Explore how fashion and lifestyle platform VIDA is supporting the social justice movement by showcasing Black artists and nonprofit efforts.
Umaimah Mendhro, Founder and CEO of VIDA, has been busy.
She ramped up her business dramatically in response to COVID-19, repurposing her artist and artisan-driven direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce platform to produce washable, reusable face masks during the pandemic.
Reflecting on those efforts, she told me that,
The new normal means, with our new protective mask category, we have an even broader product offering than before and that we’re able to provide a more diverse customer base with a product that is critical to limiting the impact of the pandemic… We’ve always been a mission-driven company so we knew from the start that utilizing our core strengths to offer protective masks to customers was right for VIDA.Founder Umaimah Mendhro Explains How VIDA Grew Its Business By Pivoting During COVID-19.
Umaimah also committed VIDA to Brands x Better coalition, promising to give back to COVID-19-related causes and provide added value to consumers during the crisis.
(You can nab a 15% discount coupon off VIDA with promo code bettertogether.)
Supporting the social justice movement
At the same time, she committed her business and network to elevate Black artisans and emphasize their company’s solidarity with the social justice movement.
Umaimah told me that, “at VIDA, we stand in complete, unequivocal solidarity with the fight against systemic racism and injustice towards the Black community in our nation and around the world.”
Through this collection, VIDA is showcasing five Black artists:
- Synthia Saint James, based in Los Angeles, California, “aims to create multicultural respect and unity, lift spirits, and induce feelings of serenity.” designed the first Kwanzaa Stamp for the U.S. Postal Service and the international book cover art for Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale.
- Alicia Jones, based in Brooklyn, New York, focuses her art on human nature and impact on the world. She told VIDA that, “I find that our use—and often abuse—of nature connects to our global abuse of Black Americans and the African diaspora to this day.”
- Stephanie Bell, founder of Byootifulee Hueman, is based in Atlanta, Georgia. She told VIDA that, “I love to paint and digitally illustrate with the intention of uplifting people of color; specifically, Black People. I want Black people to feel confident in themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, etc…You have to know that you are able and you are beautiful.”
- Art Jacobs, based in Spokane, Washington focuses his art on portraits, which are rooted in empathy. He told VIDA that, “empathy is the bridge that can bring cultures, goals, and philosophies into meaningful context.”
- Sheila Hall, who is an active advocate of the importance of arts in education and maintains her own studio in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Their powerful art is available for purchase as home decor and accessories,” said Umaimah.
VIDA showcases their art as funky wall art, iPhone cases, pillow covers, and glass trays, along with clutches and scarves for women.
She notes that 10% of profits from VIDA’s Black Lives Matter collection will go towards causes personally selected by each of the five artists, including Black Women’s Public Policy Institute, Black Women in Visual Art, African American Art and Culture Complex, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, Sigma Tau Chapter, Ivy Community Service Foundation
Forty-five percent of profits will go towards the artists themselves.
In June, VIDA also donated 10% of all proceeds to support Black Lives Matters via the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and The Equal Justice Initiative — and, on June 4, 2020, they donated 100% of profits in honor of George Floyd’s Memorial service.
“In response to systemic racism and BLM, we have donated $15,000 to both of those organizations and will donate 10% of June profits to the cause,” said Umaimah.
This is in addition to the more than 500,000 meals and 5,000 masks that VIDA has donated in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Standing with all Black families and our Black colleagues and friends – artists, makers, entrepreneurs, community leaders, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers – we are committed to using our platform to fight a just fight,” Umaimah added.
Support small businesses and independent artisans
It’s been inspiring to see entrepreneurs like Umaimah step up and take on issues of social justice, seek to support artisans and take steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Trible, CEO of Ledbury (one of my favorite menswear destinations and a great alternative to Brooks Brothers), told me that “if you really love a brand, its product and mission, and have the means to support them, please do.”
He added that, “the support of customers in this challenging time will have a bigger impact on a business than you can imagine.”
I’m sure that’s as true for VIDA and the artists that their platform supports as it is for Ledbury.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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