By Susan Murphy
Rope4Hope LLC was started in December 2011 by local Port Monmouth residents Kelly Mullins and Marco Fernandes, who met as recruits in the police Training Academy. They have known each other seven years and are now Corrections Officers for the State of New Jersey. Their business consists of making handmade Paracord Bracelets for all types of events.
What is paracord? It is short for “parachute cord” originally used by military paratroopers during World War II. Paracord is still used by the military for multiple reasons. It has a strength rating of 550 lbs. and comes in a variety of colors. Fernandes, a former Marine, recalls braiding the rope needed for training exercises while in the field. “We did this as a way to take several hundred feet of rope into the field, because it was more compact, fit into a small bag, and it was easier to deploy if needed when it was braided into a cobra knot,” he said.
Rope4Hope, LLC became the business name. Fernandes explained, because it represents exactly what they were doing. “We were using rope to make the bracelets but also for helping people, which is our main focus. Helping others is what gave us the drive to keep going with the bracelets.” Mullins and Fernandes custom make by hand Paracord Bracelets for all occasions and different events which include but are not limited to fundraisers, team sports, support for causes, gifts, and to show school spirit. Each bracelet has anywhere from 7-10 feet of rope. There are a variety of sizes and colors and you can mix and match up to 3 colors per bracelet with no minimum or maximum order requirements.
“We usually design a bracelet specifically for a particular organization and then on our website it is highlighted as the “Bracelet of the Month.” There is a separate ordering box for them so the donation goes directly to the organization without question as to the particular donation that is requested by the customer,” noted Mullins. Most bracelets take only minutes to make and it is requested that customers allow up to 5 days for turnaround, but that usual timeframe is much less. The cost for bracelets with up to three colors is $10. “Our bracelets are handmade locally by us, custom designed and custom fitted. On other sites and in magazines these bracelets sell for $12 to $15 or more,” said Fernandes.
The Bracelet of the Month for April and May is the Police Unity Tour Inspired Bracelet – which comes in two styles. Mullins explains “The Monmouth County Police Unity Tour Riders have their bike ride in May, so the bracelets will be available up to then. Each purchase of one of these bracelets sends a donation to the Monmouth County Police Unity Tour Riders, who are police officers, and the bike ride benefits the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. We hope to continue this fundraiser for them every year they are a part of it.”
The idea to make Paracord Bracelets started when Fernandes made a Blue Line bracelet for himself one day. He was asked by several people where he got it. When he mentioned that he had made it, others began to ask for one. “Kelly and I started making the bracelets and it just developed into something bigger.” Requests for the Paracord Bracelets increased and orders for them went beyond just making them for a few friends.
Fernandes explained how the Blue Line bracelets became a fundraiser. “Another Corrections Officer that I worked with, who is also a friend, was seriously injured in the line of duty and because of that he had to take a medical retirement.” This officer became involved with Officer Down NJ, an organization that benefits officers who have been permanently disabled in the line of duty or the families of police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, so Fernandes contacted him and asked if he and Mullins could make the Blue Line Bracelets for the organization as a fundraiser for them. “They are the most popular, probably because we are law enforcement officers,” said Fernandes. Blue Line Bracelets are made and purchased all year round and money continues to be donated to Officer Down NJ.
The Paracord Bracelets have been made to support victims of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma; as well as to show team spirit for Kean University students. “We have a fundraiser in April for the Monmouth County Police Unity Tour, in which we will set up a table at their Softball Tournament, as well as one in May called ‘Draw for a Cure’ which will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital,” said Fernandes.
Future plans for these entrepreneurs include discussing the advantages of using Paracord Bracelets as a fundraiser for schools rather than selling cookies or candy, which are gone in no time. Doing fundraisers using the bracelets means buyers have something to show for their purchase price. The bracelets can be made utilizing school colors or sports team colors. They can also be sold at school supply stores year-round as a fundraiser.
Fernandes and Mullins both emphasized that Rope4Hope was started with one purpose — “Helping Others One Bracelet at a Time.”