Entrepreneurs hope to change the world one T-shirt at a time
Can the simple act of wearing a T-shirt or a hoodie help to change the world?
Greensburgers Jack Wardale and Mitch Eger are betting on it.
The pair, who became friends playing on the Seton Hill University soccer team, have launched Impower, a clothing line they hope will raise money for charity and encourage wearers to find ways to help make the world a better place.
At Seton Hill, the teammates discovered a shared passion for inspiring change.
Eger was inspiring people to get fit through his work as a personal trainer. Wardale was interested in motivating people to change their perspectives to find happiness and greater self-fulfillment.
Somewhere along the way, they settled on the idea of speaking out via clothing with a logo.
“Everyone wears clothes,” Wardale says.
Initially, the company is offering a $20 T-shirt in either black or white and a $40 black hooded sweatshirt, all printed with the word “Impower” and a lightning bolt logo topped with a closed fist.
The clothing is sourced from American companies and printing is done at Off the Wall Graphics in Greensburg.
Times of uncertainty
“You know when you see someone wearing our brand that they want to change the world for the better,” Wardale says. “In these times of uncertainty, it seemed like the right time to do it.”
Impower doesn’t subscribe to any political, religious or other philosophy, Wardale and Eger say. Instead, the company encourages people to “Change the world your way.”
That’s part of the reason they chose to substitute an “i” for the traditional “e” in the word “empower,” to encourage people to claim a personal stake in change.
As an incentive, what the pair call a “not-just-for-profit company” will donate 10 percent of each sale to a charity of the buyer’s choice. The only stipulation is that the target must be a registered nonprofit.
Eger and Wardale say they hope eventually to be able to customize their logo to indicate the charity the wearer supports.
At some point, they also want to expand their product line. One item they’d like to offer is baseball caps, because “everybody wears those,” Wardale says.
Though this won’t happen for a while, Wardale and Eger say that buyers will be able to trade in their worn Impower items for a discount on new clothing. The used items then will be donated to charity.
With a mid-February launch, Eger says they sold $1,000 worth of clothing in the first week. They also were excited to hear from a Los Angeles-based producer who has worked with rapper Snoop Dogg.
“We sent him some things, and he said if they liked them, they’d order more,” Eger says.
Through their website, the Impower founders hope to create what Wardale calls “micro-communities” through which people with the same charitable interests can network.
As Impower grows, the pair will keep working their day jobs.
Eger is a graphic designer with a local software start-up company. Wardale is studying for his MBA at Seton Hill, where he also works in the undergraduate admissions office.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .