Alex Winkelman Zeplain: Citizen and Tribe Leader
Photo: John Pesina
Thanks to social media, today’s young people are exposed to more forms of philanthropy than ever before. But as the saying goes, charity begins at home. It certainly did for young entrepreneur Alex Winkelman Zeplain, founder of Citizen Generation and Hello My Tribe.
“My parents instilled the value of giving back in my life,” Alex says. “And all forms of giving back—time, talent, treasure. They practiced all of these, setting the example for me and my siblings. And when they could, they included us children as well.”
So she was more than prepared to use her own experiences to launch her first nonprofit—Citizen Generation—in 2009 at age 21. Alex’s goal was “to provide a platform for new and young donors to come together around philanthropy.” The organization planned and hosted fundraisers, volunteer days, and community events, and over the course of five years raised over one million dollars, which was distributed to numerous nonprofits.
After the birth of her son in 2014, Alex experienced postpartum depression, isolation, and what she calls “an identity crisis.” While many women understandably find the experience of new motherhood difficult, she decided to turn it into something positive—the formation of Hello My Tribe two years later, which offers community, workout classes, childcare, and content for mothers.
“Hello My Tribe is built on what I needed it in my life and couldn’t find, and on maternal health and postpartum depression research,” Alex says. And while many women may not want to recount such a personal experience, she found it “very freeing to share my struggles. You’ll quickly learn that you are not alone and that lifts a huge weight. And it’s a two way-street. When you share something, you’re normalizing it and letting others know they aren’t alone. Vulnerability can be scary, but it’s worth it.”
Alex tries to keep a balanced view of the ups and downs in her life. “Without failure, we wouldn’t know what success is,” she says. “So, yes, I believe in failure. However, I don’t necessarily feel like I failed, or at least not for long. I tend to approach these experiences as lessons learned. And sometimes it takes a million lessons learned to get it right. I think it’s important to stay focused, to not worry about what others think, and to keep moving forward.”
“Knowing that you aren’t alone in wanting to make the world a better place is powerful—surround yourself with these people.”
Photo: Heather Gallagher
Her socially conscious businesses “have always come from personal experience that life could be improved,” she says. “And luckily, not only for myself, but for those around me. I don’t see any other way than to build a socially conscious brand.”
Alex advises other young people looking to make a living by doing the right thing for people around them to “figure out what’s important to you in terms of your values, what you’re passionate about, and what you need to live a comfortable life. Then, find other people or companies that you align with. Knowing that you aren’t alone in wanting to make the world a better place is powerful—surround yourself with these people.”
And take the advice of generations of flight attendants—“Put your mask on first before assisting others.”
Learn more about Alex and Hello My Tribe at hellomytribe.com.