The Giving Keys is a jewelry brand with a pressing mission.
The charitable jewelry company is based in Downtown Los Angeles, an area home to scores of stylish shops and chic boutique hotels, but also a formidable, growing population of homeless individuals. (The Los Angeles Times estimates this week that there are roughly 57,800 homeless people in Los Angeles County.)
Caitlin Crosby, owner of The Giving Keys, is trying to chip away at the size of that population one individual at a time using jewelry as a vehicle for change.
The brand, which has adopted the motto, “One job at a time, one key at a time,” employs people transitioning out of homelessness in L.A. Its jewelry features new and recycled metal keys stamped with encouraging, inspirational words, such as Warrior, Dream, and Believe. The pieces are made in a facility just off Downtown’s skid row by craftspeople who at one time or another were homeless in the city.
Their moving stories are featured in a video series on The Giving Keys’ website.
Crosby, an L.A. native who worked as an actress and musician, had a lightbulb moment in 2009 after meeting a young homeless couple on the street. The pair would go on to partner with her in creating the company.
Crosby wrote on the Huffington Post that she took the couple out to dinner and, “The next day I went back to the locksmith and ordered an engraving kit. I bought hammers at Pep Boys to give to [the couple] to start production. We started meeting at various Fed Ex, Kinko’s, post offices, and transitional homes, just to work on the project….We probably looked like we were doing drug deals every time we met in a Hollywood alley where they handed me a small paper bag and I handed them cash.”
The couple, working full-time with Crosby, saved up for an apartment and continued their respective educations. Meanwhile, Crosby (then a jewelry newbie) built a charitable brand that lured top-notch retail partners including L.A.’s Fred Segal.
“The goal is to keep expanding to get as many people employed and off the street as possible,” she said.
Since 2009, Crosby’s employed nearly 100 people working to transition out of life on the streets, according to a press representative for the brand. Furthermore, the company focuses on partnering with local organizations to invest in the futures of their employees; that often includes facilitating opportunities for further education.