Brittany Underwood is the CEO of global impact jewelry company The Akola Project. Her life trajectory was altered forever when, in college, she met a Ugandan woman named Sarah. The power of that meeting inspired Brittany’s passion for not only helping women in Uganda, but led her on a journey to create a social impact model to challenge the way we think about philanthropy, and how we help the neediest of populations.
Brittany talks about her big break — a 10 minute meeting with then Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz. That brief pitch (and the power of the Akola story and Brittany’s passion) led to AKOLA becoming a top 10 jewelry brand for NM in their first season — something unheard of for an otherwise known brand. Brittany talks about the difficulty of learning to pivot when she realized her original idea didn’t fully address the challenges she was trying to solve and having to go back to school to find the answers she was looking for. She talks about listening to tough feedback from a mentor who told her in no uncertain terms to “grown up” and “put on her big girl panties!” Brittany talks about how hard it can be to recognize limitations, how to get through burnout, how to be true to yourself and your family, and the role faith has played for her. Her story is both incredibly inspiring and instructive.