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Veteran Emily Núñez Cavness Discusses Empathy in the Military

gryphon agency media relations marketingDoreen Lorenzo interviewed Emily Núñez Cavness about her role as a designer and current U.S. Army officer for Co.Design’s Designing Women.

Cavness’ idea for her socially responsible fashion brand, Sword and Plough, began after she attended a conference on social entrepreneurship. Growing up on a military base, Cavness remembered how much surplus waste was generated by the military, and she came up with the idea of repurposing these materials into stylish bags that people would be excited about.

Serving in the military herself, Cavness saw an opportunity to support veterans and veterans’ employment through her business idea. Veterans are involved in every stage of the business, from design, manufacturing, and fulfillment centers to the models that appear on the website. Since its inception, the company has repurposed 40,000 pounds of military waste and donated 10% of profits to veterans nonprofit organizations.

Cavness spoke about her exposure to functional and durable equipment as a major influence over the way she thinks about design and fashion. She believes her experience in the military has helped her become not only a leader but also more creative: “Military service is a challenging, one-of-a-kind leadership opportunity that requires creative thinking and the ability to adapt.”

She believes in the importance of empathy, both within her company and within the military, and considers it necessary for understanding how to motivate others and how to develop trust within teams.

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