By CAROL ANN CAMPBELL
For Montclair Local
Like many recent college graduates just starting out in New York, Hannah Giordano found herself back at her parents’ home after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She remembers returning to Montclair and wishing she could do something to support essential workers as well as those who lost their jobs and were suffering.
“I felt helpless. I didn’t have much money to donate and wondered what I could do,” said Giordano, 23.
She turned to a hobby she’s had her whole life, which she turned into a small business on social media four years ago: creating handmade, knotted friendship bracelets, often with college logos. The hobby has been a success: Her self-described “side hustle” earned enough money to cover her college books at Georgetown University and helped fund her travels during her semester abroad in 2017.
Each summer she would pick the hobby back up and reopen her Instagram for new orders. She would design and knot about 100 to 200 custom bracelets every summer, selling them for $25 each.
When the lockdown hit, she decided to start making friendship bracelets again, “but this time donate all the money to support essential workers and people hurt by the pandemic,” she said. She also wanted to support local businesses. The first $500 she raised paid for 80 lunches that Sandwich Theory delivered to workers at Mountainside hospital.
Giordano then donated to a GoFundMe page that supports the hospital’s employees and also donated to Toni’s Kitchen and Food Bank for NYC, as well as to Black Lives Matter (global network), Know Your Rights Camp, Campaign Zero, Reclaim the Block, Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
She shares her work on her Instagram page, @cant_han_dle_me, which showcases her creative designs.
Giordano knots the bracelets on her time off from her Manhattan job in the cybersecurity field, where she continues to work remotely.
She expected to knot enough bracelets to raise about $500 to support her community.
But her bracelets were a hit, especially among graduating high school seniors, who wanted bracelets with the logos of the colleges they plan to attend in the fall.
Giordano creates all of her own designs on graph paper and then re-creates the designs by knotting embroidery thread. Some people want watermelons, or the name of their sports team. Each bracelet takes about three hours.
Some people generously donated more than $25 for a bracelet. To date, she has raised a total of $4,585, which she has split among Toni’s Kitchen, meals for Mountainside hospital nurses and doctors during the height of fighting the coronavirus, Food Bank for New York City and various Black Lives Matter causes (“I gave my customers the choice of where to donate,” she said).
“I was so surprised by the response,” Giordano said. “We’re all required to stay home during this pandemic, and my bracelets were a small way for me to make a difference.”
Hannah Giordano can be reached by contacting her through her Instagram page, @cant_han_dle_me.