. Negativity and the cruel words that people use, stick with you and can stay with you forever, so why not put positivity back into words? That’s why we love what we do. It’s more than just having a cute brand; we’re putting positive meaning back into words and removing the negative association that can come along with them. Instead, you can look down and see a positive word in its place. That’s what makes Little Words Project so special, the brand is a movement. People pick a word based on whatever they’re going through, maybe it’s a breakup or an infertility journey or someone going through breast cancer treatments. They wear that word for as long as they need that bit of inspiration or the reminder to be strong and keep going. Then, once they feel like it’s served the purpose in their life, they pass that on to someone who needs it more than they do. It’s an incredible concept that will ultimately create community.”
4. Passion Fosters Innovation
Your passion has already brought to life a great idea. That being said, the world might not be ready to accommodate your new creation. Don’t worry, passion’s got you covered there too! It can help you find unexpected solutions to make your product or service even better. The Little Words Project bracelets always had the idea of tracking in them, but the creation of an app for just that purpose is what made it really stand out.
“Each one comes with a little number on the back of the tag that is unique to that bracelet. It’s used to register the bracelet on our website or mobile app, so the customer can track where the bracelet goes as it is given from person to person. It’s a really cool way to not only interact with our community, but see that little bit of kindness as it moves from person to person and track how that single act of kindness helps people down the line. The app didn’t come until a few years in, though. Initially, you would use Instagram, hashtag Little Words Project with your bracelet number and you could see all the places your bracelet had been. I decided that there needed to be a better way to track the bracelets to ensure that people could follow their bracelet and that’s how the app was born.”
5. Passion Infringes on the Status Quo
Even when people aren’t happy with the way things are, generally they’re willing to put up with it. Not you! Passion can help you see things differently and find ways to disrupt the current system with your idea.
“We obviously don't think we're going to eradicate female cruelty; we're all going to be
ourselves, if you're kind you're kind, if you're not you're not. There are times when I'm not the nicest person in the world. We're not trying to claim that there's one perfect way to be. We all make mistakes and we're all human, but it's about having something in the world that infringes on the territory [of negativity]. It's just a reminder, even if it's as simple as looking down [at your bracelet] and remembering, “wait a minute, wait a minute, I should be nice. I should believe in myself and have the confidence or courage to speak up for myself.” I'm going to recognize who I am and what I want to be and the bracelets, I hope, are a reminder of that.”
6. Passion Weighs the Pros and Cons
The Little Words project has standard words on their bracelets that we love! They also do 24 hour customization days where you can get whatever word you want twice a year. Originally, they only did customizations, which was a lot of work. Adriana’s passion for this movement helped her to see that if it was going to keep growing without diluting her message she had to make some changes.
“When we first started the brand it was all customization, but it was very hard to scale. Obviously, when you're creating and growing a business you have to be mindful of how it is going to get to the next level. At the time, it wouldn’t be possible to continue building the brand if we were making everything to order, so we had to scale that back. Ever since then, customers have wanted the ability to put anything they wanted on their wrists back, including kids' names. We struggled with this because we really wanted it to be about passing on positivity. You’re probably not going to pass on a bracelet with your child's name on it, but at least this way you have something that always means something to you. So we brought back these customization days just to give customers the opportunity to get something they wanted without fully diluting the brand.
These days are honestly better than Black Fridays for us, as far as sales are concerned, which is really cool too. We have to consider the business element of it. What if we brought back customization? Would it even be as good? Is the demand what makes it so great? The same thing goes for when you're scaling. You have to consider, who's going to manufacture everything? Are you going to be vendor compliant for some of these bigger locations you're going to be in? We've been figuring it out slowly but surely.”
7. Passion Lets You Believe and Know
We asked Adriana what Little Words Project bracelets she was wearing, and the meaning behind her words did not disappoint.
“‘Believe’ is my favorite word, I think it's the most important word to live by because it means to believe in yourself and that everything will work out for you. It's very easy to get down on yourself, especially in today's fast-paced ‘compare yourself to others’ culture. I really wanted to create something that I could always wear to remind myself of what inspired me to do this. It's that I believe in myself. Hurdles are just hurdles, they're not insurmountable mountains, they're always something you can climb over no matter how difficult the experience is.
‘Know’ takes it one step further. I met someone at a trade show, she calls herself a master manifester. She said it's not enough to believe, sometimes, you have to just know. It has to be second nature knowledge that everything's going to be fine and your life is going to be ok. I came to the realization that that's actually what I do. I just know that everything's going to be fine. When my husband is worried about mortgages or money, I always reassure him that it's fine and we're going to be good.”
8. Passion Brings Joy & Unexpected Results
We asked Adriana to share a few stories about the journeys the bracelets go on, she was very ready with a few that stood out to her.
“One of my favorites is a girl who was a nurse and she had bought it for her patient, who I believe had sickle cell anemia. That patient then gave it to one of her patient friends at the hospital. Unfortunately, that friend passed away so the bracelet went to her mom. The mom gave it back to the nurse because she felt that the nurse was the reason they kept all this strength. It was just such a beautiful story. Even if it doesn't make it out of a 4 person square, it really does help to show how these bracelets are impacting others.
There were moms on infertility journeys. That's such a difficult thing to go through and these people were wearing their bracelets throughout the whole experience and ultimately getting pregnant, having their baby and sending me pictures with their babies in their arms. That's such an incredible thing.
It’s so humbling that people wear these bracelets for things that I would never have thought. I guess I always hoped, but I never would have expected that it would mean so much to these people. I love the juxtaposition of “Little Words Project” with the large impact that it can have.”
9. Passion Pays it Forward
Passion doesn’t stay stagnant. It grows and since you can’t help talking about what you’re dreams are, you inspire others. Adriana and her team are taking active steps to give back the things they’ve learned and spread more positivity in their community.
“We’re launching a non-profit called The Block (Bold Leaders Organizing Communities of Kindness). It’s all about inspiring this exact mission, this very same kindness on college campuses. It's going back to my experiences or rather, what I would have liked to have experienced on college campuses. I wanted a safe place that wasn't just academically driven, or focused on sorority life, but a club where I could learn the ins and outs of growing up as a woman. What are all of the things you have to focus on? What are all of the things you have to worry about? How can we help ease that anxiety, and teach principles of self-love and kindness and confidence? Get them to stop rating themselves as less than their male counterparts, despite their grades being 2.2 points higher on average as far as their GPAs.”
10. Passion Makes You Take the Leap
Adriana also had some simple yet profound advice for our Babes trying to turn their passion into their dream jobs.
“Just start. I know that feels super flippant, but sometimes I think, if I had really known what goes into every single element of building and growing and owning and hiring and running a business, I would have been too timid to start. I'm almost glad I just went for it. One of my favorite quotes is, "In a year you'll be glad you started, so just start." I'm even trying to apply that now. I think just go for it and believe in yourself. At the end of the day it might just lead to unique connections. Who knows you might reach for the stars and reach the moon! The point is that you won't know what might happen if you don’t try. Even if it's not what you thought it would be, it might be something better or different or great. So just go for it!
Thanks to Adriana Carrig and the whole Little Words Project crew for spending some time with us!
Want to share a little kindness with someone?
Join the Nice Girls over at www.littlewordsproject.com where you can buy a bracelet and register your bracelet or visit them on Instagram at @littlewordsproject. Their non-profit, The Block, is now live! Spread some positivity and share their Instagram at @theblockorg.