Local Dallas entrepreneurs are helping families escape poverty and homelessness through design one household at a time. Dwell With Dignity, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, under the stewardship of Lisa Robison, President and Founder, is making a national impact.
This year, Dwell With Dignity was chosen as YFS Magazine’s benefactor charity for the 2011 Leading Ladies Super Bowl XLV event hosted by Highland Park Village and Modern Luxury Dallas. Editor in Chief, Erica Nicole, of YFS Magazine had a chance to kick back and chat with Lisa on a seventies style donated sofa that she “refurbished, reused, and repurposed” herself to discuss intelligent design and the future of her growing business.
Actionable Non-Profits and Reciprocity
With the help of Executive Director, Kim Turner, Lisa runs an actionable non-profit organization that gives back to the homeless through environmentally conscious design. Dwell With Dignity repurposes homes for self-sustaining households, “inspiring them to maintain a standard of living they can be proud of and thrive in.”
Located in Dallas, Texas, the house turned office, with a rustic and timeless essence sits on a small hill tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Turtle Creek’s busy streets. In the front room of the Dwell With Dignity house, Lisa and Kim shared with Erica Nicole how the house was donated to the organization. Businesses that serve others open the door for reciprocity. This is evident by the fact that the house has been donated to the organization for the next two to ten years.
Designing a Business from the Ground up
Dwell with dignity has humble beginnings, literally from the ground up. “All I wanted from my husband for my birthday was the nest-egg money to start Dwell With Dignity,” Lisa joyfully exclaimed. “Coming from an interior design background, I took time off to look after my son. When it was time for him to attend kindergarten, I was anxious to get back to work.” Like many inspired entrepreneurs her love for design fueled an innovative and underserved client base – the ones who needed inspiring design the most.
Robison’s passion soon focused on people that could not afford good design. Originally, she looked to Habitat for Humanity but soon realized she wanted to begin her own business. She started out in her husband’s warehouse. After her first apartment design for an underprivileged family, she encouraged her friends to bring canned foods to stock the pantry and refrigerator. This inspired following projects. Not only does Dwell With Dignity refurbish and repurpose housing, they also give the family food and prepare the family’s first meal in the newly designed home.
Collaboration by Design
You know you’re onto something great when ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) expresses an interest in working with you. Growing a successful business also yields challenges. Like many small businesses, a need for administration support and systems to organize a growing volunteer base is critical to Dwell with Dignity’s future success. But, these challenges haven’t stopped Robison from making an impact.
Lisa’s initial vision was to remain a private organization, but Dwell With Dignity has been so successful that it is now a public organization with 30% of the funding derived from volunteer-driven fundraising. Lisa realized the importance of grants but always knew, “there has to be another way.” Her new vision is to build Dwell With Dignity into a self-sustaining organization over the next five years and move into more of an oversight role.
The organization has also been able to fund her efforts in unconventional ways. For example, they received many donations through a “blogathon,” where fifty bloggers wrote about their childhood rooms and encouraged readers to donate to Dwell With Dignity. “Through networking and connections, the support of social media is unmatched,” says Robison. She also explained how fast Dwell With Dignity grew based on social media outlets.
Another innovative funding tool for the company is the various local artists who reach out to Dwell With Dignity and choose to donate their work, time and creativity. Robison notes that the volunteers are indeed their greatest assets. The diversity of volunteers Dwell With Dignity has from, of course, interior designers to product designers to even graphic designers is tremendous.
The future for Dwell With Dignity is endless because of the originality of their mission. With their incredible volunteer team, Lisa and Kim only see greater opportunities for the organization. Erica Nicole is proud to support Dwell With Dignity as YFS Magazine’s charitable organization of choice for the 2011 Leading Ladies Super Bowl event hosted by Highland Park Village and Modern Luxury Dallas. For more information about Dwell with Dignity or to donate visit them online at www.DwellwithDignity.org and checkout their blog.
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