Three Ohio University students placed in the Sudara Tee Design Competition as part of last semester’s Women Entrepreneurship Week.
Paige Burger, the first place winner and a senior studying graphic design, said she wanted to participate in the competition because she found out about the opportunity through working in the Center of Entrepreneurship at OU. Burger said she was “pleasantly shocked” that she won first place.
“It was a really good validation of like, ‘I’m doing the right thing with my career,’” Burger said. “It was a really good surprise.”
She said the inspiration from her shirt came from a pair of pajama pants Sudara already had.
“So I used that pattern and kind of rearranged it into a circle symbolizing like ‘circle of life’ or continuation of energy,” Burger said.
Burger said she has done shirt designs in the past but focuses more on logo and social media designs.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for graphic designers and people who are dabbling in design, students that are kind of unsure of what they want to do,” Burger said.
She entered a couple of submissions and her ideas came pretty quickly.
“That’s my advice, if you’re ever going to do a design competition, is to think about it for a while but also don’t be completely consumed by it, you can do multiple entries,” Burger said.
Candace Clark, the second place winner and a junior studying retail fashion merchandising, said she had never entered a contest like this before. Clark said she took a design class over quarantine and decided to purchase an iPad to create designs digitally and print on T-shirts.
She said her design was inspired by something she was already working on and changed it to fit Sudara’s mission of getting women out of sex trafficking.
After placing in the contest, Clark opened her own store to make more designs.
“I make all my designs and place them on products, whether it’s like sweatshirts or hoodies or crewnecks or anything like that,” she said. “I placed them on the sweatshirt, upload them to my website, so all people do is just go to my website, pick out the sweatshirt they want, and that notifies me when they purchase something.”
Clark said she felt it was great experience for her and it supports a great cause.
“I mean it’s cool because I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, one of my designs is sold in the boutique,’” she said. “So I think that’s really cool.”
Sarah Baker, the third place winner and an MFA candidate studying graphic design, said she finds it fulfilling to work with nonprofits to help them achieve their goals.
“My inspiration for the design came from Sudara’s ethos, and my own desire to create something impactful that would help raise funds to support and empower women locally and globally,” Baker said in an email. “It is so very important that we, as global citizens, care for women in need … (I) was very excited to see that my design placed in the top three, but I really hope it is able to raise some money for this cause.”
Sudara, a loungewear company, started as a nonprofit in 2005 and then became a benefit corporation in 2015.
“Sudara’s mission is to help women out of sex slavery by providing them with skills training and job opportunities,” Molly Bull, vice president of marketing said. “We’re really focused on sustainability so that they can stay out of sex slavery and the sex trade.”
Bull said the revenue from the pajama and loungewear sales is circulated back into training opportunities for the women they are supporting. Sudara also provides wellness services such as counseling, safe housing, childcare and transportation.
“We take a really holistic approach because these women that we are supporting out of the sex trade, as you can imagine, have been through pretty traumatic experiences,” Bull said. “So that’s also a key piece of what we do.”
Sudara is also working to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, according to its benefit report. These goals include an end to poverty, eliminating gender disparities in education, ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, eradicating human trafficking and modern slavery and reducing inequalities on a global scale.
Bull said this partnership gave OU students the opportunity for real-world graphic design work and 15% of the revenue from the T-shirts was donated to My Sister’s Place in Athens, a domestic violence agency. The top three designs were voted on by Sudara’s social media followers.
Sudara is open to continuing this partnership with OU, and Bull said it was fun to talk to the student designers about the inspiration for their designs.
“We love partnerships,” Bull said. “We just think we’re all better together when we’re all moving forward to do good in the world.”
Students can use the discount code ‘ohiogivesback’ on the website for 20% off flannels and student-designed T-shirts.
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