October 22, 2019

Taking ‘Pride’ in Her Jewelry

Photo courtesy of Equality Goods.

When Los Angeles entrepreneur Leah Fredkin started Equality Goods in 2017, she had no idea it would become a chapter in her coming-out story. At the time, all she wanted to do was change the world with a trendy jewelry line.

During the January 2017 Los Angeles Women’s March, Fredkin, who is in her early 30s, said she was in awe of all of the strangers she met who were united with one cause. She also noticed many people wearing safety pins on their clothes as a sign of solidarity. 

“It sparked the idea to come up with a fashion-forward brand around the safety pin,” Fredkin told the Journal. [“Equality Goods is] a wearable symbol of liberty and justice for all of humankind,” 

From there, Equality Goods was born. Fredkin’s company created the humanKIND accessories line and her bracelets, necklaces and rings incorporate a silver and gold safety pin for allies to wear in solidarity with an array of social justice causes. 

She also donates a portion of all her proceeds to organizations including March For Our Lives, Planned Parenthood and the historical education group Facing History and Ourselves. Customers can choose where they want their donations to go. 

But Fredkin still wanted to do more, so she created an alliance with the International Rescue Committee and employed local refugees to manufacture the jewelry. Then last year, she decided to create a rainbow safety pin bracelet for Pride Month. Fredkin said this was her “quiet way” of coming out without publicly saying she was gay.

“The Pride bracelet was a tipping point for me. I want to surround myself with people who are open and honest.”

— Leah Fredkin

“It’s ironic because I have this company that was built around equality and I was living this lie, so it really started to weigh on me,” she said. “I never felt comfortable outright sharing my story. It’s still a struggle but I think there’s so much stigma around it and it was hard to express myself. The Pride bracelet was a tipping point for me. I want to surround myself with people who are open and honest, and I needed to get over this fear and be honest.” 

Following the fan favorite bracelet’s design (Fredkin said it was a popular item even before she shared its significance), she came out to her close friends and family. 

Growing up as Reform Jew, Fredkin said her rabbi officiated gay weddings and supported many civil liberty causes, and as a result, she found comfort and support that never made her doubt her religious beliefs. Over time, she realized her worries that her company wouldn’t find success or people would think less of her disappeared. 

Leah Fredkin, CEO of Equality Goods. Photo courtesy of Equality Goods.

“I was really afraid of me,” she said. “Once I came out … for the most part, everyone was really loving. I became really proud of myself because it was empowering for me. It helped me take charge of my company. It was wonderful seeing people believe in me and get behind it.”

Fredkin decided to donate $10 for every rainbow bracelet sold to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which offers medical and mental health examinations, social and housing services, education courses and advocacy training to the LGBTQ community. To date, more than $2,500 has been donated to the center from Equality Goods sales.

Fredkin said while she has marched in previous Pride parades, this year’s parade was the first time she felt confident wearing her own Pride bracelets. Following her interview with the Journal, she shared her experiences publicly on her website’s blog.

 “If you allow yourself to be vulnerable, it allows others to feel that way, too,” she said. “People have responded well and I’ve learned so much from others. That’s the foundation of this company. It’s a bunch of us who all got together, having core values, and it’s all come full circle and it’s exactly what I wanted it to be.”

For more information on Equality Goods and the humanKIND Pride jewelry, visit her website.