Tina Liu creates custom products to raise money for Black community organizations.
As a way to respond to two current national crises, COVID-19 and racial injustice, rising senior Tina Liu put her creative skills and social media to good use. Beginning in May, Liu started making face masks and earrings to sell on Instagram as “Tina’s Tinys,” then donating all the profits to human rights organizations, specifically those that support the Black community.
Her first release of masks and earring orders ran from May 29 to June 9 and raised over $12,000, with half going to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the other to the Equal Justice Initiative. Liu said the amount raised was especially high because of a generous matching contribution from Estée Lauder.
Liu released her second round of masks ($5–6) and earrings ($6–22) in July. Additionally, she expanded her offerings to include care packages made up of products from local Black-owned businesses, books written by Black authors and handcrafted bookmarks that cost $18–28.
“I am super proud of the second release because we’re able to integrate products from Black businesses and then turn around and put the money that we’re earning back into the Black community,” said Liu.
For this most recent round, all profits are being donated and split between two Texas-based organizations — Restoring Justice, which provides legal and social services to indigent prisoners waiting for trial, and the Afiya Center, an organization that addresses reproductive inequalities for Black women and girls. “This time, we wanted to focus on more local organizations, especially since we donated a lot of money to the two big national organizations with the first release,” Liu said.
The second round of orders closed July 10, with $6,994 raised from sales and corporate matching.
Liu said she has received a great deal of help from her sister-in-law, who acts as her unofficial chief financial officer. “She helps me keep track of every financial detail, like how many people buy things, and she keeps track of inventory.”
Her friend, Christina Tan ’20, also joined the effort by contributing her own creative talents to the second release. “Christina helps me make the custom orders,” Liu said, “like painted earrings or pressed flower earrings.”
Liu said she started Tina’s Tinys because she wanted to find a way to contribute to a larger social cause. “I definitely want to encourage people to continue thinking about ways to use their privilege to support others,” she said.
Check out the project on Instagram: @tinastinys
“Tiny Acts of Kindness,” a project from Rice’s Office of Public Affairs, features stories about Rice Owls responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in kind, creative and effective ways. Read the Rice Magazine series here.