Philanthropy: Caitlin Crosby, The Giving Keys

This article is part of our Create & Cultivate 100 List created in collaboration with KEDS, you can view the full Philanthropy List Here

Keyed into something good.

Like so many great love stories, it all started in a New York City hotel room. While on tour, actress/songwriter Caitlin Crosby decided to wear her room key as a necklace. Then, had the bright idea to engrave these beautiful old keys with inspirational words. It wasn’t until Caitlin met Rob and Cera, a young couple living on the streets of Los Angeles, and invited them to join her for dinner, that the concept for The Giving Keys truly took shape. Over dinner, she asked them to become her business partners and the pair went to work making keys the very next day. Fast forward a few years and Rob and Cera are still together, gainfully employed and living in San Diego (Rob works at the San Diego Zoo!). The Giving Keys is changing lives through providing jobs and second chances to deserving individuals affected by homelessness.

Now that you know about her company, it’s time to meet the multifaceted woman behind it. Crosby grew up acting and began writing songs about her experiences and struggles behind the scenes. Her first album, Flawz and its accompanying website, tackles self-love in the face of body image issues. From there, she began touring, selling creative merchandise, and sharing women’s stories. Out of this ultimate desire to uplift, The Giving Keys was born.

“Being aware of all the needs in this world, I’m always trying to always think of creative ways to combat them,” shares the 34-year-old philanthropist and founder, who is an avid boxer and passionate body positivity advocate in her down-time. “I always wanted to write songs about issues that people were going through to hopefully encourage them. All of those observations, and trying to strategically create a product and movement that would heal people,” she say, have helped her arrive here.

Today, The Giving Keys is sold in more than 1,200 stores, including Nordstrom and Fred Segal, and has created more than 54 jobs for at-risk individuals. “Seeing our employees who once experienced homelessness flourish within the company and hearing the many stories about people's lives being impacted and changed,” is what keeps Crosby going. ‘We aren't in this to just make money and be fashionable. We exist to change people's lives.”

"We aren't in this to make money. We exist to change people's lives."

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So, now that Crosby has checked collaborating with Oprah off her bucket list (NBD!), will she finally kick her feet up and just chill? Far from it. In addition to expanding The Giving Keys into a full fashion, lifestyle, and apparel brand, she’s also got plans for a mission-based music album, getting back into acting, and two more babies (Oh yea, she just had her first kid amidst all of this massive growth.)

“The ultimate goal is to get as many people off the streets by creating more jobs for individuals trying to transition out of homelessness,” she says. So what’s her best advice for staying grounded and sane? “Be kind to yourself. You are unique for a divine purpose. There's no one else who can do what you do. Embrace all your 'quirks' & so called 'imperfections.' Change your perspective and know that those things make you 'you.' And that's a beautiful thing."