In 2011, Jeff Steitz + Ryan Westberg embarked on the trip of a lifetime, spending their fall semester on the MV Explorer. Through the Institute of Shipboard Education’s program, Semester at Sea, they traveled to over 15 countries, spanning across South America, Africa, + Asia. Of the many things they learned both in + outside of the “classroom”, one idea stood out: the transformative power of fabric – to clothe, to express, + ultimately, to connect.
That following spring, they launched Serengetee, a cause-driven startup, out of their dorm room with the mission of creating products that inspire compassion + implement sustainable change. Starting with the classic pocket tee, they’ve expanded to hoodies, backpacks and totes, accessories, + even home goods – all made with fabrics from around the globe. Each fabric is paired with a cause, which supports the area from which that fabric has been sourced. Some charities that Serengetee supports include 5 Gyres, WholePlanet Foundation, Soles4Souls, Pencils of Promise, + Thanda. ++ in just three, short years, Serengetee has seen incredible growth, supported by a *Serengetee Nation* of passionate college students, who agree that…
A few months after Serengetee’s launch, I found myself at Jeff + Ryan’s non-traditional alma mater, setting sail for two months in the Mediterranean. After attending an interest meeting for Serengetee one evening, I was absolutely inspired, ready to source fabrics from the countries I would be exploring which would later find themselves on someone else’s t-shirt. ++ you know what? I thought that would be it. I would do my part, score some pretty awesome gear, + head home after my summer voyage.
After a semester back on land, I came back. I asked Jeff and Ryan: what can I do? Beginning as a campus rep, I brought Serengetee to the College of William & Mary. Before I knew it, I had taken on the role of East Coast Rep Leader [think CHAARG Ambassador ;)], inspiring over 300 college students to create their own waves of change through the power of the pocket.
Fast forward a little bit, + find me at the beginning of my senior spring at W&M. I’m scrolling through Instagram, some fitness-related #hashtags, + then, I hit gold. Yep, you guessed it — the @CHAARG Instagram Account. We’ll just say the rest is history… ; )
Having been a part of the Virtual CHAARG Community for over a year, I am now realizing a two-fold connection between these two organizations, both of which have completely changed my life for the absolute better.
WE PUSH FOR TRUE, INSTRUMENTAL CHANGE. WE BELIEVE THERE IS AN INHERENT NEED TO STEP UP + DO SOMETHING.
Here, at CHAARG, we come together to [literally] change ourselves – physically, mentally, + emotionally, through our common passion for living a healthy + fit lifestyle. With Serengetee, change comes by giving back to communities that need it most. [One of my favorite fabrics is the Pena Blanca, which has supported Rosa, a young Guatemalan woman, to fight poverty + chase her own dreams of graduating high school + becoming a nurse!] ++ as interconnected as this world really is, I believe when we give back to ourselves [through healthy choices + self-acceptance], we can then truly give to others.
WE MOBILIZE OUR COMMUNITY TO UNDERSTAND WHY THIS CHANGE IS IMPORTANT ++ THEN, OF COURSE, TO GO OUT IN THE WORLD + MAKE IT HAPPEN.
I have never been a part of a group that has helped me understand the meaning of *community* more than both CHAARG + Serengetee. When working with my campus reps + fellow rep leaders at Serengetee, I checked in with them daily; we worked together to push influential marketing campaigns, collaborated on how to create Serengetee’s unique place at our very different college campuses, + then, just talked as college students do — about our passions outside of Serengetee, post-college fears, + a lot about where we wanted to travel next. With CHAARG, the community aspect is just as important. As a VirtCHAARG member, I have no idea what I would do without our Facebook group, the CHAARG newsletters, the FitPlans [my favorite!], + the @_inCHAARG instagram posts that make me part of this incredible group of women.
Ultimately, CHAARG + Serengetee have taught me one of the most important life lessons…
Having studied English in college, I felt the pressures of concentrating on teaching or going straight to grad school by my family + peers. Even at the end of my junior year, I would have never imagined I would now be in the crazy *start-up world*, supporting other’s innovative solutions, while constantly dreaming up my own. Young entrepreneurs like Jeff, Ryan, + Elisabeth have helped me realize that it’s okay [+ even awesome!] to want the extraordinary — we just have to work for it, day in + day out.
I challenge each of us to make that first step towards achieving our daydreams. It doesn’t have to be this grandiose, life-changing action; I would even argue that it’s a compilation of small choices that get us to where we belong. Whether it’s by *wearing the world* [+ supporting a charity that means something to you] or participating in today’s #CHAARGSBFP insta check-in + spreading the movement of CHAARG, your actions can help inspire others to make a change. ++ just imagine what kind of ripple that begins…
CHECK IN WITH US!
If you guys have felt the power of this community, like I hope you have, don’t keep it to yourself — share it! This community was built by your support + it will only grow with your support. We need your help in finding the next set of CHAARG Ambassadors to establish CHAARG Chapters at their universities + change girls’ lives. If you know any health + fitness enthusiasts ++ fearless leaders who would be a good fit, please encourage them to email email@example.com for an application. Your challenge today is to regram this picture on your PERSONAL [not #inCHAARG ; )] instagram ++ encourage girls to not only join the movement, but to lead the movement + apply to become an Ambassador! Make sure to tag #CHAARGSBFP + @CHAARG in your posts!
// FEATURED BEACH BAG PRODUCT: Sergentee Tote in Evergeen [obsessed is an understatement]. Follow @serengetee on instagram + get inspired to help change lives around the globe. We are so thankful to have this amazing company a part of the #CHAARGSBFP.