The concept is simple: find a product, make it unique and sell it to a paying customer for a profit. That’s capitalism. Serengetee CEO Jeff Steitz CM ’13 decided instead to use this formula as a model to give back.
The Serengetee slogan states that when you wear their tees, “you wear the world.” The company sells standard black and white T-shirts, “bro tanks” or racer backs, each stitched with a piece of patterned fabric from various parts of the world.
Fabric prints range from geometric prints from Ghana to panda bears from China to miniature flags from different countries. Each week, the company chooses a fabric and charity from a particular region. For every purchase of a tee with this fabric, Serengetee will donate $10 of the proceeds to the cause.
They also promote each charity throughout the week with information and a video on their Facebook page and website. According to their website, the mission of Serengetee is “to connect people to the globe through fabric while giving back to the communities that inspire and create our designs.”
“It’s really hard to decide which charities to pick,” Steitz said. “Sometimes we do things in other countries and sometimes we do things in the United States. Causes can range from education to poverty to sex trafficking. It really runs the gamut.”
The current headliner cause at Serengetee is Movin’ With the Spirit Mission Haiti, an organization working to establish a new orphanage, school and health clinic in the villages of Duverger and Dandann. Serengetee promises that the purchase of one T-shirt or tank will feed seven children in the orphanage for one day.
Serengetee was founded by Steitz and other friends he met during his spring Semester at Sea last year.
“I went abroad this past spring on a semester at sea and visited 60 different ports around the world,” Steitz said. “I was picking up fabric from all over the place and I wanted to use it for something. So (my friends and I) decided to use the fabric to assemble pockets on shirts and give back to the countries that inspired them.”
Serengetee is a student-run company, and its team of Semester at Sea students is dispersed across the country. The Head Cause Coordinator is a student of Providence College, the Chief Marketing Officer attends University of Arizona and their Head of Public Relations lives in New York. The rest of the team is based in Claremont, with representation at Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College and Harvey Mudd College.
Last spring, Serengetee won first place at the 22nd Annual Kravis Concept Plan Competition and received a $4,500 grant to further their company. The grant helped the group of friends from Semester at Sea expand their growth, rent a warehouse and establish their company.
Last Saturday, Serengetee hosted a party at CMC’s Green Lounge, where the company gave out free shirts, drinks and provided a general atmosphere of merriment all afternoon.
“Through the party, we wanted to get our word out on campus that Serengetee is here and let everyone know who we are and what our brand means,” Steitz said.
“I want to keep Serengetee a presence on the 5Cs even after I graduate,” Steitz continued. “I hope to have a campus rep here and at over a hundred different colleges to continue to spread the word.”