She glanced my way as I entered the Chinatown Community Development Center and I gave her a smile over my shoulder as something in her eyes cast a feeling of warmth around me. It was such a nice and sunny San Francisco day and I was eager to formally check-in and start my volunteer work, but then was interrupted by someone tapping me on the shoulder.
I turned around to see the same woman -- a small elderly Chinese woman with a wrinkled face and twinkling eyes -- standing there holding her worldly possessions in a small pink plastic bag. Her hands were outstretched with an offering of orange to me. I took her weathered hands in mine and tried to refuse, as I knew this was her only treat after a long and hard day of work. But, in traditional Chinese culture, it would've been even more insulting to refuse her simple yet kind offer Humbly, I thanked her for this gracious gift as I bowed my head out of respect for her.. Little did I know, how much I had gained before volunteer work even "officially" began.
I left that day indebted to this women for teaching me a life lesson that simple efforts can make a difference in the community and people they serve. Fast forward to today -- and my passion -- RipeBrand. What if a piece of fruit could be the seed to inspire us to fulfill the fundamental values of the word "community"?
Inspired by this orange, I wanted to build a brand that would challenge all of us to get involved in the community we live in. My idea ripened and grew into RipeBrand, a clothing company whose sole mission is to encourage people from all walks of life to "get involved" in their local communities. Our strategy is to combine technology with fashion. By doing this, we are connecting real life problems with real people. The RipeBrand shirt is locally made, locally grown cotton and is wearable fashion statement for our generation to demonstrate their willingness to support the community we live in.
With more than 2.3 million young adults living in the L.A. area, I want to use RipeBrand as a catalyst to create a social revolution that rallies us together to generate awareness and get involved in our community. Our core mission is to donate 50 percent of our profits directly to sustainable local non-profits that have been vetted by RIPEBRAND. The other 50 percent is directly reinvested into our technology geared towards enabling easier ways for young adults to connect and find ways to get involved with causes they are passionate it about. Giving back your time and energy to people that surround you is a priceless measure of doing good and inspires growth where it may have been lost.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" --Laozi
There are three easy steps to getting started:
1. Take one afternoon and identify one cause you feel really passionate about. It could be a cause, a community issue -- poverty -- or helping at-risk youth. It just has to be authentic to you and uniquely connects you to your city and community
a. Here's a simple example for me, with my mom approaching her two-year anniversary of winning her fight against breast cancer. I know anything that I can do to help other women that are currently going through this tough time is where I want to spend my time.
b. It's important to be authentic -- the deeper the connection, the more passionate you'll be about getting involved.
2. Do research on the internet by using a site like RipeBrand.org to learn about local non profits in your city that match your passion. Learn more information about how to get involved and if you'd like to spread the word, be an ambassador for RIPEBRAND by wearing one of our tee shirts and talk to people about your cause!
3. Sign up. Make a commitment and work with our partner organizations and community programs to put your passion into action
LA is the first seed that we hope sparks a nationwide movement, so watch out for a RIPEBRAND movement coming to city near you as we continue to grow with the next generation of socially aware non-profit surrounding us. One city at a time, we will ripen the energies of those looking to give something back to community spirit. Then and only then will I start to begin to repay my debt to this woman for her kindness.
Do Good, Feel Good, Look Good.