Inspired by her father’s military career, Emily Núñez Cavness was motivated to become an officer in the U.S. Army since she was a child; however, her passion and dedication for the armed forces didn’t stop there. While serving as an active-duty soldier, she heard of veterans struggling to find jobs. Cavness wanted to bridge the civilian-military divide. She wanted to help.
Cavness and her sister, Betsy Núñez, co-founded a company in 2012 to give back to the military veterans they admire so much. Their company, Sword & Plough works with American manufacturers that employ veterans to transform military surplus into fashionable and functional urban bags and accessories. Their company grew quickly and they needed additional logistics and production-focused staff to meet product demand. They also needed additional capital.
The sisters looked at supplemental ways to raise capital. They heard about the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest through a previous winner and friend, Dana Donofree, founder of AnaOno, an alternative lingerie company. Cavness and Núñez entered the fifth annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, a competition that has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to innovative small-business owners nationwide. Cavness and Núñez needed to convey Sword & Plough’s unique story and how a grant could help their business succeed. Their application showcased their business goals and social impact goals of empowering veteran employment, reducing waste, and strengthening civilian-military understanding.
Their efforts paid off. Sword & Plough was named the grand prize winner – out of more than 4,000 entries – of FedEx’s 2017 Small Business Grant Contest this past April, receiving a $25,000 grant, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office® print and business services to help the sisters grow their business.
“This grant money has given us the means to expand our production and improve our supply chain and inventory management, and most importantly, scale our impact of empowering veteran employment,” said Emily Núñez Cavness, CEO of Sword & Plough. “We’re beyond grateful to FedEx for recognizing Sword & Plough’s quadruple bottom line business model and our dedication to the veteran and military community.”
Sword & Plough also engages FedEx Office® print and business services to produce marketing materials to support its brand ambassador program, staffed primarily by veterans and military spouses. Sword & Plough now has brand champions in 40 states and four countries.
“Sword & Plough demonstrates great passion as it continues to grow and expand its business,” said Becky Huling, vice president of Customer Engagement Marketing at FedEx Services. “Most importantly, the philosophy behind this company of emphasizing the value of veterans in the civilian workforce is vital to our society as a whole.”
The 2018 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest will launch early 2018. To learn more about past winners, visit https://smallbusiness.fedex.com/grant-contest.html.
“This grant money has given us the means to expand our production and improve our supply chain and inventory management, and most importantly, scale our impact of empowering veteran employment.”