October 25, 2020 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Haarika Kalahasti; Edited by Adya Kumar
Although COVID-19 has negatively impacted many small businesses, individuals have begun to step up to promote change. Another organization that emerged during this pandemic is Hopes and Seams.
Hopes and Seams was created by twin high schoolers, Amelie and Sophia Clarke, who are National Honor Society members and Varsity Soccer Players in Ashburn VA. They aim to create an alternative to disposable masks, which are limited as a result of COVID-19 and strive to keep those on the front lines protected by donating our masks to healthcare workers, first responders, youth patients, the elderly, and the disadvantaged communities, who are the most vulnerable during this time. With each purchase of a non-medical mask (performance or cotton), Hopes and Seams donates a complimentary face mask to healthcare workers and other vulnerable people during this time.
The founders started Hopes and Seams in June of 2020 when they noticed a need for non-medical masks in the community. With the sewing skills they picked up from their grandmother, they were stitching masks with the sole purpose to give back to their community and family during the pandemic. A friend of theirs approached them and asked to purchase a mask, and in doing so, it helped launch the successful business it is today. Hopes and Seams mainly target those vulnerable to COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions Right now, however, face masks are needed by everyone in our community to protect ourselves and others from the pandemic.
What differentiates them from other mask retailers and stores is that they offer custom high school logo performance masks for schools in Loudoun County and the fact that they make each mask by hand. In fact, each mask takes about 5-15 minutes to make. What’s more impressive though, is their ability to become business-minded teen entrepreneurs who have stepped up to make a difference in their community. In addition to selling masks, they seek to educate the public on COVID-19 by talking to and interviewing healthcare workers and professionals to do so. With all this effort, the Clarke Twins have managed to gain representation from areas all over the world, including regions in the United States, such as Virginia, California, Texas, and even has customers in countries such as Portugal and France!
As of right now, Hopes and Seams sells cotton masks, performance masks, and clear vinyl masks through their Etsy shop! The masks come in all types of designs and sizes that even cater to different purposes. Hopes and Seams have Halloween themed masks, ones with straw holes, clear ones to make lip reading possible, masks with a smile, and many more, typically ranging from $12 to $20.
The Clarke Twins love giving back to their local community and have been great role models to students in the area. With the profit that they gain through their sales, they seek to give back to the public. In addition to this, they also have partnered with several local bakeries to provide a treat with the donations of masks to the location. Places to which they have donated include Mobile Hope, Loudoun County public schools, several hospitals, and police stations. Through these donations, Hopes and Seams seek to spread hope to communities worldwide and educate their audience about COVID-19 on their social platforms. For breast cancer awareness month, Hopes and Seams have partnered with a Loudoun County-based organization, Step Sisters (which aims to raise funds for those battling breast cancer), to create their own line of masks available for message.
It’s truly inspiring to see the amazing impact the Clarke sisters have had in the community and step up to change the world for the better! For them, it was rewarding in that it gave them “something to do during the pandemic that’s impactful and helps others”, Amelie said. For their outstanding efforts, they have been recognized through the Presidental’s Service Award, the Northern Virginia Magazine, and even received a commendation from The House of Delegates!
When asked how it was to launch their own business, Sophia said, “We never thought it would come this far. We’re really proud of what we've been able to accomplish and hope to keep doing it. From the beginning, we just wanted to help the community and didn’t expect anything out of it. It’s been great.” The twins are DECA (marketing club and competition) members at their local high school, which also gave them great exposure to the realm of business and entrepreneurship. It’s amazing how they’ve been able to come so far in a short time frame and are about to give back on a very large scale! Amelie’s advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs and business owners is to “find your passion and don’t be afraid to follow and express it. We had a passion for community service and so we created Hopes and Seams to serve our community”. Sophia’s advice is to “work hard for what you want to accomplish even though you may think you are not successful. Even if one person likes your product, you are making an impact on that person’s life”. These words of wisdom are some that all entrepreneurs and business owners swear by and are super important to remember to succeed in the future. Their innovation and ability to take charge in their community is something the world needs a bit more of, and it’s truly inspiring to see young leaders, like Sophia and Amelie Clarke take charge!