Today we’d like to introduce you to Bella Baskin.
Bella, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
This is a completely new avenue for me. I went to CalArts for fine art and costume design, worked as a photographer for SNL for three years, then at WB TV for a year as a photo consultant. My background is in the arts, so starting a non-profit has been a completely new process for me. I came up with the idea for Bless It Bag™ when I was commuting two hours a day and would see people experiencing homelessness and struggling with addiction. I myself am a recovered addict, so I didn’t want to give money to support someone’s drug habit. I thought I should go to Costco and keep clean undies in my car or something, but I never did because it wasn’t convenient. I quit my 9-5 in January of 2018 with just an idea and a dream of what Bless It Bag™ could be. Since then, I’ve done homeless solutions workshops with the mayor’s office, met with Midnight Mission, met with several people who have started non-profits, said yes to every opportunity and every suggestion of who I should talk to or meet, hand-made 1500 bags, and worked tirelessly at making this dream come true because I truly believe in it. We launched December 15th. We had a very successful launch party and launched the products online. Today our billboard went up on Sunset Blvd. & Alta Vista Blvd.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest struggle has been finding out the best way to become a non-profit/ 501(c)(3), every time I thought I had the solution I got pulled in a different direction and went through 15 different options, finally we found a lawyer to do the paperwork pro bono and it is all in the process of being filed! Also now becoming successful after the launch has been more difficult than I expected. Marketing is now the main focus, as I mentioned before our billboard just went up so we are extremely excited!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Bless It Bag™ – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
EVERYTHING about Bless It Bag™ is different. Charities are very old school and this is a WHOLE NEW way to give back that is easy, convenient, and affordable. You buy the bags online with the click of a button, it ships to your door, you keep the bags in your car, and you hand it out your car window whenever you see a homeless person or dog. Bless It Bag’s mission is to give people a simple way to help improve the homeless population’s quality of life. These hygiene kits for men, women, and dogs are meant to be a helpful alternative to giving money which can often times be harmful. One dollar per bag goes to a charity of the buyer’s choice chosen from our list of charities that deal with current issues.
It is up to the buyer to physically do the act of giving (they buy them online and they can keep them in their cars), or they can ship bags in bulk to the homeless shelters that have agreed to receive Bless It Bags. For the record, Bless It Bag™ has no religious affiliations. For the charities and shelters lists, please go to the website. Bless It Bag is meant to be an alternative to giving money to the homeless. It takes away the difficulties of volunteering (early, long hours and background checks) and charities (how do I know which one to choose, where exactly is the money going, that’s a lot of money) this is meant to be a new type of charity for millennials that is convenient and affordable. It is a completely new avenue of doing personal and direct outreach that reaches the greater Los Angeles area not just Skid Row. Bless It Bag also ships nationwide.
For example, say you have 100,000 followers, and you are really passionate about sexual assault/the Me Too Movement. You can ask your followers to buy one $20 bag and put their $1 per bag towards The Rape Foundation, say 1,000 of your followers do that- then you just raised $1000 for The Rape Foundation.
The point is to promote giving, loving, and kindness in a very self-absorbed society and generation. We are all comparing ourselves constantly. Esteemable acts create self-esteem. Being of service gets you out of self. By no means are we curing the homeless problem, after all we are not giving them homes. Obviously, we want to improve it, but it is about restoring humanity and dignity and acknowledging this problem with a simple act of kindness. This is an outlet for social media influencers to use their influence for good. Now when great tragedies occur instead of saying “pray for this, pray for that” they can actually promote an action which can help a charity Bless It Bag sponsors as well as feel the benefits of how good giving directly feels. Nothing beats the feeling of making another person’s day. You are giving these people the basic necessities that we ourselves take for granted each day that they cannot afford (water, clean underwear, clean socks, baby wipes, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, tissues, etc.) Please go to the website to see the full list of items in each bag.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have a lot of promotion coming up in the next couple of weeks surrounding the billboard (a pop up shop on Valentines’ Day, a drone video, a video of passing out bags on Skid Row, hopefully some news coverage). But my long term goal is to make Bless It Bag™ a widely known household name. Hopefully, it will be hugely successful and I will obviously have a manufacturer (right now I am making them myself). I want to have a “Build Your Own Bless It Bag” app for people who have personal relationships with people experiencing homelessness (the one outside your apartment building or local coffee shop) and be able to ask them what they need and provide them with those things.
- Mens bag $20
- Women’s bag $20
- Dogs bag $10
- Website: www.blessitbag.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @blessitbag
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blessitbag/
- Other: www.gofundme.com/bless-it-bag