The Boston Globe’s Ocean State Innovators Weekly presents a question-and-answer session with Rhode Island innovators who are launching new businesses and nonprofits, conducting groundbreaking research and reshaping the state’s economy. Send tips and suggestions to reporter Alexa Gagosz at [email protected].
Forgo school fundraisers that require you to go door-to-door with treats, host bake sales, tear up raffle tickets, or participate in early morning walk-thons. Forget about fundraising sites and Facebook invitations. A jewelry company in Cranston, RI, found a better way to raise money.
Aerial & Anchor, a jewelry and lifestyle brand founded by Rachel Ajaj and her husband Omar Ajaj, recently launched their Give a headline program, where customers can purchase a box of wristbands to raise funds for a specific program the company supports, or create and purchase a personalized box of handcuffs to raise funds for a cause they care about. As with many of their other products, which carry symbols and sayings that represent daily reminders to “enjoy life in between”, the cuffs will be charms with anchors, rainbows and ribbons against. cancer or the word “hope,” “hero,” or “create.”
Each cuff is handcrafted in their jewelry factory in Cranston that was once owned by Ajaj’s grandfather, Ralph Rafaelian, who owned Cinerama jewelry, and then used by his aunt, Carolyn Rafaelian, who founded Alex and Ani.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
R. Ajaj: My grandfather taught our family how important it is to do good for others and he often raised funds [he created American flag pins where the proceeds would go to veterans during the Vietnam War]. We have always wanted to perpetuate his legacy of charitable work.
It was a priority for us that we make a difference by creating a project-based initiative so that clients always know exactly where the funds are going. We wanted something that can be worn by everyone and shows your support for a specific cause. But we also wanted to be able to donate a significant percentage – 68% – of the proceeds.
Q: Customers can also purchase a single cuff from your website for a project supported by Air & Anchor. What is your first fundraiser?
R. Ajaj: We partnered with the National Autism Association for our first Give A Cuff launch. The specific project that we have chosen to support is their Big Red Safety Box Initiative. About half of children with ASD tend to stray away from a safe environment, which presents unique safety risks and creates extraordinary worry and stress for caregivers. Drowning deaths from wandering incidents remain one of the leading causes of death among people with ASD.
This Big Red Safety Box is a free toolkit offered to families affected by ASD to educate, raise awareness, and provide simple tools that can help them prevent and respond to wandering-related emergencies. Our customers can purchase a single “Hope” armband for $ 25 on our website and we will donate 68% for this initiative.
In less than a month, we have sold enough handcuffs to purchase 40 Big Red Safety Boxes.
Q: Why did you choose this cause?
R. Ajaj: After meeting with Wendy Fournier, president of the NAA, we learned some alarming statistics about ASD and wandering. It was obvious to us to support the NAA, and in particular this Big Red Safety Box initiative. Half of the families with ASD / stray said they had never received any advice or guidance on running away. Having three young children of our own we realize how stressful and scary it can be for parents and caregivers and we wanted to help.
Q: What are the handcuffs made of?
R. Ajaj: All of our cuffs start with a metal base and are hand braided with 12 different color combinations of yarn. The charms are 100 percent brass. We also offer 16 different charms to choose from.
Q: How could someone get involved, if not for their own fundraising?
R. Ajaj: There are three options when it comes to giving an armband.
- Partnership: Establish a cause marketing partnership with Air & Anchor to create a custom armband, priced at $ 25. Air & Anchor will pay 68% of the purchase price to a mutually agreed upon project or initiative. We will also sell on our website. We have had great success with our “Hope” armband for the National Autism Association, and have recently partnered with Peace Love to support mental well-being. We are looking to add a new charity partnership every month.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising: individuals can buy a box of prefabricated handcuffs, in bulk and sell them individually at the price of their choice. Boxes are sold in increments of $ 25 to $ 8 per cuff.
- Create your own cuff: Design your own personalized cuffs for any cause. Choose from 12 different yarn color combinations, choose a charm that suits your reason, select your quantity, and start fundraising.