Erin Lamb, a senior at Newnan High School in Georgia, is your typical student, busy with college applications and extracurricular activities. However, there is one thing that makes her stand out. Lamb is a young entrepreneur and the founder of Pillows with Purpose, a nonprofit that benefits Guatemalan women and children. Lamb purchases all the fabrics for the homemade pillows herself from women in Guatemala. After selling the pillows, she donates all of the profits to Porch de Solomon in Guatemala, an organization that provides scholarships for children. NYMM had the chance to speak with Erin about her vision for Pillows with Purpose.
Could you just tell us a little bit about Pillows With Purpose and what your mission is?
EL: Pillows with Purpose is a non-profit organization that benefits both Guatemalan women and children. I purchase the traditional Guatemalan women’s clothing, called huipils, from women in open-air markets. This benefits the women directly. Then I sew the fabric into pillows and sell them here in the US at a store called Greenhouse Mercantile. I then send the money back to Guatemala to sponsor scholarships for kids to go to school.
What made you want to start this nonprofit? Where did you get the idea from?
EL: I went to Guatemala last summer and as soon as my parents picked me up from the airport, I began talking about wanting to do something to give back to those sweet people. I spent the next few months deciding what I wanted to do. In October, I had the opportunity to return to Guatemala for a house dedication ceremony that I had spent the summer working on. I decided that was the perfect time to begin my nonprofit. I had seen pillows sold in Guatemala and decided I wanted to make my own special version to sell here in the United States.
Why Guatemala? Any special connection?
EL: I spent six weeks there last summer as a part of a leadership construction based internship. I fell in love with the people, the country, and the work. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those people the way they had made a difference in mine.
Do you find it difficult to juggle this with being a high school senior?
EL: Beginning this business has been way more difficult than I imagined. I am way over-involved in everything at high school, and trying to learn to sew and run a business at the same time has been difficult. However, I’m so excited about the organization that I can’t help but make time for it. I challenge myself to make at least two pillows a day, and I’m a very determined person, so I am usually able to reach that goal.
Finally, do you see yourself expanding this organization over time?
EL: I fully expect to expand this organization. I am already doing so. I plan to start an Etsy store soon and sell the pillows in our town’s market days on the square. I hope to one day expand to make more products and have my own website. Those are small goals for now, but I believe that they will maximize the number of pillows I sell and maximize how much help I am able to provide to the Guatemalan people.
We here at NYMM wish you the best of luck, Erin!
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