Ohio University students created an impact in India and Athens, while winning prize money, by submitting their T-shirt designs to the Sudara Tee Design Challenge as part of the fall 2020 Women Entrepreneurship Week.
Sudara Inc. employs Indian women who are at risk or survivors of human trafficking. The women are paid a sustainable, living wage to produce and sell ethically made pajamas and loungewear. Sudara, a benefit corporation, and its nonprofit, Sudara Freedom Fund, were created to end human trafficking in India.
“This collaboration drives impact both globally and locally which is what makes it so powerful,” Sudara founder Shannon Keith said. “Revenue generated from student designed tees creates more skills training and job opportunities for women in India working to remain free from sex slavery, while student designers gain real-world experience and have their voices lifted in the social impact work space.”
Fifteen percent of the money generated from the sales of the design challenge tee shirts was donated to My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence agency based in Athens that provides support to women in Athens, Hocking and Vinton counties.
My Sister’s Place Executive Director Kelly Cooke said the donations will give the shelter more flexibility in helping survivors who call its hotline. “We are doing our best to keep numbers down in the shelter, and we are using emergency funds to problem solve with callers who need help,” Cooke said.
In the beginning of October, Sudara Tee Design Challenge finalists were selected through two rounds of voting on social media. The three winning designs were available for pre-order on Oct. 16. Paige Burger received $500 because her design – “Elephants Galore” – sold the most. Candace Clark won $250 for her design – “Say Something.” Finally, Sarah Baker won $100 for “One for Equality.”
Tees are still available from Sudara. Purchases of student-designed tees and matching flannel pants continue to support the effort. A 20% discount on purchases is available using code OhioGivesBack, or choose to “donate the discount” back to My Sister’s Place.
“Most of us are scrambling to get our tasks done in this pandemic, but these students made an extra effort because they wanted to have an impact,” said Paul Benedict, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “Their hard work is incredibly inspiring to me.”
Burger, a senior studying graphic design whose design was selected, said she is happy to see the utilization of visual communication for a good cause rather than just for generating sales.
“The ability to use design as a tool not only for awareness but also as an action is something I will be pursuing to achieve for the rest of my career,” Burger said.
Another student, Clark, a junior studying fashion product development and retail merchandising, said the competition motivated her to open her own boutique.
“I wanted to support a cause that I am passionate about,” Clark said. “I have never stepped outside of my comfort zone before with my designs before, so I thought I why not take a risk. Happy to see it pay off.”
In her own words, Clark’s design “represents the silence that many people resort to when they hear about human trafficking.” Its simplistic design is intended to remind people to take a stand and speak up.
Shannon Keith, founder of Sudara, discussed the importance of skills and job training during their Sept. 24 presentation for Women Entrepreneurship Week, which you can view on the Center for Entrepreneurship’s YouTube channel.
“Sudara’s work is critical because it’s about a lot more than a business generating profits for shareholders,” Benedict said. “The world needs companies that are driven by a cause like Sudara to serve people and make their lives better. Sudara is proof that our students can find a purpose bigger than themselves in their career.”
Women Entrepreneurship Week was hosted by Ohio University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, TechGROWTH Ohio and the OHIO Women’s Center. The Center for Entrepreneurship is a partnership between the College of Business and Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
Sudara is committed to supporting and expanding the partnership with Ohio University. Any referrals for the Sudara affiliate program, wholesale or distributor partnerships or corporate gifting opportunities will also benefit My Sister’s Place. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Every purchase of Sudara goods helps women in India working to remain free from sex slavery.