She takes out her phone and clicks on the app called the “Guardian Locket.” A question pops up, “Are you in danger?” She clicks “yes” and she is taken to a list of her contacts, ICE contacts, and the authorities. She clicks again, and within a second, a text message will be sent to whomever she picks in her contacts to let them know she is in danger.
Her name is Crystal Sanchez and she is a first year business economics major and the CEO of the Guardian Locket, a company that is creating safety alerting devices in the shape of locket necklaces to change the protection system of sexual assault cases in America.
The name derives from “A combination of a Guardian Angel and the locket because it’s close to your heart” Sanchez says.
The idea of the Guardian Locket was formulated in Sanchez’s senior year at Environmental Charter School in Lawndale, when she was completing her senior thesis on sexual assault on women. Sanchez combined her thesis topic with her economics class project, which was to create a business, by presenting the idea of an alerting device.
She states, “I knew what need I wanted to fulfill in society, so with that I combined the idea of wearable technology because it’s really big right now and I turned it into the Guardian Locket.”
She thought of using jewelry for her creation because of her personal experience with facing uncomfortable situations.
“Whenever I was nervous or I couldn’t think of an answer, I’d reach up and play with whatever’s at my neck,” says Sanchez. “And I’ve noticed that that’s actually what a lot of people do.”
A necklace became the ideal design because activating the device can be discrete and quick when faced with a potential predator.
The locket has a button in its back, and users can press it a certain number of times depending on what the situation calls for. One click will send a false phone call to the user’s phone, in order to trick predators into thinking that the user is in contact with someone. Two clicks will allow the user to send three text messages to the user’s chosen ICE contacts saying the person is in danger with the location, a picture of the user’s face, and the user’s location.
Sanchez’s motivation to create this safeguard was both through learning in research and from personally having loved ones become victims to sexual assault. Her mother was almost a victim, and her close friend was raped in her first year of college. Sanchez explained that learning of her friend’s rape was heartbreaking because she noticed that something was wrong after the incident.
“Having two really close people to me almost or become victims of sexual assault, it makes you think differently,” said Lee. “It makes you think maybe there’s something I can do to protect other people to not go through this.”
Since going into the Academy of Business Leadership (ABL) in 2013, Sanchez realized that business can be more than aspirations, and can become a career path. During her program at ABL, she learned about forming a business, stating, “We went into groups and we made a business through that and there I started opening my eyes to what business can lead to and how many people I can help.”
Her long term goal is to help out society. “That’s what I love doing. I think if I can make a business or if I can start something that can help people and would also make a living from, that’s just the ideal situation,” she declares.
Sanchez was part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) at her high school because the organization’s curriculum was part of their economics class, automatically placing her in a NFTE course. With her creation, she entered the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Regional Youth Challenge, and recently won the nationals with a $25,000 prize to help expand her company. Sanchez plans on developing a variety of products, such as statement necklaces, chunky bracelets, and watches for men.
NFTE has also been helping Sanchez with the process by pairing her with mentors, which allowed her to meet Armaan Ismail, who is the CTO of the Guardian Locket. With Sanchez’s idea and Armaan’s app that will link the Guardian Locket to the user’s cell phone, the two are currently working on a prototype app that is in beta mode.
The company plans on officially launching in the second quarter of 2016. Sanchez also plans on personally designing the lockets. She explained that the company will also support victims of sexual assault by giving $5 to Peace Over Violence and Take Back the Night, two non-profit anti-abuse organizations, for every locket purchased. Through UCI, she is also planning on working with the CARE on campus to work closely with Take Back the Night.
For Sanchez, her goals to help stop sexual assault comes at personal cost. She must juggle both a company and being a full time student on campus. She admits that there have been many sleepless nights, but is resolved in her desire to change the cycle of sexual assault rates.
She states, “If that’s the price I have to pay in order to help people, I’ll pay it. I see this as more of an opportunity to spread the word of sexual assault and gender inequality.”
Sanchez closes her app, which is still in its testing phase. She has a study group to go to later tonight, and fresh into her third week of college, she’s getting used to running a business and being a student at the same time.