Back from a nice long weekend and I am feeling so refreshed and inspired. Each day I am looking more and more towards what the future has in store, but am equally able to enjoy the moment that is happening in front of me.
What of my greatest influences this week is that of The Shine Project, a company started by Ashley LeMieux, after spending her senior year of college as an aid in an inner city school in Phoenix. With mentorship and relationships growing with these kids Ashley learned the sad truth that many of these kids had never felt that college was an option for them. Financially it was out of reach and socially it was unexpected. The homes and cultures they had grown up in would leave them to be the first in their families to even consider college.
Ashley started The Shine Scholarship Project in order to raise money for more than 40 students since 2011.
Although the Shine Scholarship Project was a success, Ashley quickly learned that she wanted to do more.
Several months after founding the non profit, Ashley learned of a student’s living conditions. The entire family was sleeping on their tile floor, without blankets or pillows, and the kids were missing school frequently because of a lack of money for bus tickets. Their fridge was empty, their plumbing hadn’t been working, and there was nowhere for the kids to turn for help. Ashley realized that it was hard for a lot of the students to dream about their futures when they were unsure how they would live through the day. She knew she needed to take her passion for these youth one step further and create a for profit business that could employ them, so they could learn important business and life skills, be able to sustain themselves, and have guidance throughout their college experience. She wanted a product that people could wear as a daily reminder that they directly impacted someone’s life, and created a positive change.
In May 2012, Ashley taught herself how to make bracelets. Her goal was to be able to employ the first few students that had received scholarships so they could keep earning money to stay in school, and have real life job experience that could set them up for success in the future. Ashley invested $500 in jewelry supplies and teaching the students how to hand make the jewelry out of her small two bedroom condo. One month later, in June 2012, Threads by The Shine Project launched. Ashley used her social media and friends in the blogging industry to help spread the word about the bracelets that the youth made.
After the first week, all the bracelets were sold out. Some of them were made with Threads, which is where the company got it’s name from. Ashley knew that selling a lot of threaded friendship bracelets would not be efficient since they took too much time, so they started focusing on bracelets with chain.
Since then, The Shine Project has opened their headquarters in downtown Phoenix. It’s a place where students come after school to hand make your jewelry. They are involved in running everything from customer service, shipping, jewelry design, t shirt design, new product design, sales, and events. The students who are given scholarships through the non profit are then given jobs through Threads, so they can be mentored and guided every step of the way.
Hearing of people who see a need and find a way to provide is one of my absolute greatest influences. It’s something I struggle to find ways to do, but am encouraged daily by those that have the passion and drive to take the steps to truly make it happen. Ashley is a great inspiration in this.
Here are a few of the Threads you can find at The Shine Project.
I hope you get a chance to check out The Shine Project and everything they are doing for their community. Let me know what your favorite thing about this movement is in the comments below.