Share & Do Good giving boutique inspires with stories

Share and Do Good

When Lilly Tokuyama attended a Christian music festival in August 2011, she had no idea she would walk away inspired to open a business. She had come upon Hello Somebody, an organization that was selling brightly colored silicon watches to help feed hungry kids and improve the lives of children in need. When the executive director told Tokuyama he wished more people knew about the good Hello Somebody was doing around the world, Tokuyama thought, “There should be a store that sells stuff like this.” Although Tokuyama had never opened a business before, she knew this was something she had to do. Through risk taking, bumps along the way, and a capacity for the adventure of a lifetime, Tokuyama opened giving boutique Share & Do Good in downtown Fullerton in October 2012 and just celebrated the store’s one-year birthday.

Share and Do Good

Tokuyama, who previously worked in sales and marketing, started paperwork for her business venture in January 2012 and in April that year began pop up shops at a shopping center and bible studies in Orange County, often selling items directly from the trunk of her car. On top of her full time day job, she spent six to eight hours daily searching for the right retail space. The space in which the store currently resides was not available when Tokuyama first saw and fell in love with it. When Tokuyama felt she had exhausted all options, she gave herself until Friday, August 31, 2012 to find a location or throw in the towel. She found out on Monday, August 27, that the space she had liked most was available. “Right before I was about to totally and completely give up, God provided this great space for me in Fullerton to be a part of,” recalls Tokuyama.

Tokuyama says opening Share & Do Good was the craziest thing she has ever done. “I had a feeling this is what God called me to do. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and it still hasn’t been easy, but I’ve seen the faithfulness of God in each and every step. Another thing has been the support of my friends. That’s been really great to have my friends, people who gave me money because they said this needs to happen. I had so many friends who came to my grand opening on October 27 and shopped and supported. It was 107 degrees and I sold over 30 scarves that day.”

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Tokuyama emphasizes the stories behind each product that Share & Do Good sells. “The giving boutique gives people a chance to give back twice. You can buy a really well designed product to give to a family member or friend, but it also gives back again because every product has a purpose in helping somebody somewhere. I try to let customers know the stories so they can continue to tell them.”

On what sets Share & Do Good apart from similar stores in Orange County, Tokuyama said, “I try to focus strictly on humanitarian projects. I think animals are great and the environment’s awesome and both should be well taken care of. People are usually the great change makers in the world. Maybe one of the women from 31 Bits or Sseko Sandals will end up finding the cure for cancer or finding a better way to help the environment.”

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Products such as Sseko Sandals generate income for high potential, talented young women in Uganda to fund their college education. The mission of 31 Bits is, “use fashion and design to empower women to rise above poverty.” Tokuyama says many of Share & Do Good’s partner organizations have built in wholesale programs and their products can be found at boutiques across the U.S. as well as traditional stores such as Nordstrom and Whole Foods.

Tokuyama values the function, design, and cost of a product in deciding which organizations to partner with. “I feel a well-designed product can tell your story even better. The product is just as important as the cause that it helps.” In addition to partnering with retail-minded organizations, Tokuyama has a passion to come alongside individuals who want to do good. “I’ve had a chance to work with people local to the Fullerton community who want to design a product that can help people,” said Tokuyama. She is currently helping a Fullerton resident to design and hand knit stuffed monsters that will help provide books for a literacy program for preschoolers. The product will join Share & Do Good’s product line.

share & do good embrace illustrations share & do good embrace sign share & do good raven & lily journals

Through her business, Tokuyama has opportunities – such as participating in the monthly downtown Fullerton art walk – to meet people she says she otherwise may not connect with. “People are really supportive of small businesses here. It’s just great to work with people who want to make Fullerton a better place,” said Tokuyama.

Beyond Fullerton, Tokuyama’s dream is to expand the store and have multiple locations to reach as many people as possible with the stories of Share & Do Good’s products. She also hopes to write at least one book as a way to help people who want to do good by educating them on wholesale, marketing, and running a business.

In the meantime, Tokuyama is investing her time, energy, and resources to run the store while also making sure she spends quality time with family and friends. “A lot of the time, my social life isn’t as fun as it could be. I have 12-14 hour days thinking about how to better tell the stories. I haven’t lost money, but I haven’t made money yet,” said Tokuyama, who lives off of savings and freelance work on the side. “It’s totally worth it to be here, and the people I meet are really great, so that kind of makes up for all of it.”

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Tokuyama recalls a new customer who walked into the store on Christmas Eve 2012 as she was about to close early to be home with her ill father. “The man kept walking around the store, saying, ‘Wow, look at this.’ I didn’t know quite how to interact with him. Finally, he picked up a couple items and came to purchase them. He said he had read about me in the OC Weekly article that was published back in October. He was like an angel. I don’t know who the gifts ended up going to, but I told him the stories behind the products and he was so excited to share the stories with the recipients of the gifts. Most likely, he probably would not have found those items elsewhere on his own, but because my store does what it does, he was able to find things that he knew the recipient would like and that he was excited to give as well. That makes it worth it.”

To those who are just starting out with a small business or want to do good, Tokuyama shared a few words of wisdom:

  • Don’t be discouraged. “Where a lot of doors close, as I look back, I can see that was the direction I wasn’t supposed to go in. If this is really what you’re supposed to do, it will happen.”
  • Work hard. “Don’t think it’s just going to happen overnight. I fell into that trap.  I thought, ‘Oh, people will think this is a great idea and people are going to flood into my store.’ It’s still a lot of work, but it’s good work.”
  • Stay connected as much as you can to the world around you. “You never know where things might lead. I really feel like God provides if that’s what you’re supposed to do. As long as you stay focused on what your goal is and trust God to provide, I think that everything will work out, maybe not the way you expect, but definitely the way it was meant to be.”

Share & Do Good is open Monday – Saturday, 11am-6pm, and is located in downtown Fullerton at 110 E. Wilshire Ave. #101, Fullerton, Calif. 92832.

Connect with Share & Do Good via FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

{Photos by Savor Good}

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