Quinns Collection adds sparkle to philanthropy

Handmade, fashionable jewelry accessories can be found anywhere in San Francisco, but Quinns Collection adds a twist: Philanthropy.

Madison “Maddie” Smith, 25, launched an online store last month featuring products made in countries like Colombia and Guatemala, and donates twenty-five percent of the proceeds go towards the Homeless Prenatal Program, a Family Service Organization aimed to end childhood poverty in San Francisco.

This issue impacted Maddie Smith early on, volunteering for Harbor Interfaith Services when she went to Palos Verdes High School in Southern California. This organization helps homeless families get back on their feet by providing shelter and support.

Smith said:

“We don’t really see homeless children on the streets of San Francisco with a cup in their hand. … It’s taboo.”

Smith’s vision was to combine her love for fashion with her passion for social issues, and so the Quinns Collection — named after her horse — was born. With no financial help, she began by obtaining a business license and a few beads to make jewelry.

Quinns headquarters is Smith’s small downtown apartment. With her living room as a storage space for her products, Smith hand-makes bracelets and long, necklace-like beads, called “malas.”

She takes pride in making jewelry and buying pieces that are fair trade products. Smith researches and makes sure that the supplies that she buys are ethically made and that the workers are being paid properly.

One of her colorful bags, the Medellín Mochila, is made in Colombia by Wayuu women. On the Quinns website, it states that by buying these products, customers are helping stimulate their local economy.

On top of being a small business owner and a full time student at Academy of Art University, Smith also Volunteers at the Homeless Prenatal Program as a computer lab coordinator. Some of her duties include helping people make resumes, set up email addresses, and look for jobs.

Smith describes her mother as one of her “best costumers.” Her friends help her with a multitude of tasks like helping her run the social media sites and pricing concepts.

Her friend, Makayla Smith, jokes that she is the Vice President of Quinns but she said the reality is that Maddie Smith has invested her heart into it:

“Any aspect of making, selling, or buying jewelry can be rather enjoyable, however, when this enjoyment also assists others in having a chance to enjoy their lives — it makes it that much better.”

Quinns has already donated to the Homeless Prenatal Program and will do so on a quarterly basis. The program is grateful for the help and that funds like this are “unheard of especially for a start up company,” said Sharon Bechtol, the Volunteer and Donations Coordinator of the program:

“San Franciscans can partner with homeless and low-income families to break the cycle and work toward family health and stability, in an effort to contribute to a more equitable and healthy community.”

Along with a philanthropic approach, Quinns’ products have quirky names and unique styles. Some popular jewelry products are called “Dr. Evil” and “Dirty Mermaid,” which are randomly named by her friends, Maddie Smith told SFBay. And Quinns’ motto shows it:

“Be nice, do good, stay weird.”

Quinns has new products hitting their website soon, like home décor and more variations on accessories. They also have plans to build a community through their business, with events like an Ocean Beach clean up November 14.

Smith hopes to pick four families in need and take care of their Christmas list by donating gifts. She told SFBay they plan to expand their business by donating to other homeless programs as their business grows stronger:

“I see all of these problems around me. … And this is my way of doing something to make a difference.”