3E Love is a social entrepreneurial experiment to change the perception of disability through the International Symbol of Acceptance (our “wheelchair heart symbol”). Members of our community start conversations all over the world simply by wearing merchandise with the 3E Love symbol or promoting the message online through social media.
Stevie Hopkins is the Director of Awesome for 3E Love and has been building the movement since 2009.
If you’ve ever been to an Abilities Expo or other big disability event, or heck, if you’re related to the disability community in any way, you’ve most likely seen the “wheelchair heart.”
However, you may not know the whole story behind the symbol.
It represents a social experiment called 3E Love – and the 3 E’s stand for EMBRACE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER.
Stevie, who is a wheelchair user, motivational speaker and all-around cool dude, believes that if we make an effort to embrace diversity, educate our communities and empower one another – we will LOVE LIFE!
Stevie says it’s all about acceptance.
While he has poured nearly a decade of blood sweat and tears into growing the business and raising awareness about the concept, Stevie will be the first to tell you that 3E Love, the symbol, and the model behind it were his sister’s idea.
Annie’s vision was to create an educational consulting company, but when she passed away in 2009, Stevie stepped in to continue her legacy. Together with their parents and a dedicated team, he has evolved 3E Love into a household name in our community.
The 3E Love brand has reached across the globe, with over 30,000 customers in over 35 countries. Beyond that, hundreds of thousands of people have joined the 3E Love social media communities.
It’s evident from pictures and posts on social media, and what you see at disability-related events, that so many people relate deeply with a positive, inclusive image that represents our community.
People even get the symbol tattooed on their body and there’s an entire portion of the website dedicated to 3E Ink.
Are you already in the 3E Ink club?! Join here!
The movement continues to grow and evolve, even beyond 3E Love and the wheelchair heart symbol.
“One gentleman told me that 3E Love saved his marriage. That was pretty awesome!” Stevie says.
January 20: Mark Your Calendars for the International Day of Acceptance
In 2010, when the first anniversary of Annie’s passing was approaching, Stevie realized he needed to find a way to turn the day into something positive. So, the family gathered their group of customers, which was small at the time.
They asked them to wear their 3E Love shirts and fake tattoos and tell their communities about Annie’s vision and what January 20th would represent – a day of acceptance and love for all.
Today, the International Day of Acceptance has grown to be a global phenomenon. People proudly wear their 3E Love gear, post pictures and celebrate our diversity.
“Some people see the International Day of Acceptance as a holiday completely separate from 3E Love. It has taken on a life of its own.”
The Future for 3E Love
Stevie and his team have all kinds of great ideas for growing 3E Love. He’s interested in incorporating more stories and messages that empower the community. To accomplish that and other marketing goals, they’ve got plans to build and launch a new website over the next year.
Stevie is also motivated to hire more people with disabilities and possibly even create some remote jobs for marketing and sales. And that’s not all.
“Right now our community is loosely connected via the symbol and merchandise, and I would like to create ways to connect them more cohesively via the internet and social events. It would also be incredible to create educational and resource initiatives.”
In the past, 3E Love has raised awareness on issues including national disability issues, the importance of voting and more. When asked what we could expect to see from 3E Love in the near future, Stevie’s response was #MedicaidMatters.
Stay connected on their Facebook Page to keep up to date and get involved!
3E Love: Following a Vision
Stevie has found that the most challenging part about running 3E Love is to make sure all the players understand that the mission drives the business. He explains, “Finding, training and maintaining staff is difficult for any business. I have found that doing so for a passion-based business, and one that is so important to me and my family, is even more difficult. It is not about numbers or profits and we need to constantly maintain a staff that understands that importance behind the message and Annie’s vision.”
Challenges and all – it’s all worth it at the end of the day. If you aspire to be an entrepreneur, start a non-profit, get involved in advocacy and public policy, or are simply yearning to share your big idea, Stevie has some advice for you.
“Just do it. Don’t spend too much time analyzing or being hesitant or making excuses.”
“If you love your idea, and you love the industry that you want to get into, just get into it however you can and see what happens!,” Stevie adds.
Special 3E Love Offers for the Cure Nation
Visit the 3E Love website to learn more and browse their cool products.
friends and followers of the Cure Nation, See the 3e love discounts available to you here!
Plus, you can get 20% Off – Use Coupon Code “SUMMER2017” at Checkout for select products.
If you would like to contact Steve Hopkins for more information about 3E Love, or his public speaking appearances, please see his contact information below.