Simran Patel started making handmade cards early in elementary school.
Initially, it was just a fun, artistic way for Patel to help loved ones and friends celebrate birthdays and other happy moments.
But creating cards became a serious hobby for Patel by the end of middle school, when she realized her passion for art could translate into making meaningful gifts.
Now a Johnson High School senior, Patel runs an online nonprofit creating and selling her cards and other products, and donating proceeds to help realize life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.
Her artistry aids Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas and Mended Little Hearts of San Antonio.
“On behalf of the children whose wishes Simran has helped grant, Make-A-Wish extends our sincerest gratitude for her belief that wishes simply cannot wait,” said Shelby Gill, chief development officer for Make-A-Wish. “Thanks to Simran, more children will be able to feel hopeful for the future.”
Patel has so far donated more than $2,300 to the foundation through sales of her handmade stationery.
The idea of becoming an entrepreneur emerged when Patel, then 13, attended a business camp at Duke University.
“The camp provided the basic foundation of my understanding of the process behind starting a business,” she recalled.
Simply Simran Inc. was born. The venture offers artwork designed with custom greetings ranging from special occasions and holidays to get-well/wellness wishes and inspirational quotes.
Its website also has watercolors and bookmarks with calligraphy.
“I knew that I wanted to do something related to art if I was going to use my knowledge to start my own business, and since I already loved card making, it seemed like the perfect idea,” she said.
Patel felt, from the start, it was also important to use her profits to uplift less-fortunate youngsters.
A few years ago, one of Patel’s close family friends was diagnosed with leukemia and had a wish granted through Make-A-Wish, meeting with the founders of the popular online game Roblox.
“I remember hearing about the immense happiness it brought him, and wanted to contribute to similar life-changing experiences for other children as well,” she said.
Patel also met babies and kids who had endured heart surgery and were aided by Mended Little Hearts, a nonprofit supporting the families of youngsters with heart defects.
“(This) allowed me to reflect on their immense strength and resilience, and I wanted to be a part of helping them on their journeys,” she said.
Patel learned many lessons in launching and managing her online company including applying for 501(c)(3) status, coordinating outreach programs with partner charities, keeping accounting records, and holding monthly meetings.
“The leadership abilities have been developed as running the nonprofit has given me the ability to connect with others, and I have been taught more about empathy for others,” she said. For more on Patel’s cards, visit www.handmadebysimran.com.