These Jewelry Brand Owners Hope to Go Out of Business
Quinn Fitzgerald and Sara de Zarraga wanted to make a product to help women live their lives with confidence and control. As sexual assault survivors, they knew that the ability to move freely through the world relied first and foremost on women feeling safe. With that in mind, they founded Flare in 2016, after bonding at Harvard Business School over their shared mission of using business to do good. The line of personal security jewelry gives wearers the power to discreetly alert designated contacts, connect with law enforcement, or send themselves an incoming call as an exit excuse in potentially unsafe situations with the click of a button.
Flare currently offers two styles of bracelets (beaded or metal, each $129) with a number of customizations. The cuff is available in silver, gold, and rose gold and in an array of designs, including a constellation-inspired pattern, gloss, satin, or a worn look. No matter the style, every bracelet comes with a hidden button on the underside that connects with the Get Flare iOS app, which allows wearers to trigger a fake phone call, text friends, send their GPS location, or contact police — all without touching their phone.
"People comment sometimes and are like, "Why does this have to be cute? 'Cause women have to look good?' you know, pointing out that double standard," says Fitzgerald. "And we're like, no: This is 'in' jewelry, and it looks good because that's safer, so that you can be discreet."
Since its debut, Flare has been named one of TIME's Best Inventions of 2020 and has become popular with consumers, with sales growing over 55 times in the past year. The co-founders talked about their goals for the jewelry line as part of InStyle's August Badass 50 and explained why their endgame is to render their own product obsolete.
"We readily admit that our mission is to put ourselves out of business and create a world where products like ours aren't needed," says Fitzgerald. "As survivors ourselves, we hate that we're here. We hate that we have to hide technology in jewelry for our safety, we don't believe that that world needs to exist. We are fighting ultimately to create a culture where everyone can feel safe."
A major step forward in building that world is redefining the way we look at safety, according to de Zarraga.
"[We want] to lead a movement in personal security and to help share the way that we see safety," de Zarraga says. "It's not just about being physically safe in the most dire situations, it's also about feeling safe, and all the microaggressions and smaller signals that we get where we often feel stuck. You feel like there's not much that you can do, and you feel a little out of control. [We aim] to take that power back, to take that agency back, and [to lead] a movement of people sharing their experiences about that so that we can broaden the definition of what safety really is."
Another crucial element in their journey has been learning women's thoughts on personal security from polls and examining Flare's user feedback. A 2019 survey of 1,000 women ages 18-25 found that of the times they felt pressured to go along with situations where someone was crossing a personal boundary, 59% of respondents felt they didn't want to make a scene or overreact. The need for subtlety during these uncomfortable and sometimes unpredictable moments underscores the reason for the jewelry's fashionable design.
According to a 2021 Flare survey, users of the jewelry wear their Flares on average more than 3.5 days a week and represent a wide range of backgrounds and professions, the most common being students, who made up 18% of respondents. The same survey also indicated that respondents felt most anxious about their safety when stuck in awkward or unwanted conversations and when taking walks alone or with their dog.
Fitzgerald and de Zarraga also collected information on the ages of Flare's customers, and found that while people under the age of 20 account for only 6% of sales, they represent one of the highest portions of Flare users. To wit: 38% of customers bought a Flare bracelet for someone else — perhaps, in many cases, a back-to-school accessory to accompany young women heading off to college.
For both cofounders, seeing the numbers and hearing testimonies from customers about the value of Flare in their everyday lives is enough motivation to push the team forward, at least until the day when their product is no longer necessary.
"We've helped thousands and thousands of women stay safe," says de Zarraga. "They have backup if they need it. It's terrible to feel like you're worried about the situation that you're in, you're worried about where it's going to go, or you're worried about things that have happened to you in your past and you're bringing that trauma with you into life. It means you're not showing up as your full self. That's really what drives us and that's the most fulfilling thing."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).