The Upbeat

Fighting Gun Violence with Style

The Upbeat

"I grew up in a family that embodied the spirit that you had a responsibility to repair the world. And so I jumped, I walked, I ran to every 5K, everything, and that was how we grew up. And Jewelry for a Cause is an extension of that."

Jewelry for a Cause is a company that creates innovative fundraising tools in the form of jewelry for not-for-profit organizations. Jessica Mindich, a mother of two, started the company five years ago in her Connecticut home. "I was a mom that had been a lawyer looking to go back to work and looking around at a community that was still doing the same fundraising methods and people were bored of them."

Mindich creates affordable jewelry for different causes, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities around the world to help promote awareness for issues such as breast cancer, Alzheimer's and drinking water. "There isn't anything that we do that doesn't give back to a cause," Mindich says of her creations. "People were excited to wear what they believe, what they support on them. And these were inexpensive, they were eye-popping, and they had meaning behind them."

One of the most popular items is the Blue Buddha from the Talisman line. The inexpensive necklace with a priceless message even caught the eye of celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Ashley Simpson and Maria Shriver. "People were connecting with the fact they could give a $28 gift, and it would have meaning," Mindich says. "It was designed as a necklace that was going to heal the world, because the Buddha was sitting in a pose of charity and compassion and the color blue in Buddhism is the color of medicine and healing."

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Caiber Collection

Mindich's latest design is one that took her to the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Made from illegal guns and shell casings found at crime scenes, the Caliber Collection features bracelets that sparkle with hope.

The idea came about when Mindich met Newark Mayor Cory Booker. "We've been looking for a long time about creative things to do with weapons," says Booker. The sale of each bracelet helps the Newark Police Department fund a gun buyback program. Booker says, "I want them to go to the most profound purpose, which is peace. I wanted them to go to something that would help to reduce violence. Something that would help inspire peace and security."

It was important to Mindich to have the bracelets represent their origins. "As much as we were not going to have the shape of a pistol or handcuffs or angry imagery in the actual bracelets, we didn't want it to be something so far from where they came," she says. "It was like any piece of jewelry. It was supposed to be a symbol."

In April her efforts paid off with the first gun buyback in Newark since 2009. "I entirely funded a gun buyback in one of the top six most dangerous cities in America. We bought back 210 guns, eight of them were assault rifles, half of them were handguns. These are guns that are really out there doing the damage.”

Mindich says, "It's my dream, my absolute dream to bring Caliber to cities across America. My desire that those cities are cities with the highest homicide rates because that's where you're going to have the highest number of illegal guns and make the biggest impact. I don't need chic bracelets from fancy cities. I want the bracelets inside to read cities like Flint, Michigan, and Oakland and New Orleans and places where guns are destroying their communities and as a result they can't rebuild their economy. That would be incredible."

Know of someone who is doing inspiring or innovative things? Email us at news-pitches@yahoo-inc.com or send a tweet at #theupbeat and #yahoonews.

Produced by Deborah Grau. Edited by Amina Megalli. Directors of photography: Jon Light, Josh Kesner and Josh Simmons. Audio: Dennis Haggerty, Bill Hickey, Matt Legreca, and Gary Millus. Associate producer: Meghan Moore. Production assistants: Ryan Kuharic and Rob Thomas. Graphics by Sam Fuller. Sound mixed by J.J. Brown. Production supervisor: Michael Manas. Executive producers: Russ Torres and Charity Elder for Yahoo! Studios.

Video courtesy of Brick City.

Photos courtesy of Jessica Mindich.

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