Thirty-one-year-old Edward Bogard uses philanthropic design to give back to his community via his organization SoGiv
. Its mission is to raise awareness and money for charitable causes--through a shoe.
What has kept you in Memphis?
One of the biggest reasons I've chosen to stay in Memphis is to try to reverse the cycle of talented young people who leave and take their talents elsewhere. I, like so many other kids fresh out of college, had the opportunity to leave, but I decided to return after spending four years completing my undergrad in product design at Savannah College of Art and Design
. I had a job offer to design golf clubs in Huntington Beach, California; New York and Philly were also calling my name, but I decided to come back home and birth SoGiv. I felt Memphis needed something like this far more than New York or LA.
Why did you start it?
I started SoGiv to simply give back through my God-given gift of design. I felt I needed to do more, see more, give more than just another cool shoe design, because it's more than that. It's not just because for every pair, we give; it's because before a single pair was sold we gave generously, and not just through monetary donations, but through countless time and effort.
What has been your most rewarding moment after starting your organization?
The day our first adopted school, Cherokee Elementary
, honored the work that we've done for the kids throughout the school year by having SoGiv Day. I was honestly in tears as I drove on the lot to see the janitors emptying the trash in their SoGiv tees smiling and waving at me.
Receiving the Unsung Hero Award by the United Way
after being Keynote Speaker at their Annual Youth Banquet a few months ago was pretty cool too.
What has surprised you about Memphis?
The growth and pride people are starting to take in this great city.
What has challenged you about living here?
The fact that, like the old saying goes, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere . . . I thought they meant New York, but it was Memphis! Memphis is a tough city to birth something in, so to get the amount of support that I've been blessed enough to receive thus far has been great.
What unique opportunities exist for you here?
A ton. Again, it's still a city that's really only starting to be great in my opinion, so I feel I can contribute and make quite an impact in the overall growth and development of the city moving forward and help break molds of showing how we can really work together, because there's enough for everyone.
What other local organizations or initiatives here do you like?
Of course, our partner organizations such as the Mid-South Food Bank
What would you like to see in the future of Memphis philanthropy?
I think we're heading in the right direction. I think I heard the other day that we were one of the most giving cities in America, so to just keep that type of mentality up would make for a tremendous impact in the city's overall well-being.