195essential is the collaboration of father and daughter team Lena and Jason Harris. Like so many others, Lena’s education at Barnard College was interrupted half-way through her sophomore year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. She was forced to leave campus and return to Boston to live with her family and continue her education from home.
After a month of quarantine with her family, Lena approached her father looking for ways to make a difference. She wanted to know if there was a way for them as a family to help support the people on the frontlines, and those who were heavily impacted by Covid-19. Together they formulated an idea to sell clothing to generate donations and give back to organizations and people in their communities that are working to support those around them who were in need.
As they discussed the idea and the current crisis, the word ‘essential’ came up over and over. They began to ask themselves, what does ‘essential’ mean to us and to society? Who is essential? What is Essential in our lives? What really matters? It also seemed clear in the midst of all of this misery and hardship around the world, that we as people all share a common thread and that we rely on each other more than we think. The name 195essential combines the word essential with the number 195, which represents the number of countries on Earth.
195essential is their way of contributing to the collective energy, and community spirit to bring about change, and foster increased respect and appreciation for the best of those around us in our families, communities, and country. This tragedy will be less of a tragedy if we come out of it stronger and better.
195essential is dedicated to the concept of merging our purpose with our profit. We will use our clothing sales to generate donations to a range of organizations and people in our communities that are working to support those around us who are most in need. We are giving at least 10% of our profits to people and causes that help protect and support those around us most in need. We want to use our clothing sales and our brand to not only give back to the community but also try to emulate and promote the best essential values and ideals the world has to offer.
While we are dedicated to giving at least 10% of our profits to charity, the percentage we give to charity is determined by the charity program we partner with. Our first charity partnership is with Nutré and their “Feeding Heroes” donation initiative. In this case every shirt purchased correlates to a meal purchased for a nurse or doctor in the greater Boston area. At Nutré’s initiative, one meal cost $10, so we decided that we wanted every shirt to buy a meal, making the percentage going to charity about 50% after costs. As we move forward we will expand to other charities and causes so that eventually our t-shirts profits will be donated to many different charities, with varying social justice issues.
Our hope is that the many powerful lessons that come out of this pandemic can lead to a world where we as citizens, neighbors, siblings, parents and members of a local and global society can consider those around us as part of a unified movement that keeps the world moving onward and upward. We want people that wear our shirts, or see others wearing them, to feel the same love and respect for the people they know as they do for that stranger that they are seeing for the first time, and see them as ‘essential.’