The Caraa Cares Initiative
Aaron Luo ’04 is the CEO and co-founder of Caraa, a New York-based handbag company that specializes in functional fashion. He and Caraa’s co-founder and creative director, Carmen Chen Wu, are both Chinese-born immigrants who were raised in Spain, and eventually moved to New York City, where they fell in love with the city’s unique hustle and bustle. They both noticed one thing missing in their mutual pursuit of navigating the concrete jungle—a fashionable but functional bag. Combining their talents in creative design and their knowledge of the global supply chain, the two set out to produce the perfect bag. This led to the creation of their company Caraa. Using a design process based on customer feedback and community suggestions, their pursuit of the perfect bag quickly evolved into the creation of many. From backpacks to purses to diaper bags, there is now a fashionable New York City-ready alternative available for everyone.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact the United States in March, we knew we needed to pivot and do our part to help flatten the curve and get masks into the hands of as many people as possible.—Aaron Luo '04
However, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, New York State was hit the hardest, particularly New York City. In response, Caraa created the Caraa Cares initiative. “When the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact the United States in March, we knew we needed to pivot and do our part to help flatten the curve and get masks into the hands of as many people as possible,” Luo explains. “We quickly invested in converting a portion of our factory to making reusable masks, available not only for purchase, but also—through matched donations—to front-line responders, schools, foster homes, and homeless shelters.”
Following their personal design philosophy, they aim to create masks that are comfortable and high quality while remaining effective and affordable. So, with every mask purchased, Caraa matches the price with a donation in order to help front-line and essential workers. They’ve also donated over 50,000 masks (as of August 27, 2020).
Heading into the winter months, Caraa debuted a new line of warmer, thicker masks with wider ear elastics and an embedded nose wire for added comfort in colder temperatures. These sales continue to be matched with donations as relief workers continue to fight the pandemic.
“As a luxury fashion brand, and more importantly, as citizens of the country and the world, we feel that we have a duty to contribute to the fight against COVID-19,” says Luo. “We’re happy that we can do this by leveraging our expertise in luxury fashion and product design to share masks with those in need.”