I essentially spent this past summer as a couch potato and dog sitter, but I also had the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for a few companies. Some of you might be asking what exactly a brand ambassador is, and others may be saying, “Maddie, please stop posting on Instagram, we get it.” Either way, a brand ambassador or representative works with certain companies that are trying to promote their brand and products, using social media outlets to spread the word about new items and some really cool deals.

This past summer I began my journey as a brand ambassador for Pura Vida Bracelets and Serengetee. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but both companies were extremely helpful with any and all questions that I had.

Pura Vida is a jewelry company based in San Diego that partners with artisans in Costa Rica who create beautiful bracelets, necklaces and rings. All of their products are hand-crafted with the guarantee that purchases support artisans by giving them full-time jobs. Pura Vida also has a charity collection that pairs purchases with certain charities, helping to support about 200 different charities worldwide.

My experience with Pura Vida was a blast. I was already a fan of their products and owned a ton of their bracelets — I had even gifted a few to my friends. They set me up with a discount code to share with family and friends and then it was up to me to decide how to promote their company. Pura Vida hands off the information and then lets their ambassadors set sail on their own. They didn’t restrict me with what I could post, which was really fun because I had to come up with creative ways to photograph myself and others wearing their products.

The other company that I represented was Serengetee, an up-and-coming clothing company that was started by two college roommates. Their journey began as they spent a semester traveling and collecting fabrics that would later be turned into pockets on T-shirts, tank tops and even sweatshirts. This college dorm room startup has grown immensely in the last five years. With fabrics from over 25 countries, each supporting a different cause, Serengetee promotes “wearing a piece of the world.” Serengetee gives back 10 percent of their profits to a variety of causes around the world in order to support the communities where the fabrics come from.

Serengetee organizes their representatives into various regions in order to create a structured program. There are rep leaders in charge of regions who lead competitions, send out information and spread positivity. This allows for many opportunities to befriend other reps and even meet up with them. Serengetee reps participate in competitions to earn points, which can be redeemed at the end of each semester, following the submission of an end of term rep project. At the end of the term, the winning rep project wins a trip to Guatemala with the Serengetee team.

I had the opportunity to work with two of my favorite companies along with the chance to meet new people who were equally as passionate about what we were doing. Both companies run their representative/ambassador programs differently, but both run effectively. Working as a representative was a wonderful opportunity that gave me marketing experience and the chance to branch out of my comfort zone, especially when it came to adventuring around. I would highly recommend looking into your favorite companies to see if they have rep programs and even look for ones at companies that you wouldn’t have even thought about working with. These companies gave me insight into the world where people are just as passionate as I am about exploring and sporting artisans all over the world.