Never give up — Perseverance is the gateway to success. The more effort and time put into a task or project, the more you will gain from it. In other words, keep trying even when it may appear that there is no hope. When we first started, we struggled with almost everything. We didn’t even know how to fulfill orders. On days when we received many, it was challenging to keep track of what had and hadn’t been done. If we had quit then, we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today. We have seen people wearing our masks and we have been able to make our first significant donation.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Justine and Bailee Sneiderman.
Justine and Bailee Sneiderman, 14 and 12 respectively are sisters with a great deal in common. They both enjoy dancing, summer camp and most importantly helping others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
We were born in Toronto, and have lived here all of our lives. We spend our summers in Northern Ontario at sleepover camp and travel to Florida every winter to spend some time with our grandparents. During the year we attend the local public school. Justine has a love of math and science, while Bailee has a love for writing and reading, often reading multiple novels a month.
You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Hunger across the world has dramatically increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began. People have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table. We are donating 100% of our profits to food banks to try and reduce hunger among all people. Having food to eat is a necessity to life which is why we believe this is a crucial cause to support. We believe that by raising money for food banks by selling masks with the message I care about u written on them, we are also helping to protect people while building a community of caring and helping people feel like they are part of a bigger social movement.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
We were discussing the effects of COVID-19, and realized that people were struggling to find masks that fit properly, look good and feel good. We came to the conclusion that we needed to provide a solution to this problem. Just providing a well fitting mask wasn’t enough, we wanted it to have meaning, so we came up with a phrase to include on our masks. The phrase we chose was I care about u. Finally, in order to ensure the greatest possible social benefit, we decided to donate 100% of our profits to food banks as we saw this as one of the most pressing needs. In addition to the social impact we hoped to have, after years of watching Shark Tank, we were just excited to start our own business!
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
Generally, when we walk to school there are a few homeless people that we pass by. Seeing these people, we can infer that they are struggling to feed themselves. When the pandemic hit, we instantly knew that this situation would only become worse. Any steps we could take would help aid the cause, but the idea how we would take on this task hadn’t fully developed. Recommendations by our local government to wear masks was the perfect push we needed because we knew that people had to wear them everywhere. Adding our I care about u logo came naturally as we needed the community to feel loved during this difficult time. Attaching the donation to food banks was the final step to complete our passion of helping others.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
Research played a critical role in our start to forming this initiative. It was a catalyst as it guided us from everything like the type of masks we needed (recommended by experts) to the charity we should donate to. The creativity followed later once our idea had been sparked. Another component to our beginning was having help. As we are young change-makers/entrepreneurs, we weren’t afraid to ask for guidance if there was something we were unsure of. Our family members provided guidance as to improve our knowledge on how business functions. They also lent us the money to buy our first shipment of 250 masks.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
At the beginning, within our first week of launching, we thought it would be a good idea to find more ways for our story to reach a broader group of people. Media is a primary way people consume news and information, so we thought we would put in a submission to our local tv station. When doing so, we knew that the likelihood of our story being noticed was very unlikely, so we didn’t get our hopes up. Later that day we received a call notifying us that our story had been chosen, and that they would be ready to film the next day. Our story aired that night, and the word got out and immediately we received orders.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
Some of the first masks that we printed on were printed upside down. We realized this as we were fulfilling orders. We had to return the masks to the printers to get them to reprint our logo. The next time we printed our masks, we made sure that they knew which way the top of the masks were! The lesson here is to work closely with your suppliers and don’t assume they know what you are thinking.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Our grandfather was a key factor to our desire to continue to work hard. He provided us with support that we needed to be successful and wasn’t afraid to take risks. With his many years of experience, he shared his valuable skills he picked up throughout his lifetime in business. We learned everything from the basics of research to how to grow and evolve a business from him. One day we were on a car ride with him, and we started talking about how amazing our project could be, and the many ways it could help people. He continued to support us, and always believed that we could succeed, even on the toughest days when we received no orders.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
All of our profits are being donated to a national food bank. Our work goes beyond helping only one person, as it helps many families. Each family will be directly impacted by our donation to the food bank as it will provide them their next meal. On a personal note, we have greatly impacted our relationship with our grandfather because this project has brought us closer to him.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Our goal is to really help 3 issues: hunger, people not wearing masks, and the need of love and support throughout our population. The politicians need to continue to speak out and spread awareness about people not being able to have enough food to eat. This is a problem that may never be completely solved, but the more often it is addressed, the more people understand it’s devastating effects. As the pandemic continues to change our way of life, it is important that people understand the purpose of mask-wearing and how it can improve our current situation. Finally, as a community, we need to focus on how others around us feel. Having the I care about u logo printed on the masks can put smiles on peoples faces and make them feel good. Once they feel good, they can wear their I care about u mask and pass on the positivity.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Never give up — Perseverance is the gateway to success. The more effort and time put into a task or project, the more you will gain from it. In other words, keep trying even when it may appear that there is no hope. When we first started, we struggled with almost everything. We didn’t even know how to fulfill orders. On days when we received many, it was challenging to keep track of what had and hadn’t been done. If we had quit then, we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today. We have seen people wearing our masks and we have been able to make our first significant donation.
- Follow your dreams — We were passionate about this cause and it led to something wonderful. Being interested and excited about what you are trying to accomplish is paramount. It is also important to keep in mind that goals are achievable, no matter the difficulty as long as you are excited by it.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new — As we are young entrepreneurs, we have never had an experience quite like this. Being curious is an amazing tool to possess because it can lead to ideas you may have never even considered. Throughout our journey, we had to follow through on many events that we had minimal knowledge about, but the fear of not succeeding never shone through. We believed that you could even further your understanding of something if you have never done it before.
- It’s okay to ask for help — You may not always know all the answers. Although we like to believe that we do, assistance is never a bad thing. Getting insight on what is not working out or could use improvement helps aid your success. When we were stuck, we reached out to family members to provide us with their unique opinion on how to solve the problem.
- Knowledge is power — The more that you know about a specific topic or cause can change your actions towards it. It is also important to remember that you learn more every day, and your information continues to grow. As you grow as a person, your ideas begin to further develop and evolve with your ever-changing knowledge. Keep learning!
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
The most important part about contributing something positive towards society is the feeling that you get throughout and after the process. Knowing that you are changing people’s lives for the better in many ways makes you feel amazing. The feeling that you have made a meaningful difference to society is the best feeling that anyone can have.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Growing up, the tv show Shark Tank has always weaved its way into our morning routine. Watching entrepreneurs pitch their businesses was the best way for us to start our morning. Mark Cuban was always our favorite Shark, as we always enjoyed what he had to say. Mark is interested in charity work, and we need his aid to help grow our business in the US. We believe that he would be able to provide us with the advice and contacts we will need to become even more successful and help more people across North America.
How can our readers follow you online?
People can follow us on Instagram @icare.aboutu or can visit our website www.icareaboutu.ca
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!