Business woman uses paracord to give back to nonprofits

Jamie Hernandez plaits a lanyard using paracord 550 at her usual work station—the dining room table. A business owner who volunteers regularly at her son’s school, Hernandeze donates 40 percent of her profits to nonprofit organizations such as the Fallen

A local business woman found an innovative way to repurpose an accessory now used by many people and to give back to nonprofit organizations at the same time.

Lanyards – thin pieces of cord usually found draped around the necks of students and attached to their school IDs – are  common sights on school and business campuses around the world. An easy way to keep ID cards from being lost, they serve a simple purpose.

Gilroy resident Jamie Hernandez had the idea to put them to another good use by creating a lanyard that can serve as a safety tool in emergency situations. In return, the lanyards helped Hernandez in her own time of need when she was recovering from a debilitating illness.

“I get migraines and I became paralyzed,” she said. “I was in a wheelchair for two and a half years. Then I got better and I wanted to do something that kept me busy.”

Hernandez, who is originally from Morgan Hill, taught herself how to knot and tie paracord to create colorful lanyards, key chains, jewelry and other accessories.

Paracord – or parachute cord – is a thin rope made of nylon or polyester most commonly used as suspension lines for parachutes, according to www.paracordplanet.com. For each lanyard, Hernandez uses about 30 feet of paracord 550, which can hold up to 550 pounds. The cord never mildews, according to Hernandez.

As a former athlete, she knew the safety value of the lanyards.

I did a lot of rock climbing before, but then I got sick,” Hernandez said. “A few years ago in 2007 I broke my hand, so I feel fortunate to be able to do this.”

Starting as a hobby, Hernandez’ lanyard creations eventually became a business when her daughter, Jasmine Yanez, was on the Gilroy High School wrestling team. The school lost its funding for buses, Hernandez said, so she sold her lanyards at the Mid-California Wrestling Championship Tournament to raise funds for team transportation. She also made all the first place lanyards for each of the 14 weight classes in the two-day tournament.

“It’s rewarding because if (the wrestlers) win first place, they get the lanyard and I’ve seen them around town,” Hernandez said. “We put a dog tag on it with their (place) and their class. To see the kids still wearing it, and using it and coming back for more is good.”

Hernandez’ new business endeavor, InkBlossom Designs, became a big hit when her daughter left home to pursue her business management degree at Menlo College in Atherton. Yanez took the paracord lanyards to sell to fellow students. By then, Hernandez had added another safety feature: whistles to use to attract attention in case of emergency.

The rest of her family also became involved in the business. Hernandez’ son, Solar, helps his mom by measuring and cutting the paracord before she begins knotting the cords for lanyards. And her husband, Steven Hernandez, is charge of sales and marketing.

“My husband is my biggest cheerleader,” she said.  “He saw something I like to do and I’ve made it my own.”

As her business grows, Hernandez continues to donate 40 percent of her profits to community organizations. To date, InkBlossom Designs has donated a total of more than $3,000 to the Fallen Hero Memorial Scholarship Fund, South Valley Middle School wrestling and cross-country teams, Santa Clara Valley Wrestling Association, Los Gatos Rugby Club, Pop Warner football leagues and Christopher High School sports.

“If I can help bring a smile to someone’s face and help an organization, that’s the best thing for me to do,” she said.

But Hernandez’ community outreach doesn’t end with InkBlossom Designs. She also volunteers as an assistant coach at South Valley Middle School and created the school’s annual Sumo Feast Fundraiser with dinner, live music and inflatable sumo suits for wrestling.

Her contributions are greatly appreciated by the South Valley Middle School staff.

“Ms. Hernandez is always around to lend a hand and is a valuable team player,” Athletic Director Jami Reynolds said.

A handy way to keep track of those important items, lanyards serve a simple purpose..

But Gilroy resident Jamie Hernandez cm to put them to another good use by creating a lanyard that can serve as a safety tool in emergency situations. In return, the lanyards helped Hernandez in her own time of need when she was recovering from a debilitating illness.

“I get migraines and I became paralyzed,” she said. “I was in a wheelchair for two and a half years. Then I got better and I wanted to do something that kept me busy.”

Hernandez, who is originally from Morgan Hill, taught herself how to knot and tie paracord to create colorful lanyards, key chains, jewelry and other accessories.

Paracord – or parachute cord – is a thin rope made of nylon or polyester most commonly used as suspension lines for parachutes, according to www.paracordplanet.com. For each lanyard, Hernandez uses about 30 feet of paracord 550, which can hold up to 550 pounds. The cord never mildews, according to Hernandez.

As a former athlete, she knew the safety value of the lanyards.

I did a lot of rock climbing before, but then I got sick,” Hernandez said. “A few years ago in 2007 I broke my hand, so I feel fortunate to be able to do this.”

Starting as a hobby, Hernandez’ lanyard creations eventually became a business when her daughter, Jasmine Yanez, was on the Gilroy High School wrestling team. The school lost its funding for buses, Hernandez said, so she sold her lanyards at the Mid-California Wrestling Championship Tournament to raise funds for team transportation. She also made all the first place lanyards for each of the 14 weight classes in the two-day tournament.

“It’s rewarding because if (the wrestlers) win first place, they get the lanyard and I’ve seen them around town,” Hernandez said. “We put a dog tag on it with their (place) and their class. To see the kids still wearing it, and using it and coming back for more is good.”

Hernandez’ new business endeavor, InkBlossom Designs, became a big hit when her daughter left home to pursue her business management degree at Menlo College in Atherton. Yanez took the paracord lanyards to sell to fellow students. By then, Hernandez had added another safety feature: whistles to use to attract attention in case of emergency.

The rest of her family also became involved in the business. Hernandez’ son, Solar, helps his mom by measuring and cutting the paracord before she begins knotting the cords for lanyards. And her husband, Steven Hernandez, is charge of sales and marketing.

“My husband is my biggest cheerleader,” she said.  “He saw something I like to do and I’ve made it my own.”

As her business grows, Hernandez continues to donate 40 percent of her profits to community organizations. To date, InkBlossom Designs has donated a total of more than $3,000 to the Fallen Hero Memorial Scholarship Fund, South Valley Middle School wrestling and cross-country teams, Santa Clara Valley Wrestling Association, Los Gatos Rugby Club, Pop Warner football leagues and Christopher High School sports.

“If I can help bring a smile to someone’s face and help an organization, that’s the best thing for me to do,” she said.

But Hernandez’ community outreach doesn’t end with InkBlossom Designs. She also volunteers as an assistant coach at South Valley Middle School and created the school’s annual Sumo Feast Fundraiser with dinner, live music and inflatable sumo suits for wrestling.

Her contributions are greatly appreciated by the South Valley Middle School staff.

“Ms. Hernandez is always around to lend a hand and is a valuable team player,” Athletic Director Jami Reynolds said.

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