Why Missy Newsom donates a percent of sales to Mengo Children’s Foundation and other charities
Jewelry designer Missy Newsom
When Missy Newsom helped her 16-year-old daughter create and sell jewelry as a service project at Academic Magnet High School, she didn’t expect it to become a full-time job.
Proceeds from the sales went to the Mengo Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit that provides assistance to orphans and other children in Uganda. Newsom and her daughter had learned about the group through her son’s soccer team and former Charleston Battery player Mike Azira, who was raising awareness about the organization, founded by a friend in his home country.
Newsom found the project fulfilled her creative and philanthropic spirit, so she hosted a fundraising party and sold 80 pieces of her hand-wired jewelry. Soon after, the pediatric physical therapist quit her job and launched J. Melissa Designs, selling ”Made on Purpose” earrings, rings, and necklaces and donating 10 to 15 percent of sales to the Mengo Children’s Foundation, as well as other charities. “To make it all a part of my business mission was a great fit,” she says.
By 2020, J. Melissa Designs could be found in 11 retailers, including Rhodes Boutique and Woodhouse Day Spa & Boutique. When the pandemic closed stores, Newsom developed an online shop, and in the past year, has launched a custom bridal line.
During the pandemic, the needs of the Mengo Village changed, too, with the donations shifting from helping to build a school to providing food and hygiene supplies.
Newsom is grateful to have found a rewarding way to help others. “My hope is that people feel beautiful inside and out wearing their J. Melissa pieces, knowing they are giving the gift of hope,” she says.