About a week ago I walked into Kitson on Robertson blvd in West Hollywood. A beautiful Saturday afternoon with a ice coffee in hand, taking my time cruising around, I see these amazing keys by the register. I pick up a few and then start reading each one. "LOVE, INSPIRE, BREATH." I immediately take out my phone and start googling "The Giving Keys". I took a seat outside and this is what I found out…
Miss Caitlin Crosby, a California native singer/songwriter and actress had started it all on her music tour. She had taken her NYC hotel room key and had a local locksmith engrave the word "love" on it. She wore it at her show and got so many compliments on it that when it was time for her next tour, she made a bunch of them to sell at her merch-table. Every night, state to state, the key necklaces would sell-out. Instead of rehearsing and tuning her guitar, she found herself scrambling to find keys and assemble the chains and clasps just to keep up with the demand.
Fate kept knocking at Caitlin's door. Amazing stories started to pour in on her blog of how people were giving and receiving their keys. Some were from family and friends sharing how the key had helped inspire and change peoples lives. A lot of them were even stories coming from people that were total strangers. "Pay it forward" was born. People started giving a key or even their own key to someone who needed its message more than them. The stories were remarkable.
Still through the buzz and all the success, Caitlin knew there was a missing piece to her puzzle. She was at a service at Ecclesia Hollywood and they showed the documentary Invisible Children about child soldiers in Uganda. After, she exited onto Hollywood Blvd with a face full of tears and heart motivated to action. She saw a couple across the street, sitting under an umbrella with a sign that said "Ugly, Hungry & Homeless". 23 year old Rob and Cera had spent the better years of their lives on the streets. She took them to dinner that night and by the end she asked them to be her business partners.
The next day, she went to Pep Boys to buy hammers, and to a locksmith to buy an engraving kit. Caitlin started meeting Rob and Cera on street corners and in alley ways to pay them cash in exchange for paper bags full of keys. This hardworking team laid the foundation for what The Giving Keys has become. As the business grew, Rob and Cera started saving enough to stay in a motel and eventually they both got their own apartments. Rob got his GED (in the 98th percentile!) and is currently going to college. Cera got a job at the San Diego Zoo and is studying to be a nutritionist. They both still work for The Giving Keys part-time.
Thanks to Rob and Cera's experience, the mission of The Giving Keys was revealed.
Caitlin fulfilled her wish to incorporate a way to contribute to the community and now only employs people working to transition out of homelessness.
Not only are the keys cool and different to wear, there is a bold statement of giving, and inspiration that comes with them. The Giving Keys are now carried in 200+ stores in the US & Internationally including Fred Segal, Kitson and Opening Ceremony. You can buy them online at www.theigivingkeys.com as well. Don't forget to blog your story and add to the community of givers. Please leave a comment anywhere on our site. We would love to hear your stories as well!