LIGHTWALKER® Belt, a Dog Walking and Safety Light, Announces Its New Charity Campaign

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Creators of the LIGHTWALKER® developed a plan to donate 5% of the retail price of each belt sold to US charity organizations chosen by their customers. This shows that even a small start-up business can make a contribution $1 at a time.

Sonia & dogs Derby, Bauer, Vago, Kato. Sandra with her dogs Lucy and Ricky Ricardo

We wish that we could send LIGHTWALKER® belts to all the hurricane survivors who are still without power, in the dark, trying to rebuild their lives.

When LIGHTWALKER® creators Sonia and Sandra Alvarado heard of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, their hearts went out to the victims. "We wish that we could send LIGHTWALKER® belts to all the survivors who are still without power, in the dark, trying to rebuild their lives." says Sonia. The problem is that they can’t afford to do that since the business is still small and the sisters have lived through a personal tragedy of their own for the last two years. As Alzheimer’s disease was taking their father’s life they chose to spend quality time with him instead of aggressively growing their business. Abraham Alvarado passed away a month ago and now they want to honor his memory by giving back. They devised a way to donate a portion of LIGHTWALKER® sales to the charity of the customer’s choosing.

After buying a LIGHTWALKER® from the online store customers can go to the LIGHTWALKER® Facebook page to post their order number and a link to their favorite charity’s donation page. Sonia Alvarado will personally donate $1 per belt.

The LIGHTWALKER® is the only belt worn around the waist with an 18 LED lamp that provides hands-free illumination for the user. The idea came about 2 years ago when Sonia Alvarado twisted her ankle while walking her four dogs one evening in Los Angeles. She had her hands full holding the dogs and without a flashlight, failed to see an obstruction on the sidewalk. Her desire to walk the dogs every day and the stress of facing the dangers that lurked in the dark motivated her to create the product that she desperately needed but couldn’t find. She enlisted the help of her sister Sandra Alvarado and opened the company Accessories LA with the first version of their LIGHTWALKER® launching in their online store in early 2011. From day one, there was a charity goal attached to the business venture. The sisters have rescued numerous dogs and cats over the years and vowed to donate a percentage of profits to animal rescue organizations.

The challenges and financial demands of starting a new business and introducing a unique product put the charity goal on hold. Sonia’s corporate video production company, Aces TV Inc. was suffering from the downturn of the economy and Sandra found herself looking for a job after her position as a Media Specialist with the 2010 US Census came to a close. The two were also spending precious time with their father whose Alzheimer’s disease was advancing rapidly. It was during this difficult time that the sisters started the company. They borrowed thousands from family and credit cards to develop the LIGHTWALKER® belt, apply for patents and a trademark, produce inventory and exhibit at local pet expos.

It was clear that getting the word out about their new product without an advertising budget was going to be a slow process and the “profits” from which the charity contributions would be allocated were years down the line. “We didn’t want to wait, so we started going to pet adoption events and giving LIGHTWALKERs to the volunteers.” recalls Sandra. They also donated belts to several non-profits for auctions and raffles. That was one way to start giving immediately instead of waiting for the “profitable” stage.

They knew early on that the LIGHTWALKER® was more than just a safety accessory for dog walking. They thought about how the belts could light the way for those participating in charity walks like Light the Night and the Avon Walk. They even added a pink belt in honor of breast cancer crusaders and awareness. Companies in Japan approached the sisters about distributing the belts as emergency preparedness items because of potential earthquakes. There was also a large company in England that wanted the belts as a safety accessory for its employees.

In late October 2012 Hurricane Sandy ravaged US cities. A month later many communities are still in the dark. The sisters thought about how these people need LIGHTWALKERs, but most importantly they need help. This is what inspired Sandra and Sonia to donate $1 from the purchase of each belt to various non-profit organizations including those leading the hurricane relief effort.

What's the status of the business today? The LIGHTWALKER® is sold exclusively from the online store. Finding distributors and possible licensing relationships are next on the agenda, right after the holidays. The belts have been featured in magazines, and moderndog magazine included the LIGHTWALKER® in one of their gift guides. LIGHTWALKER® fans are growing one belt at a time and the second year in business brought about repeat customers. There are LIGHTWALKER® owners in the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe.

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Sonia Alvarado
Accessories LA
(818) 937-3627
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