BANGS Shoes set to launch new line while extending reach of helping hand

Hannah Davis says the support she has received has been pretty surreal sometimes. The Columbia native now lives in New York City, as the company she founded in an effort to combine fashion and philanthropy continues to grow and prepares for the launch of a new line.

BANGS founder Hannah Davis shows off a pair of the company's shoes (photo provided).

BANGS Shoes founder Hannah Davis shows off a pair of the company’s shoes. (photo provided)

BANGS Shoes began as an idea when Davis was teaching English in China.

“I discovered a pair of funky, old-school Chinese work shoes. This discovery paired with the belief that getting rid of poverty requires us to help people help themselves inspired BANGS Shoes,” she explains on the BANGS website.

Davis said she sees two schools of thought regarding ways to help those in need. One is to care for immediate needs like providing free meals for the hungry. The second is the idea of long-term change.

“There’s a way to work with people to effect change in the long run,” she said.

Davis is attempting to do just that by donating 20 percent of all BANGS Shoes net profits to a nonprofit organization called Kiva, which loans money to entrepreneurs around the world, helping them escape poverty by starting their own businesses.

“It instills a sense of empowerment and dignity,” Davis said. “It gives people tools to help themselves.”

The initial BANGS Shoes line was a success, leading to Davis’ decision to relocate from Charleston to New York. She said she misses her South Carolina home but that “the resources available in New York are just amazing, and it’s given me a chance to get more people involved.”

Davis launched a Kickstarter campaign for BANGS Shoes last month to fund the launch of a second line of shoes that Davis says will be “a better version of the last. We’ve improved the comfort and the look.” The campaign began with a goal of $7,000, but supporters of the shoes and the cause already have pledged more than double that amount.

The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, and Davis says that while the goal has been met, “the more the better.” She said the additional donations mean the company will be able to do more, produce more and thus help more people through the donations to Kiva.

Davis chose to partner with Kiva after hearing about the organization through fellow Columbia native Julie Kriegshaber. Davis said one of the best things about Kiva is that it is “so transparent. You can see exactly where the money goes.”

The new line of shoes, BANGS 2.0, is expected to make its debut in the spring of 2015.

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