Sisters Emily and Betsy Nunez were raised in a military family. So, when they were bit by the entrepreneurial bug in 2012, they knew they wanted to give back. And they are doing just that with their successful accessory and jewelry company, Sword & Plough.
The siblings lived most of their lives at West Point and spent their Thanksgivings and other major holidays with hundreds of soldiers in mess halls. As a student at Middlebury College, Emily joined the ROTC. During her sophomore year, she attended the U.S. Army Airborne School. It was there she met several soldiers who told her how difficult it was to find employment after the military.
“All of these experiences culminated in Sword & Plough’s creation during Emily’s senior year at college,” says the company’s website. “After listening to an inspiring speech by Jacqueline Novagratz during Middlebury’s first social entrepreneurship symposium, a light bulb clicked on – Emily began to think ‘What in my life is often discarded and could be turned into something beautiful with a purposeful mission?’”
Emily wanted to repurpose military surplus material into a usable, stylish line of utilitarian totes and messenger bags and provide jobs for vets in need at the same time. After launching a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, the company saw almost instance success. Backers pledged more than $300,000, more than 10 times their initial goal.
Betsy, a West Chester University grad, left a job with an educational travel company in Boston to concentrate on Sword & Plough.
Sword & Plough pledges that its merchandise is:
- Repurposed with a purpose
- 100% Made in America
- Environmentally friendly
The company’s mission is simple: To empower veteran employment, reduce waste and strengthen shared civil-military understanding.
According to the company’s website, the firm empowers “veteran employment at every stage of our business, including the design process, manufacturing, fulfillment, sales, and even lookbook modeling. Since 2012, Sword & Plough has helped support over 65 veteran jobs through positions on our own team, with our contract manufacturing partners (which are veteran owned or partially staffed by veterans), through our veteran owned fulfillment center, and via our Brand Champion program.”