GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio — Charities have suffered greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic, watching donations drop amid the economic fallout. During the summer, a Geauga County woman thought about the charities close to her heart, and decided it was time to do something about it.
So, Kylie Kaufman changed her company and business model to focus on providing gifts that give back. At the center of her motivation, the 5-year-old girl who stole her heart.
Kaufman became an aunt for the very first time in 2015 to a baby girl named Charlotte. It was love at first sight.
“She’s my best friend. I’m obsessed with her. That’s all I can really say,” Kaufman said.
Charlotte currently lives in Texas where her father is stationed in the military. When they are together, aunt and niece love to eat at restaurants, dance and sing.
Charlotte was the motivation for Kaufman’s first business “Rock A Box Baby,” a personalized keepsake gift box with carefully selected baby items. The idea came to Kaufman when she was looking for a present to send her newborn niece.
Charlotte’s inspiration didn’t end there. The little girl opened her aunt’s eyes to a world she hadn’t fully seen before.
“She was born with Down syndrome, and prior to Charlotte, I didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome,” Kaufman shared.
Through Charlotte, Kaufman embraced the wonders and gifts of the special needs community. She began volunteering for programs supporting these children and adults. But Kaufman wanted to do more. So, during the pandemic, Kaufman took a leap of faith and followed her heart, by transforming her business to help people like Charlotte.
“A lot of them don’t have jobs that they should. And that’s why some of the charities I partner with really work on helping those individuals get jobs, interview, learn life skills. There’s so much more potential for them."
In Charlotte, she sees someone who loves hair and photography. Two careers this aunt believes her niece could make an impact in years from now.
Over the summer, Lotte321 was born. A jewelry and accessory company that sends a portion of profits from every sale to organizations and charities supporting those with special needs.
“So Lotte is the last part of Charlotte. And 3-21 is three copies of the 21st chromosome, which is Down syndrome,” Kaufman explained.
Each month, Lotte321 chooses a new disability-focused charity, like GiGi’s Playhouse, a national Down syndrome achievement center with branches here in Northeast Ohio.
In just a few short months, the response to Kaufman’s gifts that give back has been overwhelming.
“A lot of people have said, ‘You know what? I love your jewelry, but I love your cause even more!’”