Though clubs and student-driven organizations are constantly active here at SIS, one such group stands out in particular. Known as PASSIONFRUIT, Joanne Lee (12) founded the nonprofit organization based off the idea that a huge number of people are passive towards social issues in today’s society, willing to help but choosing to stay silent. PASSIONFRUIT attempts to rectify this problem by selling products related to social issues, which not only raises money that they send to help various fundraisers, but also raises awareness about these causes.
PASSIONFRUIT operates in a quick and efficient manner. First, PASSIONFRUIT sends stickers out to its members, who in turn hold fundraisers and sell them. Any and all funds raised are sent back to the organization, which then proceeds to donate the money to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In addition, the organization has an active network of social media, from Facebook to Instagram to Etsy. Posts on Facebook and Instagram allow PASSIONFRUIT to expand its sphere of influence to a more international audience, while the organization is able to display its catalog and sell all of its merchandise on the Etsy website.
“In the beginning, I designed all of our products by choosing an issue I was passionate about and sketching appropriate designs until I found the ‘right one,’” said Joanne Lee (12), founder of PASSIONFRUIT. “Now, we have designers who are much more talented and creative than I am, and they submit designs revolving around issues they are passionate about. By having more designers involved, I feel like we’re able to represent a wider spectrum of views and cover a more diverse range of issues.”
The organization has a catalog on their website in which buyers can choose which stickers and hoodies to purchase. The former product has been extremely popular among students due to its low price, versatility, and meaning behind them. For instance, “TOO” sticker refers to movements such as Black Lives Matter and the feminism movement, which have received criticism for advocating equal rights for only a specific group. The sticker reminds people that these movements are advocating for equal rights “too,” not equal rights for just one group only. Hoodies, too, have enjoyed popularity, with students expressing approval over their design and comfort. One of the reasons the products are unique is that SIS students take part in the process of making them. Some students design for Passionfruit, while Passionfruit members organize fundraisers and send the money off.
“Working with PASSIONFRUIT has been really cool,” said Minyoung Huh (10), a designer for PASSIONFRUIT. “I always loved the concept of using a business endeavor to donate money to a relevant cause. These days, you see a lot of companies like Forever 21 trying out concepts related to social activism and creating shirts that say “feminism” on the front. However, it is hard to applaud them for their efforts because they profit off of abused female labor. In contrast to those types of ventures, PASSIONFRUIT is a much better option because you know where the clothes are coming from and what cause the money is going to.”
Specifically, PASSIONFRUIT has enjoyed a considerable amount of popularity within the SIS community. Posters that advertise the organization’s merchandise are on the walls of every single floor, while some students walk around the school in their PASSIONFRUIT hoodies. Furthermore, one can spot the abundance of PASSIONFRUIT stickers glued onto the laptops of students and teachers. It is also no secret that many SIS students follow, share, and like PASSIONFRUIT on their social networking apps, which only contribute to increasing the popularity of the brand. In fact, several SIS students have modeled for PASSIONFRUIT, with the pictures from their photo shoot popping up on various social media platforms.
“Modeling for PASSIONFRUIT was a great experience,” said Lynette Kim (10). “I did not feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable in any way because the atmosphere was relaxed—Joanne, who took my photos, brought me over to an area with the best lighting and told me to pose confidently and smile. She made me feel at ease, which is why I think the pictures turned out really nicely. I also think it was nice to help PASSIONFRUIT because the money they receive when they sell the products I played a part in advertising went to a good cause.”
This article is written from a purely objective standpoint and only serves to introduce PASSIONFRUIT’s activities to a larger audience. While several members of the Tiger Times staff have worked for PASSIONFRUIT at one point, their opinions were not integrated, as PASSIONFRUIT is a non-profit organization and in no way affiliated with Seoul International School.