Social good mixed with entrepreneurial consumerism— that’s the blend of business LSTN headphones (pronounced “listen”) is stirring up.
LSTN makes high quality wooden headphones and earbuds. For every pair they sell, they give hearing to a child in a deaf school. Think of them as the TOMS shoes for deaf children.
LSTN works with a global charity called Sound Seekers. Mobile clinics are taken to rural areas in developing countries, where they give children in deaf schools medical exams, fit them for custom hearing aids on the spot, and then provide them with batteries, antibiotics, instructions and everything else they will need to be able to hear. If a hearing aid gets lost or broken, they replace it free of charge. Malaria is a leading cause of deafness, so the organization helps provide mosquito nets to avoid the disease. The entire process is covered by buying LSTN headphones.
LSTN is the brainchild of Bridget Hilton, a music industry marketing executive who also founded Jack’s Soap with the same social good mission. “The big idea is really social entrepreneurship in general. I wear TOMS shoes, Warby Parker glasses, WeWood watches, Krochet Kids hats,”
Bridget is inspired by social good, and a love of music, and nature. “There are millions of children who have never heard laughter, music, nature, their family and friends voices... and I can change their lives by combining the things I love?”
LSTN is part of a generational movement to create brands that combine social good, breaking the status quo, and creating powerful, successful companies on a shoestring. “I think people in my generation and the younger generation are sick of huge corporations that don't do anything good for their employees, the environment, etc. I think social good companies and Benefit Corporations are the future of business in the U.S.”
Of course, doing good isn’t the only component of a successful consumer product company. Quality and customer service is equally important. “We sell extremely high quality products for pretty cheap,” Bridget told me. “If you compare other headphone companies, they are selling the same quality product for sometimes hundreds of dollars more. Our headphones are pretty unique, being made from up-cycled wood. I believe that people will see that we are not ripping anyone off and that their money genuinely goes to helping deaf children hear.”