Lizzy is the founder of Freely Project. The Freely Project partners with organizations that give to others who are marginalized and are in need of social services. 35% of the profit from a Freely necklace goes towards these resources.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name’s Lizzy and I’m the founder of Freely Project. I design and make the necklaces, using a hand stamp press machine and assemble the necklace and the packaging. I also manage the social media accounts and the Freely Project website, which includes processing and sending orders.
How did you come up with the idea to create necklaces?
For a while I was going back and forth, thinking about what product I can create that will make the statement that I wanted to make. I ended up going with a simple necklace design primarily because of that; it was simple. For me that was part of what I considered most important, along with being able to carry a physical message on it. I started off with the gold satellite design, then decided to add silver and rose gold variations of the original necklace.
When did Freely Project start? What was the original idea behind it?
I knew I wanted to start something since spring 2012, shortly after finishing my bachelor's degree in sociology. I guess you can say Freely Project is something that has taken five years to develop. It originally began as an idea to provide a social service only, but then I combined my love for jewelry into the equation. It wasn’t until July 2016 that I made the conscious decision to take steps into making that dream a reality. I enrolled in a business curriculum called StartUp Camp that helped me take the steps that I needed to officially get it going. The current idea of Freely Project wasn’t fully developed until January 2017, and launched three months later in April. Currently, Freely Project donates 35% of each item to our partner agencies: Freedom House (branch of the Dream Center) in Los Angeles, ROOTS Young Adult Shelter in Seattle, and Nevada Partnership for HomelessYouth in Las Vegas. There are also the “Spotlight Projects” that highlight special causes outside of the United States. Our current one is a hospice home in Tijuana, Mexico that we will be donating to periodically. This home currently serves about 100 displaced and homeless people of all ages and with various medical and mental illnesses… all without government help!
What has been one struggle in producing the necklaces? One success?
I think the biggest struggle in producing the necklaces has been that I am the only person working for the company. It’s not so much the production piece that is challenging; but the emotional piece. Launching Freely Project has in a way required me to be more vulnerable with others, something that is quite out of the norm for my introverted personality. But I would love to take this as an opportunity for my character to grow. The most important success that I have encountered thus far is the general response to Freely Project. It has been nothing short of supportive and encouraging; something that propels me to keep going, especially at this early stage.
What's one story where the funds raised from the necklaces has benefited someone in your organization?
We just finished quarter 1, which means that we are barely in our first round of donations! It’s definitely an exciting time, and I am looking forward to hearing more stories of impact as time goes on. But what I can tell you now pertains our LA-based partner, Freedom House (at the Dream Center). Funds will be utilized to support housing expenses for aged out foster and homeless youth living in the home. The home currently houses 14 young men and women that are working to establish a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.
What's next? Any other types of products in the works?
Definitely new products in the works! I’m hoping to release a gunmetal gray version of our original bar necklace, along with a new line of shorter, daintier bar necklaces. Apparel is also in the works, with the first t-shirt design out this fall. Of course, the goal of Freely Project is to create partnerships with organizations all over the country, so I would love to partner with organizations in New York City and Chicago in the next year… and perhaps another Spotlight Project as well!
If you were stranded on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you?
Just five?! Okay here goes: water, knife, cell phone, boat, and a book on how to drive a boat.
What would be your super power if you had one?
Teleportation for sure. Imagine how much money I could save on airfare!
If you could travel in time where would you go?
Okay call me lame, but as much as I love fashion from the 20s, 50s, and 80s, I can’t imagine living without modern technology. I’d have to go with 2020s- I’m highly curious to see what my life will look like 10 years from now.
What is one place you want to travel to?
Another hard one! I’ve only started traveling for the past three years so this list is long! But if I were to chose a new place I would choose between Sevilla, Spain, Berlin, Germany, or Buenos Aires, Argentina. A place I could revisit over and over again would be London, England.