THE BLOG

Why I Decided to Attach My Business to the Happy Hippie Foundation

06/24/2015 03:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2016

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"Let's face it, most of us are one paycheck away from being homeless. I can't imagine spending all of this time, effort and money to establish a brand that didn't lend itself to a good cause in some way, shape or form. Build a philanthropic foundation for your small business to stand for something!" (JC)

In late May, 2015 I relaunched my fashion and luxury jewelry brand JCARDILLO. Within two weeks of launch I found myself signing a contract to work with TOUCH OF MODERN, a well-known e-commerce website and app focused on selling lifestyle products, fashion, and accessories to men. But, even before this I made a decision for myself, my brand, and my business to work with The Happy Hippie Foundation and donate a portion of all sales to aid in the fight against youth homelessness.

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I had always wanted to work with a charity that, well... spoke to my heart. Then Miley Cyrus launched The Happy Hippie Foundation.

The cause was something that hit close to home. The Happy Hippie Foundation works to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth and other vulnerable populations. I'm proud to say that I'm me... and I'm part of the LGBT community. While I don't understand why it happens, or how it could happen, I do understand that LGBT youth are thrown out on the street every day after coming out to their families.

While my family doesn't agree with (what they call) my "lifestyle choice," they never ostracized me or threw me out on the street for being gay. For this, I am thankful. I can't imagine being told that your family didn't care what happened to you because you decided to accept who you were and how you felt as a person, for your entire life.

Here was this girl, Miley Cyrus, a superstar, using her fame and fortune to support something that actually made a f--king difference in the world.

We don't have to understand all of her social antics. That's the beauty of it. Now that she has your attention, she's taking all of that creative energy and putting it to good use. She sheds light on valid issues and points out inequalities in standards that are considered to be "acceptable" for men and women. In June, 2015 she was the recipient of the amfAR Inspiration Award at the amFAR Inspiration Gala.

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Here are a few statistics pulled from the Happy Hippie Website.

  • 1.6 million youth are homeless each year
  • 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, and family rejection is the most common reason LGBT youth experience homelessness
  • 25% of homeless youth were previously physically or sexually abused
  • Nearly one in three transgender people have been turned away from shelters

They work to provide a combination of basic needs items and support services to empower youth experiencing homelessness. Thanks to donor support, their grant to their local partner, >My Friend's Place will provide:

  • Clean socks and underwear for every young person each time they visit for the next two years (40,000 pairs of underwear and socks)
  • Meals and snacks for every young person each time they visit for the next two years (40,000 meals and 20,000 snacks)
  • Creative arts programming including instructors, supplies and equipment to encourage self-expression and development of youth. Creative arts also help engage youth in other critical support services. Read personal stories about the impact their creative arts programming here.
  • Animal companion programming including pet supplies and care to help build emotional health. Studies show that homeless youth identify pets as companions that provide unconditional love, reduce feelings of loneliness and improved their health status..

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Whether you're a startup or established company... work with a charity! I can't imagine spending all of this time, effort and money to establish a brand that didn't lend itself to a good cause in some way, shape or form. Build a philanthropic foundation for your small business to stand for something!

Here is a list of a few other charities working to make the world a better place.