What started as a 10-day creative fundraiser for close friends became an exponentially expanding business of six months — and counting — for Belmont senior Mak Emmert.
Emmert started Made by Mak during quarantine in July after teaching herself to make her own rings and earrings. The business functions as an Instagram-based jewelry business where all proceeds go to Our Daughters International, a human trafficking charity.
Our Daughters International’s mission is to “bring an end to human trafficking, and to bring our daughters into safety,” reads their website.
“The primary issue that stands out to me, in my heart, is human trafficking; international human trafficking,” said Emmert.
A friend of Emmert’s was a victim of trafficking when Emmert was 14. Since then, her keen awareness of how the issue affects people worldwide has inspired her to action.
Emmert came in contact with Our Daughters International through a fundraising initiative wherein the organization’s local partner reached out to her about a 10-day campaign.
She picked up wire-based jewelry-making and used the skills for the campaign — even if she initially thought it would be a temporary opportunity.
“I did not even see myself sticking with it,” said Emmert.
Nonetheless, her passion for educating people about the issue has kept her going — Emmert said it was galvanizing to see people become aware of the human trafficking issue after joining her Instagram discussions or purchasing her jewelry.
Emmert encouraged people to read about the subject, saying it does not have to be a time-consuming process in order to make a difference. And by purchasing her customizable products, customers have the opportunity to add donations on top of the price – making an impact regardless of means.
“We are nearing about $1,000 in total donations as of right now,” said Emmert.
In Emmert’s work, Belmont inspires her to keep striving for change with a program motto of “what world problems do you want to solve,” said Emmert.
While Emmert is committed to Belmont because of its theater program, she sparked other passions as she discovered the field of international studies.
“I appreciated the blend of Belmont’s values as well as their liberal arts approach and just the community in general,” said Emmert. “I found global leadership and it was, like, my thing.”
Now a senior, she is in the process of applying to graduate schools with hopes of going into international social work and, more specifically, a program where she can pursue an anti-trafficking initiative; preferably hands-on in Nepal, where Our Daughters International is based – or somewhere else in the world where she can meet the needs of the locals.
Having others match her passion contributes to a meaningful effort against social injustices, and Emmert aims to return the favor by serving communities in need, she said.
“With my company, my primary goal is just to raise money and connect people with fun jewelry and support a really good cause,” said Emmert.
This article written by Jessica Mattsson.