COVID-19 is putting a strain on already under-resourced hospitals across the country. The number of patients needing hospitalization has increased dramatically with the addition of many coronavirus patients on top of other patients.
In response, four San Francisco Bay Area teens started a handmade jewelry business called Hearts 4 COVID that’s donating all of its profits to a COVID-19 relief fund at their local hospital, the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame.
YR Media spoke with co-founder Sophia Qin, a junior at Crystal Springs Uplands School, about what inspired her and her friends to start this business.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
YR Media: How did you and your friends start Hearts 4 COVID?
Sophia Qin: We started this during our spring break, and this was kind of the moment where COVID-19 was pretty much at its peak. I guess some sources of inspiration were just that on Instagram, a lot of our peers and other teenagers were starting organizations that were doing similar things, whether that be making friendship bracelets and selling [them] and then donating to mask relief or some COVID-19 fund or just setting up these GoFundMes.
I was just tired of doing nothing about it. Because there were so many great ideas out there, we thought, why not just make our own jewelry business on Instagram so that we can do our part in helping with the pandemic.
YR: What motivated you to start it?
SQ: What motivated me was mostly that I was just staying at home. There isn't that much work to do at school and we have a lot more time. With that time on my hands, I wanted to do something productive and meaningful.
YR: What got you into the jewelry side of it?
SQ: I came up with this idea that we should do something to donate to the local hospital that I volunteer at. Originally, we had a whole list of ideas, but my friend Olivia and a few others already had these jewelry materials, so we thought that would be a good way to start. As a friend group, we're all pretty crafty. We like making art. We like making things in general. That made this a perfect little project for us.
YR: How do you make the jewelry?
SQ: For the pieces that we have right now, we ordered things off of Amazon, Etsy, just pieces like pliers and earring hooks. We just looked at tutorials and tried to make our own design, which is what we're selling. So far, since we've only been doing this for about a month, we've mostly been making out-of-pocket payments. But we're thinking that as donations start to increase, and we get a good amount of donations, we're going to only be donating our profits to the hospital. That means we're going to get refunded for all the materials and things that we buy.
YR: How much have you raised so far?
SQ: So far, we've raised almost $3,000, and our goal is $5,000, but I think our goal is probably going to increase once we reach that. We started out using Venmo and PayPal, but we just wanted one centralized place where we could keep track of our progress, so everything is in our GoFundMe. I think that all the people that have donated or even bought our things are making a really great impact right now and we're just the vessel that people are going through to help with COVID relief. We've had a lot of fun making jewelry and creating this little business. It's definitely given us exposure to how to run a business and how to publicize and how to fundraise.
YR: What kind of feedback have you received about your work?
SQ: We're getting a lot of positive feedback from family and friends and just community members in general. It's pretty amazing, actually, because once we were featured on the local news channel, we got a lot more people to buy our things — people that we didn't even know. I think it's definitely blown up in the past few weeks.
YR: Why do you think it's important to raise funds for local hospitals right now?
SQ: Our local hospital (Mills-Peninsula Hospital) that we're donating to has a lot of COVID-19 patients. The number is definitely decreasing, but I think it's especially important to donate to local hospitals because those are the hospitals where our community members go, whether we know them or not. They're part of our community.