They launched a charitable bracelet business to give back, not make a fortune, or even pay rent.
They Jared Lucero, 22, and Rachel Stumbo, 21.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they have made their first foray into international commerce, and they landed their first real online customer in New York (who is not a friend or family member) for their $15 Unity bracelet. One bracelet has also sold at Doodlet’s, the only retail outlet right now for YOUnited Threads (younitedthreads.com).
The idea is to donate all proceeds of bracelet sales to the American Red Cross (minus production costs) to fight COVID-19, Lucero and Stumbo said.
They put in an initial order with a Chinese manufacturer for 100 stainless steel Earth charms that are the centerpiece of the bracelet. The couple are weaving the bracelets and assembling them with the charms Stumbo designed.
The first run would raise at most $1,500 (minus expenses) to give to the American Red Cross.
“Just because you can’t give a million dollars doesn’t mean you can’t have an impact,” Stumbo said. “No matter how small the donation, we are all united.”
For Stumbo and Lucero, every $15 purchase counts toward their mission to “prove that your single impact will inspire a ripple of change.” That is how they came up with the business name YOUnited.
Lucero is a recent University of New Mexico graduate and Stumbo is a student at Northeastern University in Boston. He graduated from Santa Fe Prep and she from Desert Academy.
Lucero has a temporary job with the Campus Election Engagement Project, and Stumbo has an internship as a business analyst for audio equipment company Bose.
“When my school closed [in March], I came back,” Stumbo said. “We were just sitting around, doing our part quarantining. We were listening to the news. People were losing jobs, the COVID numbers were going up. We wanted to find a way to pull on our community. What can we give back and symbolize our point, the unity behind it.”
“We started from complete scratch,” Lucero said. “We started with an old bracelet-making kit we had. We researched on YouTube. We learned how to make a snake cobra knot on YouTube.”
Lucero and Stumbo buy thread at a craft store and so far have made all the bracelets themselves. They decided on an Earth motif for the first charm.
“How do we make an Earth charm and how do we mass produce it?” Lucero said. “We found a manufacturer in China on Alibaba [the Chinese e-commerce company].”
They emailed Stumbo’s drawing to China, and a stainless steel prototype was sent back. The design was fine-tuned and then Stumbo and Lucero submitted their first order for the minimum 100 charms.
In mid-August, they took a finished bracelet to Doodlet’s in downtown Santa Fe to see if the store would carry the Unity bracelet.
“It takes a lot of initiative to approach a business owner cold turkey,” Doodlet’s owner Lisa Young said. “We are going to help sell them to support a local business and the Red Cross. We’re not taking any money. We love that these young kids are so inspired to do that.”
Online, Stumbo and Lucero have sold about 20 bracelets pretty much to family and friends.
“We had our first actual sale the same day we talked to Lisa,” Lucero said. “We got an email that we got an order. We thought it was a family member. It was from New York.”
The Earth bracelet is just the start for YOUnited Threads. They plan to have a second design ready Oct. 1 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It will be a pink ribbon design by Stumbo in a stainless steel charm.
“A year from now, we will have a few different bracelets and different channels where to donate money to,” Lucero said.