In the face of so many social and political injustices, we should do what is in our power to help the disadvantaged and to advocate for the movements we are passionate about. Depending on one’s personal circumstances, this can come in a multitude of forms, all of which affects the extent of what one is able to contribute. Starting or engaging in conversations about injustice is a way to spread awareness and to help those who are disadvantaged.
For people who perhaps have more flexibility in their schedule, volunteering is a more hands-on way to help the community. For people who are financially privileged, donating money to disadvantaged groups or to a cause can make a world of difference. Everybody has different capabilities depending on their situation, but whether it’s through donating money or through simply spreading awareness, anything can make a difference. What can be done should be done.
Personally, my contribution is in growing a nonprofit business in which I sell beaded jewelry designed and made by myself. My business started when I began making beaded rings with designs I personally loved. As I started wearing the rings in public, I noticed more and more people showing interest in them. I started making rings for friends and acquaintances because I simply enjoyed coming up with new designs and found it therapeutic to make them, and I enjoyed seeing my friends light up when I’d gift them with a trendy, custom-made piece of jewelry.
After people told me I should start selling my creations, I started to seriously consider doing so. However, I knew that there was something I could do to make my potential business benefit more people than just myself.
Countless social injustices were plaguing my mind around the time I started making jewelry. My home country, Lebanon, was (and still is) dealing with a corrupt government, a terrible economy, a rebellion among the Lebanese people and the worsening pandemic. In the neighboring country of Palestine, thousands of innocent civilians were being killed, injured or displaced. In the U.S., more and more cases of innocent Black people being killed by the police were being reported by various news sources. In California, undocumented Mexican immigrants were unable to make a living during the pandemic.
I had a plethora of social and political issues that I felt strongly about, and I felt a need to contribute anything that would help. I knew that any of the people who were disadvantaged by these social injustices would benefit from the profit made by my business more than I would, as someone privileged with financial stability.
My business model was to pick a number of charities (after doing extensive research on each to ensure reliability) and have customers choose which one of the charities they’d like me to donate the profits of their purchase to. The charities I chose were the Lebanese Red Cross, the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, Black Lives Matter, the California Immigrant Resilience Fund and Giving Green. When a customer is making their choice of charity, they are directed to an infographic I made explaining each charity and the situations of the people they’d be donating to. That way, I am able to inform my customer of the issues I’m passionate about while spreading awareness of said issues and encouraging customers themselves to donate.
My business is called “Fashion for Philanthropy,” or F4P for short. My mission statement is: “Adding confidence into the lives of buyers and support into the lives of strangers.” As F4P began to gain traction, it expanded from selling only rings to selling bracelets, phone accessories, waist chains and necklaces. Eventually, F4P was given the chance to sell at a Pride Month event. From this, the business made a large sum which was donated to the queer Palestinian organization Al Qaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society. Then, F4P was offered a vendor’s booth at the So-so Market in Berkeley. From that, F4P made double the profits to donate to the Trans Women of Color Collective.
Creating F4P made me become more passionate about my hobby and feel empowered by my business. I was proud of the small differences I was able to make for issues I truly cared about.
I was able to turn a hobby into a business that was fun for me and that was positively impactful in the lives of people across the world. I encourage similar small business owners to donate a percentage of their proceeds to a cause they are passionate about or to use their platform to spread awareness.
For those who do not have the means to start or own a small business, volunteering or simply starting a conversation with others is just as important — once again, what can be done should be done. Through altruism and an entrepreneurial spirit, so much can be accomplished and so much of a difference can be made.