Student brings Pura Vida Bracelets to campus, raises money for Costa Rica

Port Huron junior Emily Shinavier was surfing the Internet when she came across Pura Vida bracelets — now her job is to help them expand.

“I always look for cool stuff online, like random stuff that no one has,” she said. “I ran across the website and noticed they were looking for campus reps.”

According to its website, Pura Vida bracelets started when two college graduates vacationed in Costa Rica and discovered a poor man, Jorge, making bracelets on the street.

The two asked Jorge to make 400 of the bracelets for them to take home. After returning to California, they displayed the bracelets at a local boutique shop. Soon the bracelets were gone and people were asking for more.

For Jorge, selling two bracelets a week in Costa Rica turned into a business selling 15,000 a week in surf shops, college bookstores, boutiques and nationwide chain stores. In just a year, Pura Vida has more than 700 stores in nine countries selling its bracelets and their story.

While providing jobs for people in Costa Rica, Pura Vida also donates a portion of the profits to the Surfrider Foundation in an effort to protect and clean up beaches and oceans worldwide. Before the success of the booming business, Jorge was living in a one-room space with three beds that he shared with family members.

Shinavier said she applied and received the position as the campus representative for Central Michigan University.

“I thought it would be something cool to bring to Central,” Shinavier said.

She said the handmade bracelets are comprised of different color arrangements, so it’s hard to find someone with the same one.

“That makes them unique,” she said.

Shinavier said she has contacted local stores about selling the bracelets, which cost $5 to $12.

“My job is to spread the word to campus and Mount Pleasant,” she said.

Shinavier receives no money from selling bracelets, although she gets free bracelets.

“That’s how I promote them,” she said. “I show people the ones I have on.”

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pura Vida has a special pink bracelet Shinavier has been promoting all month.

Her mother, Debbie, said she recently purchased 50 “Miracle” Pura Vida bracelets for a friend dying of cancer.

“It’s a neon, bright color bracelet. It’s really nice,” Debbie said.

Debbie said she liked that the money from the bracelets sales was going to help the people of Costa Rica.

“The themes to them appeal to me," Debbie said. "The breast cancer and miracle bracelet make it meaningful.”

She said supporting Emily and a good cause is a good feeling.

Emily mainly uses social media for marketing.

Once she started posting on Facebook, she said she received instant feedback.

“I really like that I can do something good for the planet while also helping the less fortunate,” Emily said.


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