Ever wonder what it would be like to found and run both a business
and a non-profit organization while studying at one of the top business schools in the country? Well then, get ready to meet and read all about Dalit Merenfeld. Dalit is an insanely talented and inspirational young woman who loves singing, art, community service, and making the world a better place. She studies at Indiana University and finds time to run both DalitaShoes and Singing For Smiles.
Now that is impressive! Be sure check out Singing For Smiles on Facebook and @Dalitashoes on Instagram.
What exactly is Singing For Smiles?
Singing for Smiles is a student-run, nonprofit organization. Our goal is to bring smiles to the faces and lift the spirits of the elderly and those most in need within our community. By combining our musical talents with community service, we are encouraging the growth of our members within the community and as individuals.
Our volunteer musicians share concerts, bedside performances, and other interactive programs each week at hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and treatment centers – a consistent source of joy and inspiration to patients, their families, and facility staff.
What inspired you to found Singing For Smiles?
I began volunteering in assisted living residences in the first place, because I felt as if the residents were being underrepresented/neglected in a way within the community, and, in fact, within society nowadays. Because of the somewhat high-maintenance these amazing people require, they tend to be pushed aside by today’s fast-paced environment. After a long, beautiful life, the entertainment schedules within assisted living residences are not fitting, nor what the residents deserve. Having children interact with the residents in these homes enables a path for a change in the way the elderly are treated within society, as well as bringing entertainment and a “spark” to the daily schedule of the residents.
Where do you have Singing For Smiles chapters?
Currently, we have a chapter in Miami and are working with students in Boca Raton, Florida, Los Angeles, and the University of Florida to open more chapters and expand our impact.
How old were you when you started Singing For Smiles?
At the age of 11, I began volunteering in nearby assisted living residences. I quickly realized the power of music in regards to therapy and entertainment and would sing to the residents every day on the job. My parents and I felt that if I found a structure to what I was doing it could become very successful and make a huge impact on the community. 3 years later, with both my best friend and my duet partner, I officially began Singing For Smiles.
What exactly is Dalitashoes?
Dalitashoes is basically a vehicle that enables you to take any white canvas shoe, personalize it and create your own wearable story. I can paint any picture or design on the shoes — you can get whatever you want. Basically, Dalitashoes helps you design your own apparel. In a world where trends are so powerful and following the status quo feels so necessary, Dalitashoes helps you step out and stand out.
When did you start designing shoes?
I started designing shoes when I was going into 12th grade.
When did you develop your love of art?
My whole brain is made of art and creativity. Even the way I think about business is artistic. To facilitate a transaction between idea and the real world is artistic. I took a few art classes when I was younger. My grandma is a professional artist, my grandpa, mom and dad are architects, while my mom is also a jewelry designer, and most of my other family members followed an artistic route as well. Art runs in my blood.
What is your favorite part about running Dalitashoes?
I love being able to help my customers’ artistic ideas come to life. My customers tell me what they want on their shoes and I am able to make their own ideas come to life. It is pretty amazing. I am helping exercise their imagination. I love that my customers get so excited when they receive their shoes and I enjoy sending my customers pictures during the process and receiving their feedback.
What is the hardest part about running Dalitashoes?
Since I do most of my marketing on Instagram, I have a very large young audience and the majority of my customers are young. It is difficult to keep up with deadlines and limits, to cater to everyone’s needs, and to say that I will have the shoes done by a certain time — especially because a chunk of my audience are pre-teens and are making their first online purchase with me. I try not to give timelines of when the shoes will be finished, rather I ask, ‘When do you need them by?’ Sometimes I am super rushed. I spend a lot of time making each shoe. It is hard to manage my time, but I always get the shoes done with time to spare.
What is it like to run a business while in college?
It’s pretty crazy because I have a lot going on. On top of Dalitashoes, I run Singing for Smiles, which consumes a lot of my time. Also, it is very difficult to be in Indiana, not Miami, because Dalitashoes and Singing For Smiles are based in Miami. However, to make it easier, I have two amazing people helping me out, my grandma, Dora Abbo, and my friend who is currently in art school. My grandma helps me paint when I don’t have time — mostly during the school year while I’m studying, and my friend, Daniel Bitton, has done two special orders — as he is an aspiring artist and is incredibly talented.
Where do you go to school and what are you studying?
I go to Indiana University and I majoring in marketing through the Kelley School of Business and minoring in music with a concentration in vocal performance through the Jacobs School of Music.
What do you want to do after you graduate from IU?
Coming into college I was not sure what I would major in. I was deciding between vocal performance and marketing and I decided that I needed to major in something that would help build a foundation which I can grow from. Business encompasses everything, you know. The world runs on business. Therefore, I decided to major in marketing and minor in music with a concentration in vocal performance. I love to learn and am fascinated by psychology. I would love to get my masters in psychology after I graduate from IU. After getting my masters in psychology, I definitely want to work in the entertainment industry. My dream is to work for an entertainment corporation such as Marvel, Lionsgate, Pixar, Dreamworks, etc., but I am open to working for the music industry, as well, and I’ve always wanted to work for a non-profit organization. I really want to, and I will make Singing For Smiles a national organization. However, as you can tell, I am not 100 percent sure what I want to do.
Describe yourself in one word.
How would your best friends describe you?
I actually asked three of my best friends for this answer and I got:
Well-rounded, kind, driven, inspiring, strong, adaptable, generous, creative, energetic, positive
What is your favorite thing to eat?
What is your favorite television show?
At the moment, “New Girl,” but I love “Chef’s Table,” “House,” “Modern Family” and the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”