Celeste Currie, now a junior at Syracuse University, never imagined herself as an entrepreneur, much less an entrepreneur involved in retail. And as an information technology student with a start-up, shouldn’t she be doing something digital?
But while her business may not live on a server or have a mobile app, it definitely has a lot of heart.
SoulScarf’s mission is to knit together the threads of fashion and philanthropy one customer, one charity, and one scarf at a time. For every thick wool infinity scarf that Currie sells, she donates 20 percent of the proceeds to a charity of the customer’s choice, tagging the neckwear with a small heart. The company was founded in October 2012, and by the end of December, it had already donated slightly over $2,000.
Given her background in community service, "Bringing a charitable aspect to the company was a no-brainer," Currie says. The hard part was choosing which causes her company should contribute to. The process involved equal parts business smarts and her own philanthropic leanings.
"I had to keep crossing off charities that had too many rules and regulations for giving," Currie says. Eventually, she connected with four causes that fit both her passions and her restrictions: the ASPCA, Feed the Children, Project H. Design, and The Breast Cancer Society.
Hatched in an Information Technology, Design and Start-ups class, SoulScarf, like most start-ups, evolved from a frustration. Unable to find attractive wool scarves for under $80, Currie decided to start making her own, pricing to suit young women with social consciences and a budget. Since then, SoulScarf has grown with the help and guidance of several mentors, including serial entrepreneur John Liddy, who has worked with student start-ups at Syracuse University for several years.
"Anytime that you have something to do with fashion, you have to go along with the trends," Liddy says. "But given what I’ve seen so far in Celeste’s ability to understand what’s up next, and her ability to get into the market through multiple channels, I think she has a really strong chance."
When Currie graduates next year, she hopes to throw herself into SoulScarf full time.
Says Currie: "We’re ready to go to the next level."