WEST WINDSOR: Girls get stuck on idea to raise money for charity

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
WEST WINDSOR — If you stick together, you’ll reach more people. That’s the motto of StickerGum, a family-run operation that was created to raise awareness about causes such as charity: water.
Just as its name suggests, StickerGum is a chewing gum. It is an all-natural chewing gum whose taste has been described as a cross between Juicy Fruit and Bazooka bubble gum. Each piece of gum is wrapped in wafer paper that has a custom-designed message printed on it, accompanied by a matching glossy sticker.
StickerGum actually started with 11-year-old Ruby Madia, who lives on Cranbury Road with her parents, Michael and Halle Madia, and her 9-year-old sister, Esme.
Ruby’s parents were looking for a way to teach Ruby and Esme about charity. That’s how Ms. Madia discovered charity: water, which raises money to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. It’s an easy and accessible topic that the girls could grasp, she said.
Intrigued by charity: water and its mission, Ruby and Esme began brainstorming how they could raise money to pay for a freshwater well through the nonprofit organization, Ms. Madia said.
“We both like stickers, and everybody likes gum,” Esme said.
The idea stuck.
Ms. Madia searched for a gum supplier and found one that would ship it to them. The family decided to include a message on the sticker. The girls thought that putting the two together — stickers and gum — would be a “cool conversation starter” to raise awareness about the water crisis, she said.
Ruby asked her friends to donate money to charity: water for her birthday, instead of buying presents for her, Ms. Madia said. The gum and stickers were handed out as party favors and reinforced the message of charity: water. Her friends’ parents contributed to charity: water instead of buying birthday presents.
“StickerGum was such a hit that our family started handcrafting it as birthday party favors for other children who were passionately championing their own causes,” Ms. Madia said.
The idea caught on, and the Madia family expanded to make custom stickers for whatever a customer would want — a hostess gift or a party favor. The minimum order is 20 pieces.
For an equestrian camp in New York State, StickerGum made stickers with photographs of the campers’ horses to include with the gum. Each girl received a pack of gum that featured her horse, Ruby said.
There have been repeat customers, Ms. Madia said. It’s all word of mouth. Nonprofit groups order from StickerGum and use it as a promotion for their cause. The family likes working with nonprofit groups because it reinforces to Ruby and Esme just how lucky they are.
“We are doing our part to get the word out. A charity needs a give-away. The children get gum and a sticker with facts about the charity, or just the logo. It’s like an edible business card,” Mr. Madia said.
Mr. Madia said he hopes that his daughters have learned that “you can think up something as crazy as it sounds, and do it. We said ‘stickers’ and ‘gum’ one day, and now here we are, like a real company that has sold thousands and thousands of pieces.”
“How many times do you hear, ‘That’s a great idea.’ We actually did it,” he said.
“Our mantra is ‘stick together and you can reach more people.’ We feel when you stick together, your voice is heard. We want the girls to be engaged in the community, have a voice and know they can contribute,” Mr. Madia said.
For more information about StickerGum, visit www.stickergum.com. 