Case Study

Would Works

Building skills and financial opportunity for people in need

Would Works artisan seated on a wooden slab sanding a small wooden cutting board by hand.

Would Works is a Social Enterprise based in Los Angeles. They sell hand-crafted wooden products made by artisans who are homeless or living in poverty. Would Works products are sold direct to the public through their online store, and via large commercial commissions.

We provided technical and creative support for their transition to a new and more sustainable operational model.

How we helped

Annual sales revenue increase
Fundraising target exceeded

The Would Works Story

In 2009 Connor Johnson volunteered as a Case Manager at a homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles. He worked with hundreds of people, listening to their hopes and dreams and the obstacles they were facing. Time and time again he would hear them say, “I Would Work... if I could”. This statement became the seed for what Would Works has become today.

People come to Would Works with a financial need and a desire to work in order to meet it. Their goal could be a new pair of eyeglasses, a bus ticket home, or money toward a first month’s rent.

Would Works hosts training programs where clients make products and become woodworking artisans along the way. As artisans, they leave Would Works with a job reference, the resources to meet their financial need, and newly acquired woodworking capabilities.

Laptop and mobile phone device mockups of the Would Works website.

Key Contributions

Transitioning to a sustainable model

In 2016 Would Works set in motion a series of operational changes informed by a new vision of the enterprise. It was oriented towards achieving economic sustainability and involved growing production, sales, outreach, and impact.

In order to reach their objectives they needed outside help in technical, creative, and user experience related matters. We came aboard to help with the transition and contributed across a range of areas including:

The backdrop of our contributions was to establish systems that could be maintained and built upon in measured and practical ways in the years to come.

They succeeded in achieving their vision. One of the most noteworthy validations of all their hard work was a 1000% increase in their web store’s annual revenue since the new site launched.

Getting clear on content

We collaborated with the Would Works team to fine tune their approach to content and brand messaging. We successfully established a content framework that addressed their spectrum of needs from high-level strategy through to detailed microcopy.

Sharing tales of transformation

The history of Would Works is replete with tales of individual transformation. The previous site had some great high-level messaging around their mission but it didn’t touch on the stories of individuals as well as it could.

As we worked through the project many wonderful stories emerged. It became clear to all that they needed to manifest on the new site. So we established a new content section to profile Would Work Artisans.

These Artisan profiles often include a background story of:

These profiles connect real people to the products sold in the store. But more importantly they play an important part in documenting the complex nature of homelessness, and how in many instances all it takes is a handful of events to turn stability into poverty.

A fundraising campaign that exceeded expectations.

In 2017, Would Works teamed up with Nick Offerman for a fundraising campaign. If successful, the campaign would fund improvements to staffing and infrastructure, thereby enabling continued operation for at least two more years.

Laptop device mockup of a Would Works fundraising campaign page on the website.

We provided research, advice, and assistance with the campaign’s technical implementation on their website and social channels.

The campaign was a resounding success. Donations exceeded their initial and extended targets, and resulted in more than $48,000 raised.

Working with Aveling Ray was an amazing experience.

They helped us redesign our website and guided it to reach a capacity beyond what we had imagined.

They partnered with us to evaluate and analyze our business practices and online presence. Listening to our ideas and business needs and coming back with thoughtful and elegant ways to realize them.

We learned a lot throughout the process and the result is stunning. We are extremely happy with their work.

Connor Johnson
Founder & Board Chair
Would Works

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