Olivia Wilde Is Helping the World Re-think How We Give

Most Popular
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Who: Olivia Wilde, Cofounder, Conscious Commerce

Most Popular

Day Job: Actress.

Driving Force: In the Kolkata, India, slum of Kalighat, prostitution is a family business—passed on from mothers, themselves sometimes born into sex slavery, to their unwitting daughters, who can be forced to take up the trade as early as age 13. Even children who are spared live in unspeakable conditions, sleeping in the same rooms where their mothers see clients. It's the kind of thing that can be so depressing that it's hard to know where to begin, which is what makes 30-year-old Olivia Wilde's Conscious Commerce so inspiring.

Griping for Good: "I don't mean to sound ungrateful to the people who give money to charities," Wilde says. "But I yearn for a better way, a more consistent way, to give." It's an odd sentiment coming from someone who spends as much time as Wilde does raising money, most prominently as a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice, which focuses on education, health care, and the arts in Haiti. But it's also fitting that Wilde—who was born to journalist parents and whose big sister is a civil rights lawyer—would raise her voice against the philanthropic status quo. It's a system, she says, "where people think: I'm going to live my life and not really think about the developing world, and then on Christmas, I'll cut a check."



The Big Idea: Wilde launched Conscious Commerce with her friend Barbara Burchfield. Last October, the pair hooked up with Anthropologie and designer Yoana Baraschi to create and sell a tea dress, donating $100,000 in proceeds to New Light, which works to keep Kolkata girls from being forced into the sex trade.

The Big Picture: "There's a certain amount of cynicism connected to philanthropy," Wilde says. "But I'm optimistic. I want to show people not to lose hope."

Get Involved: consciousco.co or donate to Shining Hope for Communities or New Light

Related: 19 Other Women Who Are Changing the World

Photo via Peter Hapak

Jessica Jones on Netflix
Culture
Share
Netflix Can Predict Exactly What You'll Click On—and Why
They know you better than you know yourself. Creepy.
Culture
Share
"You Physically Cannot Get Out of Bed": Ally Hilfiger Opens Up About Her Battle with Lyme Disease
Ally Hilfiger's hellish journey to a Lyme Disease diagnosis
Hamilton on Broadway
Culture
Share
'Hamilton' Set to Clean Up at the Tonys with a Record-Breaking 16 Nominations
See the full list of nominations nominations for Broadway's biggest night.
Culture
Share
All the Must-See Looks from the 2016 Met Gala Red Carpet
Prepare yourselves.
Culture
Share
This Snapchat Love Story Just Took Missed Connections to a Whole New Level
​We were riveted. ​
Culture
Share
Why Lesbian History Needs to Go Digital
The founder of the popular Instagram @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y sets the record straight.​
Misty Copeland Barbie
Culture
Share
Misty Copeland Now Has Her Own Equally Fabulous Barbie Doll
The doll can even pose en pointe, too.
Culture
Share
Meet the 21 Badass Women Changing the Food World as We Know It
The James Beard Foundation's 2016 female nominees are forces of nature.
Culture
Share
Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Clothes
Just think about where your clothes have been.​
Tarot Cards
Culture
Share
Your Weekly Tarot Reading
​Here's what's in the cards for you the week of May 2.​