If you had a childhood anything like mine, you were constantly told to think of others and not just yourself, to remember that you are not the only person on the planet. It was difficult at a young age to think about the needs of others and to care enough to put those thoughts into action. This awareness of others is something we learn as children that often gets lost in today’s adult world.
A longing for selflessness and compassion is what motivated Lauren Wallis to start a one of a kind T-shirt company called Youme Clothing. Lauren and a few friends started the business in college, selling T-shirts out of the trunks of their cars to raise money for communities in Africa. Lauren and her husband Marc now have full time day jobs but they continue to give so much of their lives and hearts to the mission of Youme Clothing.
The Youme model is simple, yet the impact is wide. Lauren and her many friends have partnerships with communities in Kenya, Uganda, Swaziland and Mozambique, places where they have deep friendships with individuals in local churches, nonprofits and government organizations. A few times a year Lauren, Marc and friends will travel to these communities to organize a clothing exchange. At the exchange local children are asked to bring one piece of clothing, their oldest and most worn, to trade for a brand new piece of clothing and/or school uniform.
The Youme team then brings the children’s old clothing with them back to the United States, where the garments are washed, cut and sewn into patches. Those patches of fabric are then sewn onto Youme products – T-shirts, sweatshirts, and pull overs. Proceeds from product sales are then given back to the community to be used in development projects such as building wells, growing gardens, or supplying medical treatments.
“It’s about you before me, your needs before mine,” says Lauren in a short video about the organization, explaining the motivation behind the company’s name.
Lauren and Marc are individuals of such value and worth in the small business community. The entire Ember Arts team is so thankful for the work they are doing to build community, empower dreamers, and put sustainable products in the hands of many people.
This week we are doing a giveaway with Youme Clothing. Head on over to Instagram to enter the contest to win a T-shirt and necklace, and to learn more about Youme Clothing.