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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Students “wear the world” with Serengetee

Photo+Illustration+by+Savannah+Douglas%0A%0ADomenic+Alvaro%2C+a+finance+senior+and+campus+representative+for+Serengetee%2C+holds+up+the+companies+mission+-+to+empower+causes+and+communities.+Serengetee+gives+back+throughout+the+world+by+selling+their+T-shirts.+
Photo Illustration by Savannah Douglas Domenic Alvaro, a finance senior and campus representative for Serengetee, holds up the companies mission – to empower causes and communities. Serengetee gives back throughout the world by selling their T-shirts.

UA students have the opportunity to “wear the world” this Wednesday and Thursday when the clothing company Serengetee comes to campus for a trunk sale in the UofA Bookstore.

Serengetee was co-founded by UA alumnus Ryan Westberg after his semester abroad took him to countries across the world. The Semester at Sea program brought Westberg together with Jeff Steitz, the other co-founder. The two launched the company three months after they returned.

“We started buying fabrics from each of the countries we visited,” Westberg said. “We took these fabrics and we made them into pockets on T-shirts, and because we had seen the problems in these countries, we decided we wanted a charitable aspect as well.”

The company donates 5 percent of every sale to one of 32 causes currently supported by Serengetee. Each fabric supports a charity that helps the region the fabric was purchased from.
Serengetee also supports local artisans from countries around the world by buying materials for fabric weavers and buying the product they make, Westberg said.

“We’re empowering people in these countries, but also giving back to charities within the region,” Westberg said.

Grant Suman, an operations management junior, said it’s impressive that Westberg and his friends were able to start up a successful company in college.

“I think it’s really cool how they’re able to give back, all the while being an entrepreneurial spirit coming from the university,” Suman said. “They graduate and that’s what they’re doing, that’s their primary job.”

The company has expanded rapidly in the past year, Westberg said, with the product line now including backpacks and button ups.

Troy Campbell, a psychology junior, was a campus representative for the company last summer. Campbell said he’s noticed the company gaining national recognition.

“It’s really picking up around the country,” Cambell said. “I have some friends who go to school at Georgetown [University], and they see Serengetee all over the place.”
Serengetee is also working to get celebrity sponsors signing up, like Tyler Posey of MTV’s “Teen Wolf.”

“[Tyler] was looking for a fun way to give back to a cause he’s passionate about,” Westberg said.
Like Posey, Westberg was looking to raise money for the philanthropy of his old fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha. Westberg is bringing Serengetee to the UA to raise funds for Saturday’s 13th annual Lute Olsen Cancer Center Run, which supports cancer research.

Westberg said 5 dollars from every item sold at the trunk sale will go directly to the cause. The company’s products can also be charged to a bursar’s account to make buying more convenient for students.

Campbell, also a member of PIKE, said that Westberg was happy to help raise money for the fraternity’s philanthropic cause.

“He’s still aware of all the stuff that we do,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t so much we had to reach out to him and get him to do it, he was willing to help.”

The trunk sale at the UA is the first college sale the company has held, Westberg said, but there are plans to travel around the country next fall in a tailgate tour to advertise to colleges.

Westberg said Serengetee focuses on advertising to college students because of the company message of giving back.

“College kids are so passionate,” Westberg said. “We gave them a platform to buy a cool product, but also to create a story with that product, to buy a fabric from around the world attached to a cause you like.”

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