In keeping with Yale’s long-standing tradition of political involvement, many Yalies are involved with the 2004 presidential race, helping register voters or passing out literature.
But Yali Lewis ’05 is contributing to the John Kerry’s ’66 presidential campaign in a more creative way, by designing and selling earrings.
Lewis, an Art and Art History double major, founded yaliDESIGNS this summer to sell her handmade earrings online. Since last month, Lewis has donated all of the profits from yaliDESIGNS to the Democratic National Committee.
So far, Lewis has donated a total of $850 to the DNC.
Lewis said she originally wanted to volunteer for the Kerry campaign in her home state of New York, but she decided that fund-raising would be more useful since New York is not a swing state in the upcoming election.
“I wanted to volunteer for the campaign but I felt like the opportunities in my home state were not the best for the campaign,” Lewis said. “I think what’s most original about this fund-raising idea is that I am offering supporters something that is equal in value to their donation.”
Lewis said anyone can contribute to the Kerry campaign through her project because the earrings range in price from $10 to $40.
“The idea is that anyone can participate in this,” Lewis said. “It is not like a $1,000 per plate donation dinner. My goal is to appeal to a wide range of people.”
Lewis sells several types of earrings, ranging in style from funky plastic earrings popular among teenagers and young adults to more elegant gemstone, pearl and silver earrings popular among older adults.
“I have several collections, so everyone can find something to suit his or her personal taste,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ suitemate Allison Hertz ’05 said she thinks Lewis’s project serves as an important political statement.
“When she told me about her project, I thought to myself that it was a brilliant idea,” Hertz said. “Yali is making an important statement that young people can contribute to the American political process in unique and interesting ways.”
Lynn Peterfreund, an artist and a longtime friend of Lewis’ family, said Lewis’ earring designs were creative artworks.
“The earrings are really little sculptures. They have elements of color balance and surprise,” Peterfreund said.
Hertz said the earrings are fashionable and unique.
“The earrings are even more creative than the earrings I’ve recently seen in trendy stores,” Hertz said.
Lewis said she hopes to form a coalition between her organization and other campus organizations in the near future.
“I’d like to move the project from something I’m doing myself to something involving more students,” Lewis said. “I’d like to see a coalition between myself and the Yale College Democrats or the Steering Committee for New Haven/Yale for John Kerry.”
Lewis will sell her earrings on Cross Campus on Sept. 6 from 3 to 5 p.m.