Jenny Ries

Wilson models one of the shirts she designed.

Benefaction International: Wilson builds company with goal of giving back

February 10, 2019

Students find a variety of ways to occupy their time outside of school, whether with sports, performing arts, volunteer work, or myriad other activities. One such student, junior Naomi Wilson, has chosen to devote some of her spare time to starting her own company, Benefaction International. Consisting of a website, plus Twitter and Instagram accounts, this company sells t-shirts designed by Wilson and donates 50 percent of the proceeds to two different non-profits, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) and Pardada Pardadi.

A transformative experience inspired Wilson to start Benefaction International.

“The idea of starting this company [came to me] between my freshman and sophomore year when I went to a trip to India with Me to We [a non-profit],” she said. “While I was on the trip I sort of had this idea of using my privilege and capitalism… to kind of better the community around me, and then also the international community.” 

Wilson named her company Benefaction International with intention.

“The first part of the name is ‘benefaction,’ which is… like a gift, and the idea with my company was to sell a product and then have a portion, right now it’s 50 percent, of the proceeds be donated to another non-profit. So, like, a gift to the customer and the non-profit would also be getting a gift,” she said.

As for ‘international’?

“That came from the idea of supporting organizations across the globe and then also, since it’s online, just having that site and that platform and store available globally,” Wilson said.

The idea with my company was to sell a product and then have a portion […] of the proceeds be donated to another non-profit.

— Naomi Wilson

The Benefaction International website has been up for about 3 months, since around October, and two different t-shirt designs are available for purchase, both designed by Wilson. One of these t-shirt designs is likely familiar to many students: the black ‘I Believe Survivors’ t-shirt that can be often be spotted in the hallways. Wilson noted that she sold this shirt through HerSpace.

The other t-shirt design features a 9-dot puzzle with the words ‘Think Outside The Box.’

“I have those two [shirts] available on my website, then I also have a couple of blog posts regarding minimalism and self-care and also goals and goal setting, that sort of stuff,” she said.

Despite the fact that Wilson has found a market at school, her company is beginning to gain exposure in the outside world, as well.

“I am getting quite a bit of traffic from social media, because I have an Instagram page [and] a Twitter page, where I usually post updates on my blog posts, and I’m getting a lot of traffic from that,” she said. “And then, also actually from different countries as well. Last time I checked I had got… clicks from Germany and Israel and Canada.”

Benefaction International’s success has not come without hard work on Wilson’s part.

“During the time when I was designing the t-shirts and trying to get all that figured out, I’d say I maybe like 2 hours per day. It was a lot of work over the weekend,” she said.

But things have calmed down since then.

I’m really hoping to […] work directly with the non-profits that I’m donating to.

— Naomi Wilson

“Right now, it’s probably been, maybe around 30 minutes per day, just with me writing the blog post and then also checking in on social media just to see if anyone mentioned my company or stuff like that,” Wilson said.

As far as goals, Wilson said, “Long term, I’m really hoping to be able to truly kind of work directly with the non-profits that I’m donating to. Right now, I’m… not considered that successful, but hopefully, once I become more famous and influential, then maybe I’ll be able to get to those organizations and make more specific deals, like having the money go towards a certain project when it goes to them.”

Finally, Wilson wants SPA students to know that she is open to hearing their opinions.

“If they have any questions or concerns… I’m always encouraging people to kind of reach out to me. Like, if they have any suggestions on how [the company] can improve, whether if it’s like, maybe the tee shirts or… they think the pricing should be different, then maybe just talking to me directly. I encourage criticism with that,” she said.

This piece was originally published in the February print edition of The Rubicon.

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