Small Businesses Take Up the Haiti Cause

After working at several big-name fashion companies like Jill Stuart and Forever 21, Amber Becton decided to start her own business, a hand-made fashion line called Lanya, in November. Sure, the economy was still reeling, and yes, she knew there was less of a demand for boutique products, but for Becton, it was all about pursuing a career that she could be passionate about. Now, despite the fact that it's a constant challenge for any new business to stay in the black, Becton has committed to donating 15% of all the sales she makes to the Haiti relief effort. Like the choice to start a company, Becton’s decision to donate comes from the conviction to do right by herself and for others.

“Bigger companies often do charities mostly because it’s a good marketing opportunity,” she said. “But I don’t really see it like that. This cause is something that makes me feel better, knowing that I am contributing to other people.”

Becton spends much of her time at home, designing products with the television playing in the background. When Haiti was ravaged by an earthquake two weeks ago, Becton found herself glued to the news, absorbing the total devastation. Soon, she learned of the massive outpouring of charity that occurred through text messages and social networks, and was immediately inspired to do something. (To date, more than $20 million has been raised by text messages.)

She decided to give away 15% of her sales because “10 percent just didn’t seem significant enough.” Since her business is so small, Becton says she didn’t really have to worry about working her donations into a strict budget. It was her decision alone what to do with her money, though she did face some opposition. “My husband’s response was basically ‘Is this forever?’”

Even in an ailing economy, many small business owners like Becton are finding creative ways to help the people of Haiti. Felicia Hatcher, owner of The Feverish Ice Cream Truck in Florida, told us that her company made a small monetary donation to the Haiti cause, but they wanted to do more. That's when they came up with a novel idea.

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