"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
This quote from Mahatma Gandhi is the first line you read on the website for Style with Benefits.
Chelsea Padgham, a senior in economics, started Style with Benefits this summer, fulfilling a dream of helping people she has fostered her whole life.
"I guess I had a senior year crisis," Padgham said. "I realized that I came into college thinking I was going to change the world and now I was about to go be an analyst for a bank or something. I had to do something."
Style with Benefits has three main goals: support developing economies around the globe by purchasing their ethically created products, fund small non-profits with a portion of every purchase and act as a liason between charitable groups and those who want to help.
The current goal of the organization is to raise $10,000 by Nov. 30 through the sale of specially designed T-shirts and donations. A portion, specifically $5, from each product sold will go to the featured organization.
"A lot of smaller non-profits tend to get left out when brands are collaborating because they want the marketing power of a bigger brand," Padgham explained. "But smaller movements are often more innovative and take an original approach to problems."
Padgham is currently working with two small non-profits, Lava Mae and Kite Child.
Lava Mae, based in San Francisco, aims to provide homeless individuals with access to showers and toilets by transforming old municipal buses into mobile showering facilities.
Kite Child is a project-based organization helping to improve orphanages in places such as Liberia, India and Kenya.
Tom Graves, a lecturer and operations director of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, gave Padgham business advice and supported her throughout the process.
"It's probably no more difficult for a student to start a business when they're in college than it is when they get out of college," Graves said. "In fact, sometimes it's easier because of the opportunities and mentoring that is available on campus."
UT offers several opportunities for prospective business-owners, such as the Boyd Venture Fund which provides seed money up to $20,000 to selected student-operated companies each semester.
Although about 80 percent of business start-ups fail, Graves thinks students who heed expert advice and remain flexible can succeed.
"We've had students that started businesses in college, and they have 45 employees on four continents and they're only 23 years old," Graves said. "So there is potential for longevity in these companies."
Using her own savings to start Style with Benefits, Padgham admits that finding the funds to support her project is difficult. However, she remains determined.
"I have the type of personality that I get an idea in my head and I go for it with full force until I hit success or utter failure," she said.
Padgham hopes her project will make a positive difference in the world.
"People should support my campaign so they can be part of the beginning of something great," she added.
To purchase items from Style with Benefits, click here. Style with Benefits can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.