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Review: Ban.do (Supporting Female Artists By Shopping?)

Over the past several years I noticed colleagues and friends with planners and calendar books of similar colors, styles, patterns, and bearing similar catch phrases (i.e. “I am very busy”). But it didn’t seem like they were coming from the local Barnes and Noble. Although I typically used digital means for organization, there’s certainly a lack of appreciation for hard copy notebooks and scheduling systems, particularly ones with catchy designs and interesting aesthetics. When a former colleague told me about the company she had purchased her planner from, a female-led organization in support of local female artists and vendors, it warranted further investigation, as I had initially figured the brand was simply popular or trending on Amazon. But it seemed the benefits of supporting the manufacturer exceeded efficient multi-tasking ability, which assuredly is quite the benefit alone. In researching ban.do, the company not only supports ideas of positivity, optimism, healthcare, and female artists (who contribute to the company and can act as vendors to the site), they carry a wide arrange of product from notebooks to roller-skates to home goods. The lifestyle brand caters to a large consumer base demographic, with prices ranging from $3 to hundreds, depending on item and style. I personally appreciate the writing supplies, pens, stickers, office accessories, and planners- but others can find a variety of products available, ranging in category completely. Graphic tees, shoes, fragrance, wall decor, and tech gadgets are also available, particularly for those who favor digital scheduling or writing.

The greatest factor of differentiation here seemed to be in company values and the ability to support social action and cause via purchase, but the catchy aesthetic certainly doesn’t hurt either. There’s an added factor of hard copy versions of everything becoming obsolete in a digital era, and feeling like a special treat when purchased or used. Again, if anything can lend itself to more efficient tasking ability as well as an added benefit of supporting artists, it’s a cause we can both support and benefit from professionally. So I decided to purchase a couple of products and review the quality, design, and style of each- but also review the company background and advocate for their vision based in social support and action. Ban.do supports women in writing and the arts, partnering with hundreds of affiliate vendors to distribute goods, and even selecting different female leaders in the arts to feature and promote, and they support various other charities as well. The company founder has spearheaded several initiatives to promote healthcare efforts for both women and men, and continues to donate proceeds and time to beneficial community causes, even though, suffice to say she’s “very busy.”

Company Background

California-based lifestyle brand and manufacturing company ban.do was founded by CEO Jen Gotch, initially as a hair accessories company. After numerous features in newsletters and publications, the company hired on employees, developed a growing office and started selling to clothing manufacturers (the products can still be found in different retail and wholesale accounts, as well as online or via app). In 2012, the company began expanding into different product categories- becoming an entire lifestyle brand rather than a niche haircare line. Two years later, when planners were released, the items sold out within two weeks. They developed a free business advice series, pop up collections of select brands, as well as new clothing and handbag collections. During this time period, different philanthropic causes were also supported, and different initiatives were launched by the company to advocate for social and healthcare causes. Specifically, ban.do partners with different mental health campaigns, to advocate for increased awareness about depression, and supports positivity, optimism, and helping to decrease levels of anxiety- for all, not simply the consumer. The company founder created necklaces and donated all proceeds to mental health campaign efforts. Additionally, the company uses models of all backgrounds, sizes, and proportions. Finally, partnerships are developed with female artists (of varying backgrounds, design aesthetics, and type of art). These women are subsequently promoted by the website and assigned profiles which are linked back to personal websites and portfolios. In the artists section, you’ll find everyone from Brooklyn based pattern and graphic designers to illustrators in France with specialties in avant-gardism.

Product Reviews

While there are thousands of options to select from and all cater to different concerns, lifestyles, and product categories, I tried to review some of the bestselling and most popular SKUs for the company in general. I found the overall quality and design to be excellent, and had no problems with any of the products or items at all.

13-Month Planner

I got this product (medium sized) after seeing it online and seeing friends use and adore it. It features the “I am very busy” script on the outside as well as yearly, monthly, and weekly views, as well as to-do lists, stickers, and artwork from affiliated artists. There’s space to write down lists, reminders, and day-to-day plans. I felt extremely organized using a more traditional hard-copy planner, and somehow it seemed to lend itself more to efficiency processes than simple phone notes and calendar functions.

Review: Ban.do (Supporting Female Artists By Shopping?) 1
Image Credit: ban.do

Blush Hush Earrings

These came highly recommended under the “Jen’s favorite things” collection (in reference to the company founder). While they were a bit more eclectic than my typical taste preferences, I thought they seemed fun, and moderately priced, so I tried them out. The earrings are laser cut acrylic with sequins, and were pretty adorable to test out- they did garner many compliments and felt a bit “daring.” The accessories line is quite popular, and I opted for this category because the price point was a bit more manageable than the clothing or shoes selection.

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Image Credit: ban.do

Ultimate Planner Pack

This was the perfect companion piece for the hard-copy planner, and perfect for anyone who loves organization. The kit comes with an eraser, tape, stickers, pencils, and snap-in to-do lists. While the planner itself alone is a great product, this is a nice addition to have, especially if you love creating lists. Everything comes in a cute pearlescent bag that’s easy to travel with and quite portable. I really appreciate the addition of local art, and the diversity of product supplied within the kit. Haven’t felt this organized in some time.

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Image Credit: ban.do

Le Pen Box Set in Lilac

I’ve previously used Le Pen, and find the pens to be the highest quality I’ve tried with great last. The only issue is losing or misplacing them, as they can be costly for pens. The box set in lilac had beautiful shades of color, all in the same great quality and product longevity. Of course, there are a variety of color choices if you prefer a specific shade, more traditional color, or an assortment pack. This box supplied colors ranging from light lilac to deep purple, and I was pleased to say I did not lose or misplace any (I suppose newfound organization helped this as well).

Review: Ban.do (Supporting Female Artists By Shopping?) 4
Image Credit: ban.do

Positives and Negatives

The overwhelming majority of experience I’ve had using the site, the items themselves, and the company direction (where your money is going, in this case), has been quite positive. I would certainly recommend it to all. I haven’t found any issues or concerns with any purchased products at all, the only downside is in price- for more costly items and lifestyle categories. I generally purchase items at lower price points, but certainly there are categories I wish I could afford to purchase from. With that said, items like art and decor that are priced a bit higher are still both funding great causes and helping to support vendor partners/artists, whose work is quite valuable, and it’s difficult to value art/writing/craft.

Pros

  • Product quality- durable, functional, and great aesthetics, I love all of the products I’ve tried and would highly recommend them
  • Company supports broad base of female artists, promoting their aesthetics and businesses
  • Company donates to multiple charities and supports social causes, donating some proceeds directly to these initiatives
  • Company supports and uses models of all sizes and backgrounds, for the website, the app and social media marketing
  • Range of product- the overall lifestyle site covers a wide range of different categories, you can find everything in one place
  • Wall art and decor is supplied by local artists, who are able to profit off craft
  • Price diversity- affordable items can be found, while some are pricier, appealing to a broader audience
  • The planners and hard copy stationery offer some nostalgia, as we continue in a digital era
  • Return policy- customers are offered a full refund if there is any issue with any of the products, this applies to sale items as well
  • Sales: the company frequently does sales with generous discounts, even on bestselling items (not simply overstocked merchandise), it’s quite unusual to see a top seller at a discounted rate
  • Pens, stationary, journals and writing supplies come in a variety of styles, making the selection perfect for artists, writer and busy professionals
  • Company started as a very small startup and has managed to experience growth with transparent practices very quickly, as well as fund new positions and create jobs
  • Hard copy and traditional agendas and planners (the most popular items for the company), are trending again even in a digital era
  • Numerous factors of differentiation make both the product quality and company vision unique and superior to other competitors

Cons

  • The only con with the company I’ve found, generally, is price. While there are an assortment of low to moderately priced accessories and items to select from, when purchasing home goods, clothing, or shoes, prices can be quite steep. Popular bathmats run at around $60, with shoes at around $60 for styles that can seem plain.
Review: Ban.do (Supporting Female Artists By Shopping?) 5
Image Credit: ban.do

The Final Verdict

I really support nothing short of a glowing review for ban.do, their app, overall vision, and quality of product. The platform has helped a variety of charitable causes, and supports local artists and female leaders in the arts. The quality of product itself is excellent, with catchy designs and really unique aesthetics. If there’s ever an opportunity to purchase goods that are great in quality across a variety of categories at once, and support philanthropic efforts at the same time, I’ll certainly take it. I really recommend the planners, stationary, office decor, and smaller accessory type products. They prove durable, functional, and fun! I would certainly recommend the brand and all of the products without any reservations. Again, the single downside I found was simply in price point- but it’s important to bear in mind that because of the lifestyle nature of the brand and number of categories supported, the company still caters to all demographics and price points. So while it may be tough to afford wall art or fancier decor, planners and stationary that will last over the course of a year will run you about $15 or so, which is a pretty significant value. Theres the additional benefit of added professional and personal organization, which in an age of being perpetually “very busy,” is invaluable.


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