"It just broke my heart to see what was happening," Rose tells PEOPLE

By Adam Carlson
October 24, 2019 10:20 AM

A lot of things are at least a little bit of a joke to Southern Charm‘s Shep Rose. This includes his apparel line, Shep Gear, which features — along with Americana and Southern-themed clothes — tongue-in-cheek references to the show and his cast mates such as a “Craig Is My Lawyer” T-shirt and a “Tan Fat = Muscle” tank.

But there’s a serious side to what he’s selling, too.

After the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian in August, Rose, 40, began selling a limited-release Shep Gear hat with the Bahamas flags. One-hundred percent of the proceeds were donated to storm relief.

“It just broke my heart to see what was happening,” he tells PEOPLE.

“I made these hats with the Bahamas’ flag on them and was like, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ he says. “And I raised $25,000.”

Even though it’s a relatively small amount toward the extensive damage done, Rose says he was “very proud” to raise the money for “such an amazing place.” (Friend and fellow cast member Craig Conover had invited him down to his apartment on the Abacos in the past, and donated all proceeds from a $58 Bahamas-inspired lobster pillow from his line, Sewing Down South, to the cause as well.)

“It is gone. It’s insane, and it was such a special place. Is a special place,” Rose says. “All these little islands and restaurants and bars, and everybody has a boat and then jumps over and everybody knows each other. It’s just so beautiful.”

“We’re very happy to be able to help,” he says.

Shep Rose
Shep Rose
| Credit: ShepGear/Instagram

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In a way, it’s also been a distraction — and a reminder of life’s real challengers — after the most recent Southern Charm season, which finished in late August and saw Shep in his share of conflicts.

Five years after launching Shep Gear — inspired by something as simple as an American flag hat he wore around Charleston, South Carolina — he stays busy with the line, including a recent stop at the Atlanta Apparel show, explaining: “It appeals to the creative side in me.”

He also says he considering writing a book (a collection of essays) and teases some TV ideas. And then, of course, there’s next season of Southern Charm. Bumps or no, he’ll be back.

“Sometimes I can get down on myself, but I think I’m happy,” he says, “and if I can help people, that’s awesome.”