Like design, a pinky swear promise is all about forming a deep connection between people. Capsule's partnership with the Pinky Swear Foundation is helping fulfill a meaningful promise for an important cause: helping kids with cancer and their families. Working with this foundation is an honor for us here at Capsule, as we are reminded of the impact that our work can have for those in need.
We sat down with our designer, Emma Rotilie to learn more about her work with this wonderful organization.
1. So Emma, what can you tell us about Pinky Swear?
Pinky Swear is a wonderful organization with a uniquely moving origin story. When Mitch Chepokas was battling terminal bone cancer in 2002, he decided to give the $6,000 he had in his savings account to the other families on his hospital floor. He noticed that they were struggling financially, and also knew that he wouldn’t be needing it. He left each of them an orange envelope, careful not to draw attention to himself or be noticed. He felt so good doing this for these families, that he made his dad pinky swear promise that he would do it again next year (knowing that he wouldn’t be around to do it himself). Sure enough, Mitch passed away in April of 2003, and from that promise and that act of generosity, the Pinky Swear Foundation was born. That story really gets me every time. Ever since, Pinky Swear has dedicated itself to providing emotional and financial support to families that have kids with cancer, and they make a real difference for families each year.
2. What was Pinky Swear looking to accomplish when they originally came to Capsule?
When Pinky Swear first came to us, they had managed to secure a spot in one of Mall of America’s Pavilions in the weeks leading up to the holidays. It was an exciting opportunity for them to capture the attention of a larger audience and raise awareness about the organization, but they needed some help coming up with an effective and captivating display. The deadline was tight, but in the end we managed to help them make a meaningful impression. They partnered with friends at Love your Melon and Choo Choo Bobs, engaging passersby with special pinky swear hats and elaborate train displays. The event took on the name “Pinky Swear Nation”, highlighting the broader audience they hoped to reach. I was honored to be able to contribute some illustration work for the project, combining the hats, trains, and Pinky Swear iconography into a childlike illustration. This initial illustration would go on to establish the look and feel we would later apply to social media campaigns, event collateral, and their annual report.
3. What are the biggest challenges you encounter in this work?
The primary challenges working with Pinky Swear center on efficiency. There is a lot that goes into finding the best to way to engage their audiences, and the best ways to stay top of mind for those that can support the foundation. This often means taking advantage of an opportunity on social media in a way the organization has never done before, or often finding a new way to structure their print collateral to be more impactful and tell their story more effectively. The challenge is always in finding a better way to engage and raise awareness.
4. What was it like to go to the Pinky Swear Gala this year, and see your work come to life?
This year was my third year at the Pinky Swear Gala, and while a bit of an outlier, considering the record-breaking snow storm we had that night. Despite this hiccup, it was as moving and lovely as ever. Each year I am brought to tears by the stories of families who have struggled with the devastation of a cancer diagnosis that year. The event leaves me feeling proud and grateful to work with Pinky Swear.