T-SHIRTS SPREAD GOOD VIBES TO HELP RAISE FUNDS
If one person spreads positivity to nine people, and each of those nine share happiness with nine more people, it won’t be long till the whole population of the United States is touched by good. It’s a message that Dallas startup 9HappyPeople knows better than anyone. They’ve built their foundation on it.
Candice Quarles and Amrit Kirpalani met through a mutual friend who thought they’d make a good team.
Quarles has a background in human resources and leadership. She has served as president of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, and is a current member of Leadership Dallas. Kirpalani previously was a part of the Dallas Mayor’s Star Council, is a current board member for Lumin Education, and has experience launching startups.
9HappyPeople sells T-shirts with a message
They knew they wanted to find a way to give back to the community, but didn’t want to simply distribute goods or cash to people in underserved areas. They wanted to give them jobs.
Using a model reminiscent of the one employed by TOMS Shoes and Dallas-based Roma Boots (for every pair of shoes or boots you buy, a pair is sent to someone in need), they came up with 9HappyPeople. The premise: They’d sell T-shirts with positive messages and donate a percentage of the profits toward job creation.
In April 2015, Quarles and Kirpalani launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal to raise $10,000. They met their goal in the first half day, and raised $19,210 in total. 9HappyPeople was born.
Through their website, 9HappyPeople sells T-shirts that spread a message of happiness (designs feature feel-good messages such as “I am Blessed,” “Be Happy,” and “Love over Hate”), sold at $45 each. For job creation, 9HappyPeople targets South and East Dallas, underserved communities with low education levels and high unemployment rates, places rife with crumbling buildings and overgrown lots. The organization donates half of its earnings to nonprofits that can make a difference in these areas.
“You’re not just buying a T-shirt, it’s going to a greater purpose.”
– Candice Quarles
“These organizations already know what to do, they just need the funding,” Quarles said. “Through them, 50 percent of our profits go back to the community for job training and placement. You’re not just buying a T-shirt, it’s going to a greater purpose.”
In summer 2015, 9HappyPeople donated $2,500 to THR!VE Intern and Leadership Program, hosted by Friendship West Baptist Church. The program, aimed at African-American students, utilizes workshops and mentoring to help young men develop into successful professionals. Participants are paid $10 an hour to spend the summer learning valuable job skills from local businesses.
“A job can transform a household.”
“I have a background in HR, so I completely understand how a job can transform a household,” said Quarles, who is also running for DeSoto City Council. “I knew that whatever I did after leaving corporate America would be centered around getting people job-ready.”
In addition to helping their surrounding community, 9HappyPeople is committed to providing jobs at an internal level. Quarles and Kirpalani use local talent to print and pack their T-shirts, and hire Dallas-based interns. In five years, Quarles hopes to have 25 full-time positions available within the company — a staff of Dallas locals.
For now, though, the happy people behind 9HappyPeople will keep spreading good vibes, selling awesome T-shirts, and giving back to their community.
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