When Jessica Mindich launched Jewelry for a Cause five years ago, she never imagined she would end up working with guns. Her Greenwich, Connecticut-based company designs accessories and donates 20 percent of sales to nonprofit organizations, including DoSomething.org and the Alzheimer's Association.
Mindich's foray into firearms started in December. She was attending a conference in San Diego and met Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. In one of the sessions, Booker spoke about the success of his administration's gun buyback program. Residents were paid cash to turn over weapons, no questions asked. Unfortunately, the initiative lacked funding. Another problem, said Booker, was figuring out what to do with the stockpile of hundreds of weapons.
Mindich approached Booker after the session. "I'll take your guns," she told him. Mindich offered to use the metal to make a jewelry collection, the sales of which would help fund the buyback program. Two weeks later, Mindich met with Newark's police director and a member of the department's ballistics lab. The guns were sorted, cataloged, and fed into an industrial shredder so they could be delivered to Mindich for melting.
The collection, called Caliber, is set to launch this summer. The pieces, priced at $150 to $5,000 each, will be available on Mindich's site, JewelryforaCause.net. By transforming deadly weapons into beautiful baubles, Mindich aims to reflect the resilience of the place once deemed the most dangerous in the U.S. "I hope this gives people the opportunity to have something on their arm, wrist, finger, or neck as a symbol of a city that can change its course," she says.