BALLSTON SPA — Starting with a stroke of pencil to draw a mandala ends with providing hungry children with up to 26 meals for Betsy Phelps Seplowitz, owner of Nourish Design.
Seplowitz said she starting drawing mandalas for her own peace of mind and enjoyment. A mandala is defined as a geometric configuration of symbols. This past fall, she published her mandalas on her personal social media account and people responded so positively she wanted to use them to help support meals for kids. Along with drawing mandalas, Seplowitz volunteers to work for the local elementary school backpack program so she tied those two together to create Nourish Design.
“It hit a nerve with me that there are so many children who don’t have consistent access to food at home, so its something that’s been really important to me,” Seplowitz said.
The Feeding America backpack program is run through local food banks to provide bags of food elementary children can take home at the end of each week. Even though children can access free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs during the school day, Seplowitz said children still go home hungry. She said the food bank serves 7000 kids per year, and even though each week they supply a backpack, there are many that are in need.
To get her idea started, Seplowitz met with the food bank to ensure her idea was in-line with what they could do and started researching products to place her mandala designs on.
“I wanted to source products that people would love… I want people to feel good and remember to take care of themselves and to look at the small things that they can find positivity in,” Seplowitz said.
In addition to the backpack program, Seplowitz said the food bank is currently expanding a pantry program, which supports middle school and high school students who also have needs.
“Once they leave elementary school there’s not a magic source at food in home so they’re currently expanding this pantry program as well,” Seplowitz said.
Nourish Design offers t-shirts, tote bags, letterpress notecards, water bottles, kitchen tea towels and most recently baby onesies. Rather than giving a percentage of profits Nourish Design makes, Seplowitz wanted to tie a certain number of meals per product. She said a t-shirt would support 12 meals for kids while a tote bag they sell with leather handles donates 26 meals. The food bank then takes the funding Seplowitz provides and puts it wherever the greatest need is: the backpack program or the pantry program.
“I hope people help me get my word out and share my mission,” Seplowitz said. “Buy some Nourish gear, wear it and tell the story of it. People tell me that they have others comment on their tote bag and I think it’s great for people not to say ‘oh thanks I love it too,’ but ‘thanks and let me tell you what’s cool about it.’”
Seplowitz said the company officially launched late Nov. 2019 and has raised over 3000 meals to date.
“The mission really inspires everyone. I’m doing something that I love and I’m having a really big impact on a lot of kids so it kind of comes easy to me. It’s something that I really love doing and the mission is empowering. To think there are little kids that might get a breakfast in the morning that might not otherwise is huge,” Seplowitz said.
Nourish Design does not currently have a store, but Seplowitz said she has an online website people can purchase her products on. Along with that, she partakes in craft fairs and pop-up shops.