Ask the Entrepreneur: 3Qs with Ariella Sharf

Third-​​year psy­chology major Ariella Sharf has cre­ated a com­pany called Heads Up for Charity, which has been able to raise aware­ness for sev­eral causes around the world by com­bining fashion and gen­erosity. In Jan­uary, she was pre­sented with the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Association’s I AM A Husky Award, which rec­og­nizes one stu­dent per month who has excelled aca­d­e­m­i­cally and pro­fes­sion­ally and has made an impact on campus and in the com­mu­nity. Here, we asked Sharf to dis­cuss her busi­ness and how North­eastern has helped her along the way.

Ariella Sharf, a third-year psychology major, has created a company called Head’s Up for Charity, which has been able to raise money and awareness for several causes around the world. You may be surprised to discover how she came up with the idea. Photo courtesy of Ariella Sharf.

What made you start your business and how did you get to where you are now?

I always dreamed of starting my own business, but it was a far-fetched dream. Before I actually started Heads Up For Charity, I remember asking my boyfriend at the time to help me start a business. I had no idea what it would be; I just felt in my gut that it was in my life story to start one. One night, during the spring of 2013, I was bored, so I took a penny out of a cup sitting in my room that held about 75 cents worth of pennies that I had found over time, or, rather, had followed me. I made a bracelet using that one penny and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up and the brand name came to me: Heads Up For Charity. I had no business plan, no nothing, just a bracelet and a name.

Next, I came up with the goal of my business, which was to create and expand a successful retail company while using philanthropy to change society. I formed the mission statement, which is: “We want to raise people’s ‘Heads Up’ to what is going on in the world and encourage them to give back in a fashionable way. It is simply fashion for a cause.”

The wheels in my head are always turning, and I always carry a notebook in my handbag so I can jot down every single idea that comes to mind. I got to where I am today by honestly following my heart and believing in myself, believing that I have the power to change the world even if it happens to be in the slightest way possible.

What were the biggest lessons you learned while trying to build your business?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far while building my business is to never turn down an opportunity. People often lose sight of what goals they are trying to reach. I created a vision board a couple of years ago with everything I hope to accomplish in my lifetime. I hid it under my bed, promising myself I would wait a few years before I pulled it out to look at again. One of the things I put on there was to be successful, but love what I do. If I turned down half of the opportunities that have been given to me, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have today.

I have also learned that you also need to create your own opportunities. Along my journey, I have reached out to many brands and been able to collaborate with some of them. These include a scarf brand called Donni Charm, a jewelry company called Frieda and Nellie, and an online selling platform called Fancy. Through these experiences, I’ve found that networking is more important than a lot of people think. For Donni Charm and Frieda and Nellie, we put a penny on their merchandise and donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity of their choice while creating custom pieces in the process. As for, we sell product through its website, with a portion of the proceeds going to the company as a commission and a portion going to Heads Up and a selected charity. Working with successful brands has not only helped mine to grow, but has afforded me a large number of learning opportunities as well.

How has Northeastern helped you along the way?

Northeastern has first and foremost provided me with the academic skills to be able to run my own business. Although I am only in my third year, I have tried three different majors and two different minors. I guess you could say I was extremely indecisive, but Northeastern has been very supportive and helped me feel comfortable in knowing it was okay to follow my own path and not to stick to a strict regimen. I was given the flexibility to really find my calling in school, which led me to find my calling in life.

1 comment

  1. So it is over­priced cloths/​jewelry that is accom­pa­nied by a cute story and an ambi­tious claim? I would love to know the % of pro­ceeds that actu­ally get into the hands of the people that need them. donating to char­i­ties directly skim off enough change by them­selves, but now there are two hands reaching out before the money gets where it needs to be.

    Those are just my first, honest, thoughts. Props to starting some­thing that makes you happy. I would just con­tinue ques­tioning whether you are doing enough and con­sider how lucky you are to even be in a posi­tion to have the free time or guid­ance to carry this idea out.

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