How a shoe repair shop bouncing back from tragedy can be a model for a new economy.
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CNBC's The Profit

Ronda Morrison runs a shoe repair shop in Detroit. It's a family business dating back over 60 years.

And with a name like "House of Morrison Shoe Repair," they obviously want it to stay in the family. That's where Ronda's 25-year-old nephew Keenon came in.


Ronda and Keenon Morrison. Image via New Economy Initiative/Detroit Lives!/Vimeo.

Keenon had worked with Ronda in House of Morrison since he was a kid, learning the ropes to one day run the business, as his grandfather and aunt had done before him.

All GIFs via New Economy Initiative/Detroit Lives!/Vimeo.

But tragedy struck the family, and House of Morrison's future took a turn.

On the July 4, 2014 holiday weekend, Keenon and his 16-year-old brother Kalen died in a car accident. Reeling from the loss, Ronda began to lose her will to keep running the family business.

"My plans went totally down the drain with his death," Ronda told the Detroit Free Press. "When that happened, the House of Morrison's fate was on the chopping block."

Ronda pushed on, deciding that getting back to work might help her cope. And it turned out her timing was perfect.

Before the accident, she'd applied for a $10,000 small business grant with the Detroit New Economy Initiative (NEI). Amid the grief over the loss of her nephews, she had completely forgotten about the application.

But two days after Ronda returned to work, she got a letter.

She took it as a sign that House of Morrison was meant to persevere.

With the money, Ronda can do more than keep the business open. She can help others learn the trade.

The grant gives her a chance to do more of what her father always wanted for House of Morrison. "I'm going to do exactly what my father did," she says. "Open his door to train people out of the community."

Their proposal included launching an apprentice program for members of their community struggling to find work, investing in business software that will help them be more efficient, and opening new locations once they've built up their customer base.

Small businesses like House of Morrison are working to rebuild Detroit through people-centered enterprise.

In 1950, Detroit, a manufacturing powerhouse, was the richest city per capita in the United States. As people flocked to job opportunities in the Motor City, the population swelled to over 1.8 million.

Detroit in 1942. Photo by Arthur Siegel, U.S. Office of War Information/Wikimedia Commons.

But free trade gave companies a way to boost their profits by moving manufacturing operations to countries with cheaper labor and fewer regulations, putting millions of American workers out of work.

And Detroit was in the middle of it all.

The city saw an exodus as the jobless became economic refugees in new cities.

In 2010, the population had shriveled to just over 700,000. And in 2013, Detroit became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Since then, Detroit has become a canvas for creative ideas to spur urban renewal.

And groups like NEI are helping by funding small businesses, like House of Morrison, that "represent the innovation and ingenuity of Detroit's small business market."

As the country continues to bounce back from the Great Recession, we should look to Detroit for ways to do it that go beyond the conventional economics that brought the city and the country to their knees in the first place.

Watch NEI's profile of House of Morrison:

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.