Written by Stephanie Yoshida Barnes
Stefany, founder of Designer Greek has always loved animals, but when she relocated to Seattle in 2003, her concern for domestic animals grew to include wild animals too.
What started as a few innocent trips to her local Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, would unknowingly change her view about wildlife and their natural habitats forever. As she would walk from one exhibit to the next, there was an overwhelming theme - almost every animal was endangered due to loss of a habitat, poaching, or other human influence. "It was such an awakening for me – I really had no idea how much suffering and loss was occurring at the hands of humans" Stefany says.
She saw how the survival of wildlife and their habitat was so directly connected to the way humans impact the planet. It quickly became clear to Stefany that in order to preserve and protect wildlife, a huge shift in human behavior and mentality would be necessary.
Saving individual animals is a part of her everyday life and she always remembers to do the little things, leading by example and teaching her kids to keep the planet in mind. But her real passion is to find a way to raise awareness about our affect on the earth and its living creatures and to encourage positive, sustainable changes in the way people live.
Stefany’s Designer Greek business had grown to reach all across the U.S. and Canada, since it began in 2001. Seven years later, with her concern for the planet constantly on her mind, she had the idea to design Greek letters with important causes as an inspiration. She also wanted DG to contribute to the causes, but instead of just donating some arbitrary amount of money, she thought DG could give support to the causes most important to the customers.
She started Letters For A Cause, searching high and low for inspirational fabrics and doing lots of research on the causes (at times feeling overwhelmed by how much our planet is hurting). From rainforests and oceans to wild cats and sharks, there were plenty of important causes to feature. After months of collaboration with her web developers and DG team, Letters For A Cause was launched!
How it works – Designer Greek customers design their lettered apparel just like they always have, but now have the chance to select fabrics that are related to important causes like the Amazon Rainforest or the Endangered Snow Leopard. Upon purchase, DG donates 5% of the purchase price to an organization dedicated to the cause. Ultimately Stefany hopes that the design experience will raise awareness and inspire her customers to make changes in the way they live and impact our planet.
Still to come she says are causes like Shark Finning and The Ivory Trade – these two in particular were main motivators for Letters For A Cause. "If only more people knew about the battles waging at sea and in Africa and Asia. High demand in countries like the US, Japan, Thailand, and Europe is severely threatening these species – all for things like shark fin soup, jewelry & trophies. It’s such an unbelievable tragedy" says Stefany.
Although Stefany is most passionate about wildlife and their habitats, she realizes there are so many other worthwhile causes to feature. Humans too are suffering all over the world – from disease, starvation, war. In addition to Breast Cancer awareness, there are plans to feature causes like world hunger, and stability and peace in Africa – "it just takes finding the right fabrics" she says.
Whether or not customers decide to choose the Letters For A Cause fabrics, she hopes that having the information available on Designer Greek’s site will raise awareness and inspire people to get involved and really make a difference.
Stefany also envisions the LFAC clothing providing a way for people to express their support of important issues, and an opportunity to spark some ideas in their peers about how to live a life that makes our world a better place for all.
On a final note Stefany says, "I've always enjoyed working with the Greek community and now Letters For A Cause brings even more meaning and excitement to my job. I'm optimistic and encouraged that we can make a difference!"