Rashima Sonson’s Movement to Save Lives
By Victoria Cates, Movement Maker Tribe Editorial Team Member
In this time of uncertainty and confusion, so many people in the U.S. want to do their part in helping health care professionals and those who have weaker immune systems. One Firestarter who stands out is Rashima Sonson. She has been making masks and donating them to hospitals across the country, as well as selling them on her website.
Sonson is an LSU grad who has always had a love for fashion. On March 21, 2020, the entrepreneur’s business turned 6 years old. She started her business, SONSON, with the intent to provide products that included family heirlooms and memorabilia for men. “I did this because I am the oldest of 5 siblings and one of my brothers had their first son. I wanted to create something for him and his son that they could remember and bond about.”
Sonson has experience and a background in apparel design that she received at LSU, and she figured she could take her fashion skills and make them a tie. “I realized things that you make for someone have more of a sentimental value than something you just purchase.” After she made her first tie, people started asking for them. She figured this would be a great business and six years later she says it still feels right.
From making ties to tying masks
On March 19, 2020, Sonson decided to pause her business and work on things in her life. “I was on social media a lot and seeing what was happening with healthcare professionals due to Covid-19. I realized I had all of this material and fabric and decided to make some masks and donate them.” And that is exactly what she did. The LSU alum started to make the masks and post them on her social media. People started commenting on her feed “They are so beautiful” or “Where can I get one?”, which led her to make them sell.
The original plan was to make the masks and donate them to the bay area, which is where Rashima is currently located. “As days passed on, I kept hearing in the news about how other places were being affected. So I decided to send them to other places in the U.S.” She has sent masks to hospitals in New Orleans, John Hopkins, and other places all over the country. She sends out about 25 to 50 units a week in care packages to hospitals. “I am happy I am able to help because if I had not had all of this extra fabric and material from my bow-tie business, I would never have been able to put out the units and quantity that I have.”
Sonson’s good deed has had no problem getting major news attention. Since the start of making masks, she has been featured in publications such as Forbes, XO Necole, The Official Black Wall Street, 7×7, Harlem’s Fashion Row, and Shoppe Black.
The Firestarter knows there are a lot of people helping in this manner, but she doesn’t mind this type of competition. “What has helped me is that a lot of people have supported my business. I have been in the fashion industry for decades and studied fashion and textile science. So I didn’t just decide to pick up a sewing machine and see what happens.” One big thing that helped her succeed is that she took into account the regulatory standards for apparel and accessories, and sourced her products effectively on what was needed and what the CDC recommended.
Since March 20th, her business has already sold more than 500 masks, and for such a small business, Sonson is very excited to have such a high number. To date, the business has already donated 200 masks, with the number of masks donated rising. From a reporting standpoint, her online traffic has increased over 2,000% just from social media alone. In a matter of weeks, her company has produced a little under 1,000 masks.
Every week her website offers new prints and she will also be having a Mother’s Day promotion. Sonson is constantly getting DM’s and comments asking when there will be more masks because her customers love them so much. “The best thing for people to do, since I can’t respond to everyone, is to subscribe to my website’s newsletter. It will notify you right away about new products and deals.”
The website also offers reversible masks that customers have been going crazy for. Customers have been posting reviews such as: “These masks are awesome!”, “I absolutely love the mask. It is a great fit, beautifully designed, and well made. I will definitely reorder.”, and “Stellar Products!”.
One son to another
“My business’ mantra has always been called one son to another, which is similar to saying I am my brother’s keeper. My business has always been about supporting the community and being of service.” Each year her business does a back to school bow-tie give away to kids and right now they are donating masks to health care professionals. She wants the world to know that they are not all about making money, even though they are business, they also have a philanthropic side as well. Thanks to Firestarters like Sonson, so many people will be healthier and happier due to their masks.
About the Author
Victoria “Tori” Cates is a Sophmore at Louisiana State University. Tori hopes to begin a career in fashion upon graduating. Until then, she calls Church Point, Louisiana home, and can’t wait until she can see the 2019 National Champion LSU Football Team in Death Valley again.
About the Series: #BeTheLight is a special campaign of #MovementMakerTribe that aims to bring positivity, optimism, and hope during these uncertain times as a result of the Corona virus.
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