Some Lehigh students have been staying busy during quarantine and are finding different ways to help the community and bring attention to social issues.
The Brown and White talked to some students about the ways they are using their creativity to raise awareness for causes important to them.
When her town entered lockdown in March, Tracie Dinh, ‘22, found some jewelry making supplies she had around her house. She made a necklace and posted it on her private Snapchat story to show her friends.
“One person said to me, ‘I’ll pay you to make me one of those,’ and I thought to myself, ‘You know what, I might as well start a business,’” Dinh said.
She started an Instagram account for her business, tbd studios, and she decided to donate a portion of her profits to various charitable organizations.
“While I was doing this, I realized I don’t really need all the profit from this business,” Dinh said. “There’s just so much going on. I wanted to help in any way I could.”
Dinh and tbd studios contributed to the Philadelphia Bailout Fund, which focuses on ending cash bail in Philadelphia. She has also been donating to The Trevor Project, an organization that benefits the LGBTQ+ community, to coincide with Pride Month in June.
Dinh is hoping to expand her business by making a website and sharing new styles. Customers can send a direct message to her on Instagram to purchase jewelry while supporting The Trevor Project.
About a month ago, Ariana Malik, ‘22, decided to create tie-dye masks with a “donate as you are able to” payment.
The proceeds from the masks are donated to a Black Lives Matter organization of the customer’s choice, or the customer can request the option to have Malik pick the company.
Malik recognized that tie-dye is making a reappearance in fashion trends and figured people would enjoy this style of masks.
“I just feel like tie-dye is in right now, and I like that I have the liberty to customize the masks with tie-dying,” Malik said. “My customers know that their money is going to a good cause, and they can choose whatever color they want their mask to be. So, I think that those are two big incentives to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The proceeds from the masks have gone to organizations such as the NAACP, Black Girls Code and the Innocence Project. Malik includes the receipts from donations with the masks that her customers order.
She said she is grateful for the amount of time quarantine has given her to start a project like this.
“I think that my project stemmed from the large amount of time I had, (and) that I can actually do something to make a difference in the world and be a part of something good,” Malik said.
Malik has been publicizing her project through her personal Instagram account and on Facebook. She is currently only distributing the masks in Long Island, where she has been based during quarantine.
When George Floyd was murdered on May 25 and the BLM movement went viral worldwide, Karthick Sivakumar, ‘21, knew he wanted to contribute to the movement in any way he could.
“I decided to start selling masks for the BLM movement mainly because I wanted to try and encourage people who didn’t know if they should say something, to speak and show their support,” Sivakumar said via email.
Sivakumar hopes the masks, which say “I Can’t Breathe,” will incentivize people to donate to this cause and to protect themselves and others from coronavirus.
Zoe Topaz and Jillian Wolfson
Zoe Topaz, ‘21, and Jillian Wolfson, ‘21, didn’t have much design experience before they created their design business on Instagram.
Topaz and Wolfson began designing by exploring Adobe Fresco and Adobe Illustrator and made designs for their friends. They made their Instagram account to both keep track of their designs and showcase them.
They taught themselves through YouTube tutorials and through practice making the designs. They felt as though their illustrations have improved as time goes on.
After Floyd’s murder, the two decided to start charging for their designs and donated the proceeds to the BLM movement and have raised over $100. While the campaign was running, the proceeds went toward the Lehigh Students for BLM fundraising efforts.
“It’s been a fun thing for us to do during quarantine and a good way to give back and do our part with all the things going on right now,” Topaz said.
Since that campaign closed, Topaz and Wolfson have been looking into other causes to donate to and have accepted donations through Venmo.
“I think it is definitely important to give back, especially when we’re doing something that we enjoy doing,” Topaz said. “If we’re making money from what we create, it’s nice to donate to causes that we care about.”