Karma Builders: Constructing a social enterprise to help rebuild the futures of the formerly incarcerated.

The Challenge:

Launch a start up L3C company (a new category of business that is what’s known as a low-profit company) to transform the lives of formerly incarcerated men and women, while also transforming the sustainable businesses that participate as its clients.

The Truth:

The truth about formerly incarcerated men and women?

“In the State of New York, 89% of all probation or parole violators are unemployed at the time of violation.  People with criminal records have a hard time finding a job due to lack of skills, limited work history and employment discrimination.”                                       From CEO, Center of Employment Opportunities: www.ceoworks.org/

The truth about Karma?

What goes around comes around.  If you want to be a success the best way to get there is to make sure others are successful.

The truth about the non-profit fund raising?

Hundreds of thousands of non-profits compete for funds. If you want to be in the game, you have to be bold, stand out and inspire.

The Beauty:


TBN introduced the Osborne Association’s Green Career Center leader to the founder of Shoji Living.  Out of this, a new business idea was born to give formerly incarcerated men and women green jobs in building sustainable furniture.

The Osborne Association, www.osborneny.org, is a successful 80 year-old non-profit dedicated to training and supporting men and women who are in transition newly out of prison. They are now working in partnership with Karma Builders, and have donated an expansive, beautiful warehouse where formerly incarcerated men and women “Karma Builders” will soon be employed to build sustainable furniture while they rebuild their lives.

TBN came up with and donated the name Karma Builders pro bono to this new organization. And we did all the strategic and brand identity materials at a considerably reduced fee as our contribution to an idea we think is awesome.

During a walk in the woods in Bear State National Park, the founder of Shoji Living, Peter Oppermann, and TBN founder, Paula Dombrow, came up with the idea of doing a portrait of the formerly incarcerated men and women who will be the founding members of Karma Builders and to photograph them in the donated empty warehouse where they will soon be working building sustainable furniture.

Within a couple of weeks a shoot had been set up by TBN with photographer, James Douglas Shields, who came up with the idea of capturing a before and after shot of the same group of men and women “Karma Builders” to show their transformation.  The before shot he proposed would be of 7 men and women in their street clothes, looking tough and resigned. The after shot would be of the same group captured in a similar position but dressed for work looking dignified and confident. These shots will fade in and out of each other on the home page of the web site we designed.

Karma Builders home page

The logo and all collateral and web materials were designed by our amazing team, GrandArmy, grand-army.com. The logo is a symbol of power, dignity, transformation and hand craftsmanship.

We designed the Karma Builders web site.

The Result:

Truth Beauty Now linked up Karma Builders with  established non-profit, The Osborne Association. As a result, a combined forum between the two organizations was created where formerly incarcerated men and women could meet up once a month for business networking and practical support to get employment in the green business sector.


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