Blog Editor’s Note: This month, fashion designer Margaux Minutolo launched Karma for a Cure, a clothing line with a unique mission. Each of her hand-drawn designs tells a story about an important cause—from animal rights to anti-bullying to breast cancer research. With every purchase of a t-shirt or tank from her collection, five percent of the total sale is donated to the charity it supports. Here, Margaux discusses the art of giving back and her fabulous baseball tee that benefits Phoenix House.
Phoenix House: Tell us about Karma For A Cure and the concept behind the brand.
Margaux Minutolo: My father battled prostate cancer for about ten years and he was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 inoperable lung cancer. His strength and optimism has really inspired me to give back. I graduated from FIT and I wanted to do something to support important causes. As a consumer, I always love giving to charity, but whenever I buy clothes for a cause, I just end up wearing them to the gym. I wanted to create a lifestyle brand for young people that was trendy, wearable, and flattering. My ideal customer is the “philanthropic fashionista.”
PH: You just launched this month. What feedback have you received so far?
MM: People really like the fact that each design tells a story about the cause, but the messages aren’t “in your face.” We’re also really focused on using high-quality materials. Customers have told us, “Oh my god! I love this shirt. When I put it on, I couldn’t believe how soft it was.”
PH: What brought you to the decision to create a shirt that would raise funds for Phoenix House?
MM: A few months ago, my cousin passed away and his death was drug-related. He was the happiest, most amazing person. He was only 32 and it broke my heart that he couldn’t overcome his battle. So, that’s why I wanted to support an organization that helps people dealing with addiction. I admire everything you guys do. Phoenix House has so many different programs, from prevention to treatment for teens to family support. I feel like there’s real heart behind what you do.
PH: Tell us about the spirit behind the shirt you designed for Phoenix House. It’s a baseball tee with the words, “It was all a dream.” Is there some connection between these words and the cause of recovery?
MM: When I was younger, my cousin introduced me to hip-hop. Whenever I’d go out and listen to music with my friends, I’d think of him. The song “Juicy” by the Notorious B.I.G.—that was his anthem. Now, we play it to remember all the positive things about him. The song is about partying in a sense, and “it was all a dream” is one of the lyrics. From speaking to people who went through addiction, this is a good way to describe the haze of drug abuse. It’s just a totally different state; you can’t even believe it happened. But what we want people to do is to focus on a future that is clean and clear. I want to spread the message that drugs are not the cool thing. What’s cool is being clean.
PH: So, it sounds like your goal is not just to raise money, but also to raise awareness.
MM: Absolutely. That’s a huge part of my brand concept. We’re not preaching, but encouraging. We cater to teens and young adults, and the hope is that they’ll be inspired by these causes. When I think of my customer, I picture someone big-hearted.
PH: There’s still a big stigma surrounding addiction. What message do you want to convey to young people about substance abuse, treatment, and recovery?
MM: I personally know people who have gone through this. It’s so amazing to see how well they’re doing in recovery. I believe addiction is a disease and we should be proud of people who get help and overcome it. That is such a battle. If we as a society can welcome people in recovery with open arms, those who are struggling may be inspired to take the next step. Addicts have to know it’s OK to ask for help. If they’re ashamed, they won’t look for treatment. No one wants to be an outcast. We have to create an environment of acceptance.
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