It Girls have a certain something; their sparkle touches the world and makes it a little better. Gianna Driver, this issue’s It Girl, is determined to make the world a lot better. Her company, called GIANNA, teaches women from developing nations how to lead more empowered lives.
This sounds like a daunting task, but Driver’s background is the perfect recipe. Born to a Texas cattle farmer and a Filipino mother, her parents divorced and she spent her early childhood in a women’s shelter that her mother managed. Her mother worked three jobs to give Ms. Driver the American Dream, and they both succeeded: Overcoming poverty, Driver graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and soon went to work in corporate insurance in San Francisco. But something was missing.
Driver explains, “I asked myself, ‘What am I doing for my world, my community?’ Because I couldn’t answer that, I felt unfilled. If I could do anything in the world, what could I do? And that started a reflective journey. I realized that I wanted to work with women like my mom, and give them better options, which could lead to a better life.”
Driver resigned from her position and went to Southeast Asia, and the first incarnation of GIANNA was born.
Today, Driver, with her long dark hair, almond-shaped eyes and Village-chic-meets-corporate-chick aesthetic, runs a devoted fair trade business. The company offers home goods and scarves from women artisans in underprivileged countries such as the Philippines and Laos; the items are handmade using centuries-old traditions. “We use the process of creating products to empower them and teach them about fair trade, and how they can make a difference in their communities,” Driver says.
Her website connects the customer with the product and with the artisan. Each artisan has her own page that outlines her personal story, her dreams, and how GIANNA has made a difference in her life. Every silky scarf, fluffy pillow, and wine bottle holder is made by hand and has a story.
Driver lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, known for its progressive nature and environmentally-friendly initiatives. Her husband is the Executive Director and co-founder of Spark, a non-profit organization that connects school kids with mentors who have the student’s “dream job.” Living in such goodness doesn’t detract from Ms. Driver’s appreciation of a slightly dirty joke told over a glass of champagne… Although her preferred beverage is genmaicha, a Japanese green tea.
Her motivation is simple: “I’m driven by wanting to be an example of my values, and to show women how we are connected to each other. American women have purchasing power that has global impact. The women artisans create a product that symbolizes their own transformation. GIANNA bridges those worlds and keeps the cycle going.”
With such style, determination, and spirit, Gianna Driver is truly an It Girl!
To see amazing products and artisans, visit Gianna Fair Trade.