Philanthropist & Fashion Expert Sharifa Murdock On Paying It Forward

By Gabrielle Pharms | November 18, 2021

For entrepreneur, fashion expert, and philanthropist Sharifa Murdock, giving back to the community is inherent. With over 20 years of fashion and live event expertise, Murdock uses her acquired knowledge and benevolence to help the next generation of young aspiring creatives. She says, “I know what motivates me. I'm a young girl from Brooklyn, born and raised. Someone gave me an opportunity years ago, and I vowed to myself – just looking at the industry that I came up in and seeing how companies move – that I will try to pay it forward to any young girl or guy coming up. So, I will try to help as much as I can.”

As Chief of People and Culture of fashion label Kith, Murdock spearheads the brand’s diversity and social impact initiatives, including establishing The Kin Foundation. The forthcoming initiative leverages Kith’s ubiquitous presence in the service of underprivileged youth. Sam Ben-Avraham is Murdock’s mentor and joint business partner with the owner of Kith, Ronnie Fieg. Ben-Avraham knew part of Murdock’s passion was philanthropy. Furthermore, Murdock mentions that Fieg has always been an advocate of giving back within the communities where Kith stores are located. So, as the company continues to grow, Fieg specifically wanted someone to focus on the community aspect while maintaining relevance in the market – and he found that in Murdock.

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Leading to the launch of The Kin Foundation, Kith has been involved in a series of kids’ community activations and collaborative fashion capsules that assist charities. Fieg has the vision of tying in capsules with philanthropic efforts. One example of this was the release of the Notorious B.I.G capsule in March 2021. This collection gave the Kith team the opportunity to work with Biggie’s children and give back to the areas in Brooklyn where Biggie grew up. Murdock selected six schools to donate computers, books, and supplies. “What was so important about that was that we got to sit down with the teachers and principals. Instead of us just going out and buying these things thinking that's what they need, we got the opportunity to really hear from the principals in the schools and understand what they are missing and how we can help,” Murdock says. Kith remains connected to the schools so they can partner together on future projects.

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Then, in July 2021, Kith unveiled the Mandela collection to the world. The Mandela family contacted the Kith team directly to collaborate on a capsule. “The mere fact that the Mandela family knew about Kith was a big deal. We wanted to do what they wanted. Mandela's family was really adamant about thinking about the future, not the past. They don't want everyone to know Mandela for the struggle. It’s about the future and what he was looking towards and what his family was looking towards, which I respected fully,” Murdock states.

Mandela was a beacon of hope and change with guiding principles to impact education, food disparity, and incarceration. So, Murdock picked charities that aligned with those specific passion points. For instance, Kith partnered with #HashtagLunchbag and made lunches for over 300 homeless or displaced people. The company also gave classes to the students at Black Girls CODE on building websites. “It was just so exciting to see how young people took to that and how much you can influence young people on giving them access to something that they probably never even thought about,” Murdock adds. “It’s like, ‘Me building my own website for my own business?’ And for us, that was so enlightening. So, things like that we'll be moving forward with right now.”

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Going into 2022, Murdock plans to focus on her personal life while appreciating her goals towards philanthropic projects. She says, “What's so great about being at Kith is that we're global. So, I'm not going to be able just to touch lives in New York. I'm touching lives in Paris. I'm going to be able to touch lives in Hawaii. So, it’s not just about a U.S. situation; we’re more global. So, my one goal is to impact as many people's lives as possible.”

Furthermore, Murdock’s mantra is “set your tone.” She admonishes aspiring creatives to avoid the mindset that nothing is attainable. “It's all about coming into your space and understanding who you are as an individual and setting your tone on what you're willing to accept and what you're not willing to accept. Don’t limit yourself,” Murdock states. “We aren't just one thing as women of color. We are an array of different things. We can do sports. We can do media. We can do fashion. I am a proud Black woman. We can do whatever it is we put our minds to.”

Photography by: Daniel D’Ottavio