Sword & Plough has been in the making since our founders, sisters Emily and Betsy, were born into a military family. Living at West Point, sharing Thanksgiving dinners with hundreds of soldiers in mess halls, hearing about her dad’s deployments and research, and watching her uncle, a Marine NASA Astronaut pilot, launch his space shuttle, are just a few of the experiences that inspired Emily to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army.
As a student at Middlebury College, Emily was the only ROTC cadet on a campus of 2,450 — most of her friends had never met someone in the military. After her sophomore year, Emily attended the U.S. Army Airborne School where she met soldiers who spoke of the struggles some of their veteran friends faced while attempting to gain employment after military service.
"From the beginning, Sword & Plough has been about more than just creating bags. We’ve always been excited to create high quality products, but our hope was that these products could be used as a platform to promote change." - Emily Núñez Cavness, Co-founder & CEO
All of these experiences culminated in Sword & Plough's creation during Emily's senior year at college. After listening to an inspiring speech by Jacqueline Novagratz during Middlebury’s first social entrepreneurship symposium, a light bulb clicked on – Emily began to think 'What in my life is often discarded and could be turned into something beautiful with a purposeful mission?" How incredible would it be to repurpose military surplus material into durable and fashionable bags that people could use every day? By incorporating veterans into every stage of the business (from design, to sewing, management, fulfillment, sales, even modeling), we could empower veteran employment. Through its branding and outreach, Sword & Plough could help bridge the civil-military divide. The repurposed bags could be used as conversation pieces and the company could become a platform to strengthen understanding between civilians and the veteran community. Inspired to give back to the veteran community through sustainable fashion, Sword & Plough was born!
We’re excited about how far we’ve come since 2012, and we invite you to learn more about our impact here!
Made in AMERICA with care for the PLANET
We empower veteran employment at every stage of our business, including the design process, manufacturing, fulfillment, sales, and even lookbook modeling. Since 2012, Sword & Plough has helped support over 65 veteran jobs through positions on our own team, with our contract manufacturing partners (which are veteran owned or partially staffed by veterans), through our veteran owned fulfillment center, and via our Brand Champion program.
We reduce our waste and minimize our carbon footprint by incorporating thousands of pounds of repurposed military surplus materials in our product line, manufacturing exclusively in the United States, and using recycled materials in our packaging.
Sword & Plough is committed to strengthening civil-military understanding. Our team knows that veterans are highly skilled technical professionals, problem solvers, and proven leaders who are empowering assets to civilian communities and companies. Through our products, social media, email, blog and public speaking opportunities, we work to educate others about the value that veterans provide
Emily Núñez Cavness, Co-Founder and CEO. Emily is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sword & Plough. Emily is also a former U.S. Army officer. Emily channeled her passion for social entrepreneurship, civil-military relations, veteran empowerment, and sustainable design to embody the core values of Sword & Plough. Inspired by her experiences at the U.S. Army Airborne School and childhood growing up in a military family, Emily and her sister Betsy co-founded Sword & Plough in 2012. As a Dell Social Innovation Fellow, Emily gained key insight to strengthen Sword & Plough's three core areas of impact. Emily is the major liaison between our veteran sewers, veteran charities, and communicator of S&P's mission. Emily leads the S&P team and oversees advocacy projects, veteran relations, and key brand relationships. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from Middlebury College.
Betsy Núñez, Co-Founder and COO. Betsy is the COO and Co-Founder at Sword & Plough. As a business professional and strategist with years of experience in sales and education based marketing, Betsy brings a strong operational background to the team. Coming to Sword & Plough as a proven leader and motivator, Betsy has organized multiple philanthropic endeavors in large metropolitan cities in the last seven years. She is also a 2013 Bold Academy Fellow. Passionate and dedicated to driving positive social change, Betsy's goal is to ensure brands, individuals and noteworthy products are given a well deserved and amplified voice. Betsy holds a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University.
Cully Cavness, CFO. Cully believes that dedicated individuals with big dreams can change the world. And as an original member of the team that launched Sword & Plough, Cully believes in the Núñez sisters and their dream to improve outcomes for American military veterans. Cully leads the S&P team primarily in areas of finance and business strategy. He also brings experience from non-profits like Teach For America, The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Break Through. He received his MBA from Oxford and his undergraduate degree in Geology from Middlebury College. After college, Cully completed a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship on the topic of renewable energy entrepreneurship and finance in Iceland, China, Spain and Argentina. Cully previously worked at Petrie Partners, an energy-focused investment bank in Denver. Prior to Petrie Partners, Cully served as the Business Development Manager for Global Geothermal, a UK-based power plant development company that designs, finances and builds power infrastructure in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
Haik Kavookjian, Creative Director. Haik joins the S&P team from the entertainment industry. After working in film distribution and talent, Haik transitioned to the creative side, producing web-based content for companies like Disney and Yahoo. His creative marketing and production experience has helped shape S&P's unique look and brand awareness. As Creative Director, Haik oversees the product development process from design through production, and handles all photography, videography and graphic/web design. He is excited to be sharing his creative and business experience with the Núñez sisters and the rest of the Sword & Plough team. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from Middlebury College.
Laura Keenan, Marketing & Sales Director. Laura is the Marketing and Sales Director for Sword & Plough. Laura served as an active duty United States Army officer for over eleven years before transitioning to the Army National Guard. During her tenure on active duty, Laura served as a Human Resources Officer and as a Congressional Fellow. She deployed to Iraq for over 15 months with the 1st Infantry Division and then went on to serve in the Pentagon, the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and in the White House. After transitioning from active duty, Laura worked at Facebook and at the White House. She holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, an MBA from the University of South Carolina, and a MPS from The George Washington University.
Shelby Black, Community Programs Manager. Shelby is driven by the passion to help people through business and brings a strong sales background to the team. She comes to Sword & Plough with a range of experiences focused on mission-centric products, and is dedicated to promoting people and products that create positive social change. She could not think of a more worthy brand or mission than Sword & Plough's! Shelby has extensive community engagement and sales experience through her time at EF Education First, 5-Hour Energy, and Michael Kors. Shelby holds a B.S. in Communications, Leadership & Civic Engagement from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Zach Greenberg, Strategy Advisor. Zach’s connection to Sword & Plough is inspired, in part, by examples of entrepreneurship, military service, and high-quality bags in his own family heritage. His great-great grandfather was a founding team member of another Colorado bag business, Samsonite, and he is extremely proud of his grandfather, Major Abraham M. Greenberg, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate a concentration camp during World War II. Supporting S&P as a key strategic advisor and as an investor, Zach is honored to help advance the founders’ vision of building a thriving and mission-focused business. He worked at the private equity firm KKR & Co, where he focused his efforts between the healthcare and technology sectors. Prior to KKR, Zach worked in the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley in their San Francisco office, advising clients in the consumer, retail, and industrials sectors. Currently a Bay Area resident, Zach received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, where he was a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement from the School of Earth Sciences.
Thomas Núñez, Business Development Analyst. Thomas empowers the Sword & Plough team with his tenacious research and warm personality. He informs the team about military history and the historical importance of military equipment used in Sword & Plough products. He also helps the team generate and pursue business development and sales opportunities. The son of a Colonel in the U.S. Army, Thomas grew up in a military family and pursued the ROTC experience during college. Thomas strongly believes in Sword & Plough’s mission to empower veterans while reducing waste and strengthening civil-military understanding. Thomas started his career with Sword & Plough in the summer of 2013 at our Mass Challenge office in Boston. In addition to his research, he helped the team pitch at the World Innovation Summit and World Innovation Forum.