The Cost of Doing Good with Isaiah Garza

By Isaiah Garza

March 1, 2023

Balance? What’s that?! I’m probably the worst person to ask about balance. I’m just really, really obsessed with creating content. But that’s because I’ve seen several times now how one piece of content can alter the course of someone’s life.

Recently, a wrong turn in downtown LA led me to a family sitting on a curb. What could have ended with a glance in the other direction became an opportunity to use my phone to connect with people around the world, and to give a family in need a chance to start fresh.

But I’ll get back to that.

# HumbleBeginnings

"I was homeless multiple times. I was sleeping in abandoned office buildings, sleeping in my car. There were times that I was really really hungry and I had nothing so I know what that’s like."

First, let’s rewind. When I started out five years ago I had no money whatsoever. I was homeless multiple times. I was sleeping in abandoned office buildings, sleeping in my car. There were times that I was really, really hungry and I had nothing, so I know what that’s like. I would have never been able to predict that one day Justin Bieber would be wearing a piece of my jewelry on stage, or that I’d have clients like Cardi B and Chance the Rapper.

Through every struggle, I held onto the belief that as long as your heart is always in the right place, things will work out for you. I’d tell myself: Take it one step at a time and lead with positivity. Everything happens for a reason. When something doesn’t work out, maybe it’s because it was supposed to lead you somewhere else. I really believe that.

Like, when I went to school at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), I was on a real tight budget. But if you let the things that you can't control control you, it’s gonna destroy you.

"It’s important to get out of your head when creating. Don’t worry about whether it’ll do well and just focus on love."

So I would literally just go to the fashion district in LA and figure out how to make something work with $50. I was buying random supplies and putting things together. When you believe in something you really will do whatever it takes. And that’s what I did. I led with love and kindness, worked hard, and made sure I was ready for the day when the tide would change.

# FashionMeetsFundraising

My big break came when a friend of mine from FIDM gave me a chance. They were working on a photo shoot with Rihanna, and I shot my shot and asked if I could give them some of my jewelry to use for Rihanna’s styling. That one “yes” paid off big time. Rihanna wore my jewelry on the cover of a French fashion magazine, and when the cover was released, my entire inventory immediately sold out. One image = Life changed.

To someone who is struggling, even a little help and positivity can be incredibly meaningful. Not only in my own life, but also in working with trafficking survivors and the homeless, I’ve seen over and over that a lot of people just need someone to believe in them, relate to them, and talk to them like a friend. All of us have the ability to make the world a better place, so I try to make sure that I give chances to others whenever I can. That’s where my phone comes in.

I love making videos that have meaning, and it’s so cool to see how many millions of people around the globe have connected with the stories I’ve been able to share. With every video I create, I have an opportunity to fundraise for someone in need, and to bring others in on giving back. This wealth of happiness and compassion and love that you get from helping people is the most beautiful thing in the world.

“If it’s social good and I know it’s going back to people who are in need then that’s good enough for me.”

I’ve also had the opportunity to partner with companies that care. When working with brands, the vetting process is pretty simple for me really. If it’s social good and I know it’s going back to people who are in need, that’s good enough for me. With KFC, we did some fundraising and gave out half a million dollars to non profits across the US fighting hunger in their communities. I loved that they were very transparent, so it was easy for me to want to be a part of. I got to see all the submissions and the research and participate in the whole process.

# DreamBig

I want to keep doing what I am doing on a world-wide scale, where I can eventually have schools in developing countries and provide supplies for kids. I’d like to set up my own shelter for homeless human trafficking survivors and abuse survivors. I’m just gonna throw this out there, but I would love to have a talk show, with a part of the talk show being me helping people. (I am actually part of the Drew-Gooders segment on the Drew Barrymore Show. She’s such an amazing human being. Maybe this is the first step to my own show.) I want to be one of the biggest non profits in the world someday, where every day is a life we’re saving. But I also think it’s important to start in your own community so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Which brings me back to the beginning and the family I met in downtown LA. With this specific family, they had just gotten kicked out of their shelter and I came upon them because I took a different turn home. Again, this is why I say everything happens for a reason. Taking that “wrong” turn led me to these people who needed a chance. I pulled out my phone, made a video to tell their story, and posted it online. The response was incredible. With the help of social media, we were able to get them a house and raise a little under sixty thousand dollars from the video. It’s almost like I was meant to meet them.

It’s hard to go home knowing you can’t help everyone in the world. Honestly, I actually struggle a lot with just taking the time to stop and smell the flowers. I always have my phone on me. But the philosophy that's helped me is if you can just help one person, that’s one person in life that you can save and it multiplies from there. With just me and my phone, I’ve been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people. It’s a small effort on my end and a huge benefit for the people being helped.

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