In March of 2020, as COVID-19 cases started rising, I temporarily moved home to South Carolina to quarantine with my family, after 10 years of living in New York City. Weeks later, I was furloughed from a career I had built over the course of seven years at Ralph Lauren, leaving me with the overwhelming feeling that I had taken a huge step back in life. As I searched for ways to stay busy, I decided to join Gen Z on TikTok, where my videos aimed to bring humor and positivity to the “new normal”, but with a “millennial’s perspective”: 32 years old, unemployed and living with my parents. In the months that followed, I was faced with lots of time for reflection and re-evaluating professional priorities—all which led me to launching a business of my own.
While TikTok’s @lindsayrustperper had started as my own entertainment, it was quickly attracting an audience. I launched a website, integrating the TikTok videos that had gained over 25K followers in just four months. But what kept me sane during months of quarantine was the daily encouragement from strangers, ER nurses, doctors, and new mothers thanking me for the laughs and comic relief my content gave them through quarantine. I expanded my TikToks into sharing small acts of Kindness in New York City, in hopes to inspire others to spread the positivity and kindness that had sparked my journey. In August, I decided to expand my website into a Handmade by @lindsayrustperper product: Mask Chains!
The creative outlet of my TikToks and handmade mask chains had given me such joy and motivation during a dark period, that I knew I wanted to incorporate a charitable component in the new mask chain business. I discovered Gateway Arts, an organization empowering over 100 adults struggling with disabilities to fulfill their artistic passions. Gateway Arts gives these adults the opportunity to pursue careers in art, offering classes, supplies and showcasing their art in the Gateway Arts store. Gateway Arts offers not only a sanctuary for those artists, but also the opportunity to work towards financial independence, earning 50% commission on the artwork sold. This organization felt like the perfect partnership for a charitable component of my business and by December 2020, I was able to donate $5000 to support Gateway Arts.
This story began in March, at the strike of COVID and the endless unknowns, but through my journey I realized what made me “Tik.” I realized what gave me the greatest fulfillment of all: the positive impact I could make on others and the fulfillment of growing my own business. Although the story I share began just months ago, I hope it’s a reminder to search for the silver linings in each moment. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Handmade @lindsayrustperper mask chains launched in August, 2020, to provide a stylish twist on our mandatory new COVID accessory: the mask. Each chain is handmade by Lindsay, using semi-precious stones, pearls, and glass beads. The mask chains serve not only as a way to keep track of your mask, but also as a convertible attachment to sunglasses or a necklace!
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