When Sophia Shock first started her nonprofit, she knew she’d need some guidance to make it the best it could be.
Her journey began when her uncle Andy suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke in May of 2020. In an effort to help fundraise for his care, Sophia sold handmade, reversible pet bandanas and made a TikTok which featured her uncle Andy’s story. The viral post—which included a link to her online store—resulted in hundreds of orders almost overnight, as well as an outpouring of support from those impacted by the complications of stroke.
Sophia saw her opportunity to make a difference in Andy’s life and the lives of others through these unexpected circumstances. So she started Alex and Andy, a nonprofit pet apparel store with a mission to provide stroke survivors and their families with a community of hope, love, and acceptance.
“Our nonprofit journey is unique in the fact that it wasn’t actually planned,” Sophia said. “After my video went viral on the platform, I instantly knew that my original fundraising idea for my Uncle could turn into something so much more.”
Sophia had never run a small business and did not have a background in nonprofit leadership, so she decided to seek professional help. She reached out to Charitable Allies to help her structure her organization legally and receive ongoing consulting on how to run a successful nonprofit.
She was matched with Brenda Freije, an attorney with Charitable Allies and consultant with Allies 4 Good, who guided her through the process.
“Since the establishment of my nonprofit happened so quickly, I carried a lot of stress not knowing what exactly to do moving forward,” Sophia said. “She listened to my story, explained things very easily and clearly, and was there to guide me along the newfound creation of my nonprofit.”
Today, Alex and Andy (named after Uncle Andy and his beloved dog, Alex) has sold over 7,000 bandanas in over 15 countries, and their organization continues to donate a portion of their proceeds to support stroke survivors. Alex and Andy is also providing Uncle Andy with a new sense of purpose, as his participation in designing the products and packaging the orders is part of his motor skills therapy.
Sophia finds it rewarding to know their work and story is helping people across the world.
“Honestly, I don’t know what I would’ve done without Charitable Allies,” Sophia said. “I was so lost and overwhelmed prior to learning from my attorney, and now I know I made the right decision. The overall experience has been great, and I look forward to continuing the training with my attorney to ensure I am providing as much knowledge as I can to my organization.”You can learn more about Alex and Andy on Sophia’s TikTok, where they raise awareness about stroke, make fun videos about the packaging process, and follow Uncle Andy’s journey.