Good morning everyone! Welcome to a new spotlight here on HDB, where we feature small businesses and organizations.
When I first entered the world of bookstagram, I was blown away by all the people out there who put their heart, soul, and passion into the bookish items that we all love to fill our shelves with. This is my attempt to give them some love, and introduce you to the people behind those shops!
We're kicking off this new feature with a brilliant charity program that was dreamed up by one of my newest (and particularly amazing) friends on Bookstagram! Check out Sam and her passion project, Bookmarks for Kindness.
A desire to do good
Simple acts of kindness can be some of the most powerful. Bookmarks for Kindness is an Instagram based project encouraging that idea.
My name is Sam, and I started Bookmarks for Kindness (B4K) at the very end of 2016. I think that was a tough year for a lot of people, and as it came to a close I started looking for ways to express myself more, and also to relieve stress. One of the best outlets I found was drawing and watercolor painting. Making bookmarks for my favorite books was an obvious choice for me and after sharing them on my Bookstagram account (@sammaybereading) my followers encouraged me to start selling my work.
Initially I thought I would open an etsy shop, and try to make some truly unique bookmarks for fellow bookworms, but I had a lot of concerns. What if I couldn’t keep up with demand, what if it stopped being fun, or what if I accidentally copied another artist? I carried these thoughts for a couple days, when an idea struck.
Misha Collins, Supernatural actor and all around do-gooder, has done a lot in his life to proliferate the idea that simple acts of kindness have power. He created Random Acts and GISHWHES to encourage people to be kind to others in their daily lives. I have participated in GISHWHES several times, and I had such an amazing time doing silly things that made myself and others smile.
In the few months I ran a bookstagram account prior to starting B4K, I saw so much kindness. People give books and bookish merch away for free all the time. Customers go out of their way to help promote and share products from small businesses they love just because they love them! It’s a community of people helping others achieve their creative dreams, and I just love it. I also saw people in the community who couldn’t afford the bookish goodies they wanted either because they were younger and couldn’t get the money, or because they lived in a country where shipping was a problem. I didn’t want money to be a barrier for people to get my bookmarks if they liked them. That idea, combined with my experiences with random acts of kindness helped make B4K a fully formed idea.
My ultimate goal is to provide book worms with bookmarks from their favorite series at very little to no cost. I want to share my work with those who appreciate it, and I want to let people use kindness as currency. If I can use my time and my talent to share a little bit of light with a small corner of the internet, then I have achieved my goals!
I also wanted to show that creators don’t work in isolation on bookstagram, and that it is possible for us to support each other and build each other up, rather than competing and trying to be better than all the other shops. In an effort to do that, I have partnered with a few other artists to provide bookmarks that I send out for free! Some of those creators include @doubleasees, @zwischenseitlich, and @highladyaelin. There are more contributors joining very soon and I am so excited to have a greater variety of work to share.
In an effort to encourage and celebrate the community of Bookstagram, I also gathered a group of brand reps who are helping me to share the message of kindness, and all the additional goals I hope to achieve (read on for those!). They are currently @insidethepagesblog, @book.by.book, @longlivereading, @randomrivendellreader, and @books_n_the_beach. They all take such lovely bookmark photos and they are all awesome kind people. I have really enjoyed working with them. I am so excited to see how they can help the project grow!
I get a lot of questions from people who are new to B4K about how they can purchase bookmarks, or where the shop is located. There is no shop, but I do have a blog where there is some additional info on the project.
I provide two main ways of getting bookmarks. You can post a photo in your instagram feed or story about a recent random act of kindness and tag @bookmarks_for_kindness in the post. This could be anything from buying a stranger’s coffee, cooking dinner for a friend, writing a letter to someone you haven’t heard from in awhile, or volunteering at a local library. Any good deed no matter how large or small with earn you bookmark mail!
The second way you can get bookmarks is through one of the donation options I offer through the blog. Every month I promote a different charity, and any donations given receive bookmarks as a thank you gift. In February, my donation event raised over $600.00 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I did donate matching funds myself, and one particular donor was very generous, but I am very proud of what I was able to do in a month with the help of others!
This month I am promoting Room To Read, a literacy organization helping to educate children in Africa and Asia. My goal this month is $300.00, the amount Room To Read asks for to support life skills education in secondary school for a year. We have raised close to $100.00 already, enough to teach 2 children to read and write for 1 year! I hope we will reach the $300.00 goal, but I need more help to get there!
There is also a Patreon account for B4K, where supporters can donate a few dollars every month to help defray the cost of bookmark supplies and stamps. None of the money from the patreon goes into my pocket, it is only used to keep B4K going! There is an option there to donate $5/month and receive a subscription package every month. I would love for more support through this avenue, as I am unsure I will be able to keep this project going on my own as it grows.
I occasionally do giveaways and Kindness Challenges on my page, and I happily provide bookmarks for others’ giveaways as well, as I feel they are an act of kindness in their own right. Feel free to contact me if you even want to include a little kindness in your next giveaway!
I am thrilled to announce that I am partnering with Read em and Steep, a new monthly subscription box focusing on indie books, and bookish goodies! I am making bookmarks for this box every few months and I can’t wait for it to get started. The first box will be released in May. Projects like this one do allow me to get some money from this project, but part of my payment is a donation to my charity of the month! Jada at Read em and Steep also introduced me to Room To Read, and she supports that charity through the book box as well!
As the convention season quickly approaches, I am hoping to get a few packages of bookmarks ready to take with me to give out to attendees! Currently I am planning to be at YallWest in Santa Monica, Wondercon in Anaheim, and also San Diego Comic con. I may hand those bookmarks out to people who I see committing random acts of kindness, who seem like they could use a pick me up, or anyone who knows about the project! I’m excited to meet some followers for real this season and interact offline.
I hope you will consider engaging with and supporting B4K on instagram! I am always happy to talk about life, mental health, charities I could promote, and any bookmark design ideas you may have! Thank you for taking time to read about my project.