Elephant Heart is so much more than just a business! We chose our name because it signifies a large, kind, loving and giving heart. The spirit of Elephant Heart is "to open our hearts and make a positive difference in the world."
In 2008, with the partnership, guidance and unwavering encouragement and support of my mentor, Gloria Baran, we launched Elephant Heart with an innovative vision in mind. I wanted to combine my passion for designing handmade jewelry with my commitment to volunteerism and social responsibility. As a jewelry designer and artist, I wanted to take my work to a new level - designing a whole spectrum of fabulous handcrafted jewelry - from delicate, natural fine fashion pieces to bold wearable art objects. Thus, we now have both the Classic and Supernatural Collections. As someone who cares deeply about making a positive difference in the world, I wanted to create a platform that would enable me to help others, do good work, and give back. Our beautiful Elephant Heart Greeting Cards are a shining example.
Giving back to the community is an integral part of Elephant Heart. My hope is that our example will inspire others. As a young businesswoman, I was initially unsure of the support I could offer or difference I might make with this budding enterprise. My mentor, Gloria Baran, taught me a very important lesson early on in our partnership. Through her creativity and initiative, she has shown me that we can all do something to make a meaningful difference, to reach out and help others in our own special and unique way. If we all do our small part and work together, the sum of those parts, all those acts of goodness can add up to something pretty spectacular. This philosophy is the essence of Elephant Heart.
We view our customers as our partners in this charitable / philanthropic work. Their support allows us to reach out and help others. We coined a phrase to describe their important role - they are Customer Philanthropists™.
FYI - Each piece of Elephant Heart Jewelry is handmade in our Los Angeles Studio.
We've included background information on our various philanthropic projects.
Los Angeles Confidential Magazine (December 2013) Features our Holiday Book Project, Jewelry Designer
Elyse Graham and EH's philanthropic work in their "Style of Generosity" story.
"A Book Is A Present You Can Open Again And Again" This sentiment clearly expresses the theme and goal of Elephant Heart's latest philanthropic endeavor.
We were excited to work with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Juvenile Court Shelter Care Program at the Edelman Children's Court in Monterey Park, California. The Edelman Children's Court is a role model - it is the only Courthouse in the country specifically designed to provide children with a more supportive, child-friendly, child oriented environment.
The goal of the Shelter Care Program is to decrease the trauma of the Court process - to give the kids a safe place where they can receive emotional support / encouragement and participate in recreational, arts and crafts, educational and enrichment activities. Thousands of foster children (ages 4-21) come through the Courthouse and take part in this Program each year.
One of the Shelter Program's special projects is a library filled with new books - they place great emphasis on reading . They have volunteers / staff read to the children to comfort them, they work on improving their literacy / reading skills, they encourage the older children to read on their own.
Each child is allowed to select two books to keep and take with them. For most of these kids, these are the very first new books they've ever owned. They treasure them - they have so few things they can actually call their own. Being able to keep the books with them - to read the stories - comforts them in their very difficult circumstances. It's also so great to encourage them to read - so important for their educational development.
A primary source of books/funding for the Shelter Program was a national literacy group called Reading Is Fundamental. They are no longer able to provide assistance because of government cutbacks. The Shelter Program is in desperate need of support - in order to continue this vital library/reading project.
We thought this was such a wonderful opportunity for Elephant Heart to make a meaningful difference, especially during the Holiday Season.
We contributed in two different ways. First, we gave 100 new books to the Program. Second, we pledged to donate a book with every purchase our customers made during the month of December. Because of the generosity and support of our Customer PhilanthropistsTM - our partners, we were able to give an additional 133 books for a grand total of 233. Together, we made a significant difference in the lives of these deserving children.
We purchased the books from Children's Book World in Los Angeles. They worked closely with us and the Shelter Program Staff to select each book - so that we could meet the specific needs of the Program. For example, they wanted books for a wide age range (4-21), books in Spanish and other languages, books that are multi-cultural, that focus on diversity, books that address the sensitive issues these kids are dealing with and remedial - beginning - phonetic readers to help so many of these children who are having difficulty just learning to read.
"During challenging economic times for everyone, partnering with community groups, such as Elephant Heart, truly helps to fill critical gaps. We are so pleased that Elephant Heart has chosen to collaborate with the DCFS Shelter Care program. Elephant Heart's work on our behalf will enable us to continue to provide books to children and youth in foster care. These books help our children to remain connected to their intimate family and life memories, bring valuable knowledge during school disruptions and help bring them hope and healing in moving forward from very difficult family challenges. Books are a support to their hearts and souls and bring them tremendous joy."
- Janice Johnson, Program Manager - DCFS Juvenile Court Shelter Care Program
Jewelry Designer Elyse Graham & her mentor, Gloria Baran, at Children's Book World in L.A. with examples of the books that Elephant Heart will be donating to the Shelter Care Program
This special bookplate will be placed in each book that Elephant Heart donates to the Shelter Care Program
Elephant Heart has donated a variety of art supplies to 32nd Street School in Los Angeles. Elyse has also worked with the students on a number of art projects and other activities.
To express their appreciation, the children presented Elyse with beautiful drawings reflecting their interpretations of Elephant Heart.
Our Elephant Heart Greeting Cards feature the students' original artwork. We give 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the cards (2 assortments / 10 cards each - $20) to the school to promote Arts Education and purchase creative materials and art supplies.
Because of the enormous generosity of our customers - our partners who have truly opened their hearts, we have been able to give 32nd Street School over $5000 thus far!
"I knew I wanted to give back to my community and be a part of the community in an active way. I decided I really wanted to promote arts in schools."
- Elyse Graham, Elephant Heart Jewelry Designer
"You've planted a seed in our children to also give back when it is their turn in the adult world. Bless you and thank you for that."
- Cindy Berger, 32nd Street School Teacher
Can you imagine having to choose between food or diapers for your child?
Believe it or not - many low-income moms across the country grapple with this dilemma on a daily basis.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times documented this situation in heartbreaking detail, including the fact that when word spread - mistakenly - that an organization in L.A. would be handing out diapers directly to parents, desperate parents formed a line that snaked around the block in just a couple of hours and the organization received 3,000 voice-mail messages that day.
We were deeply touched by this story. Elephant Heart is much more than just a business, we chose our name because it signifies a large, kind, loving and giving heart. As part of our ongoing commitment to give back to the Community, we wanted to do our part.
So many of our customers are moms. Because we are so appreciative of their support, we especially wanted to reach out and help another group of moms - moms who are struggling so mightily - to try to make a positive difference in their lives.
We donated 6,250 diapers (in a variety of sizes) to a wonderful organization in Los Angeles, the SOVA Community Food and Resource Program. They provide over 12,000 people each month with free groceries, personal care items and basic necessities, as well as vital supportive services like legal advocacy, food stamp enrollment and job, nutrition and mental health counseling. They even have libraries in each facility that provide books as gifts to the children.
"We are very grateful for the generosity and concern shown by the kind folks at Elephant Heart. This donation of diapers will help make life a little easier for hundreds of SOVA clients and we know they will be truly appreciated. Thank you so much!"
- Fred Summers, Director of Operations - SOVA
Jewelry Designer Elyse Graham & SOVA's Director of Operations Fred Summers at SOVA Warehouse with diapers that Elephant Heart donated to the Program
SOVA Community Food and Resource Program Features our Diaper Project in their "2013 Year End Update".
Michelle Obama and her Joining Forces Initiative called on every American to reach out and support military families - we took that call to heart and found an incredible partner in The Bob Woodruff Foundation. The Woodruff Foundation is a wonderful organization that provides much needed resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families. It was founded by ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee, after he was severely injured in a bomb blast in Iraq.
For a special two-month period, we donated 50% of the proceeds from each sale of our signature Elephant Heart Charm Necklace to The Foundation. Because our Elephant Heart customers once again opened their kind and generous hearts, we were able to present The Foundation with an amazing $7200 donation!
We also reached out to the injured service members and their families with our Elephant Heart Greeting Cards. Because the cards are so upbeat and positive, we thought they would be the perfect way to lift their spirits. The students and teachers at 32nd Street School in Los Angeles filled over 600 cards with drawings and touching, personal messages of support, encouragement and gratitude - which we also presented to The Woodruff Foundation. They distributed these beautiful cards to service members and their families during hospital visits. Partnering with The Bob Woodruff Foundation was truly one of the most special charitable projects Elephant Heart has ever done. We look forward to working with them again on another meaningful venture.
"It's been an incredible journey working with Elephant Heart. The Bob Woodruff Foundation couldn't be more grateful for the significant outpour of support and generosity Elephant Heart has given in support of the wounded and their families."
- Lee Woodruff, Co-Founder - The Bob Woodruff Foundation
This is an example of the heartfelt messages sent to the injured service members and their families by the students / teachers at 32nd Street School:
To learn more about Elephant Heart's work in the community, please enjoy this video: