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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

UF freshman's bracelets help alleviate African poverty

Alexa Carlin has big dreams of becoming a fashion entrepreneur, but she had to start out small.

Carlin, a UF business freshman, began selling bedazzled jean bracelets in ninth grade, but she added a hefty jewel to her belt when she became the youngest designer and the first to sell jewelry for L.A.-based fashion company OmniPeace.

“She is an extraordinary girl who found something that tugged at her heart strings, and she actually followed through with it,” said OmniPeace founder Mary Fanaro.

OmniPeace, which sells everything from T-shirts and handbags to yoga mats and chocolate bars, donates 25 percent of its profits toward ending extreme poverty in Africa by 2025 and supporting peace, education and human rights.

Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Lindsay Lohan and Zac Efron sport the company logo — an image of Africa with five fingers coming out from the top, two of which form a V to represent peace.

Carlin, of Wellington, Fla., has sold more than 300 bracelets and donates 10 percent of the sales to the company. So far, she has donated $500.

The bracelets, which come in red, yellow, green and black, consist of a thin satin band and a dangling chrome charm with the company’s logo.

She discovered the company when she bought an OmniPeace T-shirt from dELiA*s Inc. in the summer of 2008. She started researching the company and was touched by the organization’s philanthropy.

Carlin pitched her bracelet design to OmniPeace in the summer of 2008 when she noticed the then-3-year-old company didn’t sell jewelry.

“OmniPeace’s name was just getting out, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to become a part of this amazing movement,” Carlin said.

Fanaro said she had been approached by a few jewelry manufacturers but didn’t like their designs. When Carlin approached her, though, she was sold. 

Carlin sells the bracelets for $10 through her Web site at helloperfect.com, on OmniPeace’s Web site at OmniPeace.com and from her UF dorm. She has received orders from around the world, including Canada, Mexico, Israel, the United Kingdom, China and Taiwan. Her bracelets are also sold in boutiques in Arizona and Maryland. 

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Carlin uses her middle name, Rose, on the tag, because she has always said this would be her label if she got into the fashion industry.

UF English sophomore Brittany Holtz bought a green bracelet last fall, after Carlin made an announcement to her sorority. 

“It’s a really good cause, and they’re cute too, so it was a win-win situation,” Holtz said.

She never takes it off because it’s comfortable and small enough that it won’t clash with anything, she said. She even sleeps with it on.

Carlin plans to start an OmniPeace club at UF in the fall and is looking for a sponsor.

Although OmniPeace has no immediate plans to make more jewelry, Fanaro said if Carlin approached her with another idea, she would be open to it. 

“I have numerous designs, and I’m just finalizing what my next product will be. Most likely it will be a necklace,” Carlin said.

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