I was contacted recently by Brad Wirz, the founder of a remarkable new company set up to benefit people in parts of the world where reading is a luxurious privilege not open to everyone. It's very hard to imagine not having access to libraries, teachers and books in our societies so when Brad wrote and said that 100%of the profits that are made from the gifts they sell go towards making reading and literacy a real possibility in the developing world, I was very happy to help spread the word! I think you'll be particularly interested in the range of
Jane Austen Gifts which will not only make fabulous presents, but will be helping others less fortunate than ourselves.
I also love the fact that Brad has risen to the challenge of attempting to read Jane Austen himself, and you can read his thoughts on our favourite author.
Gone Reading International – maker of the GoneReading brand of gifts for readers – was founded to bring the magic of reading
to places where it doesn’t exist. “We believe that when people have open access to great reading materials, life always changes
for the better,” says founder Brad Wirz.
That’s why GoneReading, founded in 2011, has pledged all company profits to fund new reading libraries and other literacy
projects in the developing world. By purchasing GoneReading brand products, you’re changing the world while treating your
friends and family to great gifts.
During a volunteer trip to Central America in 2010, Wirz helped to build a library in the middle of the Honduran jungle.
“Hundreds of villages, thousands of people, had basically no access to books or reading materials at all. That just blew mind," says Wirz. "Six months later I quit my job and ended my 20 year career to try and put books into the hands of all who don't have that advantage," Wirz continues.
The result is GoneReading and its unique brand of gifts for the reading lifestyle. GoneReading gifts feature original designs and slogans. Each design is available for purchase on an array of apparel, drink ware, book bags, baby clothing, pet products and more.
What were you doing before you began GoneReading?
“I had a better-than-I-deserved career in marketing for 20 years. I spent the last 10 running the North American event marketing division of a global
consortium called Euro RSCG.”
What made you want to start an organization like GoneReading?
“Reading has always been my #1 hobby. I can’t imagine a world without books. But one day I read (in a book, oddly enough) that almost a billion people in the world don’t have access to books. They’re basically living in the middle ages. I couldn’t just sit by and let that fact stand.”
Do you remember the exact moment you decided to quit your job?
“Yes. My corporate life had taken its toll. I’ll spare you the details, but I found myself curled up in the fetal position in a hotel room in New York City. I called my wife and said ‘I can’t do this anymore!’ By coincidence I had previously committed to going on a volunteer trip to Honduras in a few weeks’ time. Our project involved helping to build a library in the middle of the Honduran jungle. That’s what got the wheels turning in my mind.”
So how does GoneReading work?
“Rather than start another charity that relies on donations, I decided to put my marketing background to work. We market a lifestyle brand of merchandise and gifts – called GoneReading - specifically for book lovers like you and me. Our current offering consists of original designs, each coupled with a slogan to pique the interest of readers. Our designs are available for purchase on a variety of shirts, mugs, book bags, baby clothes and even dog t-shirts. Everything is available for purchase at www.GoneReading.com. We’re donating 100% of the company profits in perpetuity to fund new libraries in the developing world. We actually wrote that into our corporate charter.”
How do you develop the designs and slogans on your merchandise?
“It’s a collaborative process between myself and an amazing illustrator by the name of Danny Wilson. Danny and I worked together throughout my corporate career. We develop most of the concepts internally, and Danny brings them to life visually. I need to give Danny more credit though, as he developed the entire concept for one of our most popular designs, called Take Me To Your Reader.”
How does all of this actually result in more libraries and literacy projects?
“One of the things learned in the first five minutes while volunteering in Honduras is that I bring absolutely nothing to the physical process of building libraries. Mixing cement is not as much fan as it sounds! That’s why we’re donating 100% of company profits to help fund non-profit organizations that
already specialize in developing libraries in the poorest parts of the world. My wife and I went to India and Nepal earlier this year to meet with such groups, to see the work they are doing on the ground. It’s amazing to see how a simple library can profoundly effect a local community. Reading is a primary tool of self-improvement; without it, you don’t stand a chance.”
I'm sure you'll all agree this is such a fantastic way to bring the gift of reading to everyone. Thank you Brad for contacting me - I'm so happy to help spread the word!