Sitting Down With: IDUNNU TOMORI
Her infant daughter was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia and now, the Atlantan and founder of jewelry company Misayo House gives a percentage of profits from all sales to charity.
Jewelry designer Idunnu Tomori showcases countless creations that include eternity hoops, bangles and chains sold in over ten retail stores (and counting!) and online. And while the cost of the stainless steel and sterling silver pieces — ranging between $50 and $500 — are accessible to many, they’re priceless to others. That’s because Tomori, a mother of two girls ages 14 and 11, donates a portion of her proceeds to charity. Her company, Misayo House gives a percentage of profits from all sales, she says, to the Aflac Center and the Blood Disorder Center in Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where her youngest daughter Toni was treated for sickle cell anemia and had a bone marrow transplant in 2017. Tomori is a mental health advocate, consultant and a philanthropist, having partnered with 30 organizations to raise money for a variety of causes including children, women and families.
How did you become a charity-based company?
When my daughter was having her transplant, she was isolated for a year from everyone and six weeks even from her sister – who was her donor. While she was in the hospital my mom taught her how to make bracelets and it was her idea to sell them and donate the money to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The Child Life Department there — which organizes playtime, gifts, and music, the person who makes sure the kids are able to make it through each day in isolation – is 100 percent donor funded. Toni says she had so much fun, she asked to go back to the hospital when she came home. The bracelets became a hit and so much so the foundation staff at Choa had to start making them. That’s how we became a charity-based company. For her sixth birthday, we had a fundraiser instead of gifts and we raised $50,000.
So you saw first-hand the effect donations have?
Yes, I spoke at the Buckhead Chapter’s “Friends of Choa” luncheon because I see the influence of donor money and what it does. I don’t know how my child would have been if she didn’t have those specialists. And she was lucky, she was a success story. If you think being in isolation for six weeks is long, some kids are in there for a year. She became the Ambassador because her transfer was so successful. And we are so grateful.
And how intentional are you about what your donations fund?
Very intentional. Choa treats most of the country’s sickle cell patients. everyone donates to cancer, but fewer donate to sickle cell, which is prevalent in African Americans. Kids with sickle cell are on meds every day, you need penicillin and folic acid.
Now what’s your goal for philanthropy?
Everything I do is to raise awareness. I sell jewelry – and give back profits – at the Wine, Women & Shoes event in so many cities. I also work to support Susan G. Komen for Breast Cancer, and I raise money through website donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As for my daughter, her blood isn’t sickling anymore.
Brett Graff is SocialMiami.com’s managing editor and has been a journalist covering money, people and power for over 20 years. Graff contributes to national media outlets including Reuters, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Maxim, and the PBS show, Nightly Business Report. A former U.S. government economist, her nationally syndicated column The Home Economist is first published in The Miami Herald and then on the Tribune Content Agency, where it’s available to over 400 publications nationwide. She is broadcast weekly on two iHeartRadio news shows and is the author of “Not Buying It: Stop Overspending & Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids,” a parenting guide for people who might be tempted to buy their children the very obstacles they’re trying to avoid.