Alison Reckewey hand beads earrings for her small business, Spitfire July.
Alison Reckewey beads a set of her handmade earrings she sells for her business Spitfire July. Reckewey launched Spitfire July in Nov. 2019 after running an Etsy shop since 2011. Courtesy photo

Alison Reckewey, owner of Spitfire July, participates in monthly campaigns and donates her own profits to help those in need

Within the first year of launching, many small businesses are just trying to survive. Alison Reckewey is a small-business owner who has used her success to help others. 

In November 2019, Reckewey rebranded her former Etsy shop and created a website and Instagram page for Spitfire July, her business where she makes handmade clay and beaded jewelry and stickers. 

Since then, she has raised more than $3,000 for charities and nonprofit organizations in Nebraska and across the country. 

Reckewey started her first campaign for the hospice center The Monarch in honor of her mom Brenda, who died from a brain tumor in February 2019.

“The Monarch campaign was definitely close to the heart,” Reckewey said. “I made a huge collection of jewelry I thought that my mom would have worn and donated 100 % of the proceeds.”

The campaign ran this year from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5, the same days Reckewey’s mom was in hospice at The Monarch a year earlier.

“I wanted to raise money to help those whose families can’t afford hospice care,” she said. “The goal was to raise enough money to pay for two days of hospice care, which is around $720. But, I ended up raising $2,520, which covers a week of hospice care.”

The campaign motivated Reckewey to keep doing good for the world around her with Spitfire July as her platform. 

“That was just kind of a very therapeutic starting point, and I’d like to make it an annual campaign,” she said. “And then that kind of opened the door to being like ‘Oh, I can do this as a business instead of just as a person.’”

IMG 20200819 190003 01 scaled - Lincoln small business owner makes effort to help others
Alison Reckewey poses with a pair of her handmade beaded earrings. Reckewey has been participating in campaigns as well as donating her own proceeds to raise money to help those in need. Courtesy photo

Her next campaign was through the Instagram account, Still We Rise.  Reckewey donated jewelry to the auction benefiting No Kid Hungry, World Central Kitchen and local food banks. The campaign collected around $58,000.

Reckewey said the Still We Rise account opened her up to more connections of pre-made campaigns. The campaigns are established and deal with the behind the scenes work, so Reckewey only has to decide what she wants to donate.

“I followed a lot of other artists participating and just kept finding more and more of these campaigns I wanted to help donate to,” she said. “It also kind of creates a community among artists.”

She then participated in a campaign for the LNK art auction with the Lux Art Center, where she donated $200 worth of her jewelry.

“After doing those three campaigns, I realized I was successful enough to actually have regular donations,” Reckewey said. “I decided I wanted to donate 5 percent of my monthly sales guaranteed and donate to topical organizations.”

The first organizations Reckewey donated a percentage of her monthly sales to were the Black Leaders Movement in Lincoln and Pride.

Reckewey said she made a mini-collection of jewelry for the organization and ended up donating all of her proceeds.

Following the theme of donating to organizations relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement, Reckewey held a campaign with Soul Trak Outdoors, Camp Founder Girls and Black Outside Inc. The campaign aimed to get children and communities of color outside. Reckewey said the campaign ran through July and August, and she raised $180 for each organization. 

As she grew as an artist and started gaining a following, Reckewey said she made her own community of artist friends that came together for her latest campaign.

“I’m in a Facebook group of about 1,000 other artists and one girl in there is raising money to be able to have hearing aids because her insurance doesn’t cover it,” she said. “We all wanted to help so we’re all donating an item and I’m also donating 5 percent of my monthly proceeds as well.”

Much like her first campaign, Reckewey said her inspiration for her business and helping others came from her mom.

“This is how my mom raised me,” she said. “That’s why The Monarch thing even came into my mind is because this is what my family does. If someone needs help, you figure out how to do it.”

Senior journalism major from Fremont, Neb.