Alum Business Owner Gives Back
Views 112 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 9 - 23 - 2014 | By: Devon White
Westmont alumni have a tendency to leave campus after graduation and blaze wonderful career paths that benefit the greater community. Laurie Wirgler, ’97, is a perfect example of a Westmont alumna who responded to a God-given calling: to act on behalf of human trafficking victims.
Wirgler started a baby clothing company called Laugh that creates a source of income for nonprofits to directly help women and children out of the sex trade industry. In her interview, she said her goal was to “create a for-profit organization that delivered excellent product to customers that does something amazing for the world.”
Wirgler also shared, “[I saw that there were] a lot of different people doing amazing things in product development and people who were doing amazing things in social justice.”
However, she did not see the two coming together to create a business model that contributed to the greater good.
“We want our customers to feel like they are getting a really quality product first and foremost. Once they learned the story of why we were doing what we were doing, they move from being a customer to a fan,” said Wirgler.
She continued: “The fact that we happen to give back and help kids is a big bonus for our customers. For us, it is at the heart and core of who we are and why we developed this brand to begin with.”
After hearing the founder of company Love146, Rob Morris, speak at her church, Wirgler said, “I knew I had already wanted to develop a company that would be built on that social justice platform.” She also knew that she was, “looking for something to get passionate about.” Her vision for Laugh was the perfect opportunity.
Wirgler shared that she accompanied one of the original founders of Love146 on a “small mission through all of Southeast Asia, where they [Love 146] predominantly operate.”
She shared, “I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of the girls, in their safehouse, that had been rescued out of the situation that they were in, [as well as speak with] girls who were still in the sex trade industry.”
Wirgler’s main goal was to assess needs so she could help get the girls out of a horrible reality.
After visiting with the people in South Asia as well as human trafficking nonprofits, she explained, “It became apparent to us that what people need is a good source of funding. A lot of these charity organizations spend the bulk of their time fundraising and not really on what their mission is.”
Wirgler states that her goal for her company is “to provide consistent and sustainable funding for the organizations to allow them to do the bulk of the work.”
Wirgler knew that starting a non-profit was a pretty common goal. However, she took a different route after asking herself, “what are the needs [of the non-profits] and how can I best support the great work that already exists instead of forming another non-profit where they compete with one another for the available funding?”
Wirgler is one of the many alumni who have gone on to do truly God-glorifying things with their lives. The Laugh Brand website’s states “At Laugh Brand we believe that our company should have a positive effect on all the people and communities we touch. Our goal is to leave the world in a better place than where we found it.”