Junior Madison Mills is giving University of South Dakota students a way to get involved in something bigger than themselves, all while practicing her marketing skills.
Mills, who is majoring in business with a specialization in marketing, saw a link on Facebook for the clothing brand Serengetee and applied on a whim to be a campus representative the day before the application was due and soon found out she had been accepted in early September.
“I’ve always wanted to be involved in something — something good,” Mills said. “This was one of those things where it caught my eye right away. I loved it as soon as I started reading through the website and looking at all the different causes.”
Serengetee was launched in 2012 from a dorm room after three college students gathered fabrics on a Semester at Sea from more than 15 countries. The clothing brand benefits 32 causes around the world with help from high schools and colleges like USD.
The fabrics collected from different countries around the world are cut into pockets for T-shirts, hats, headphones, backpacks and other apparel.
“Each fabric is linked up with a cause,” Mills said. “It’s everything from animal rights to disaster relief to poverty relief to education to pollution. There’s tons of different things.”
Mills is working toward a final project which she will reveal at the end of the semester. She said representatives have “challenges” to complete throughout their employment, which includes delving deeper into promoting the brand through reaching out to students.
“It was made by college students for college students, so they’re going to be our biggest target audience,” Mills said. “I definitely would want to get as many college students involved in that as I can.”
Through the experience, Mills is working to promote Serengetee throughout campus and the community through social media, talking to school media outlets, hanging up flyers and and speaking about the business to classes. She is also offering codes for discounts on Serengetee online purchases.
Mills has reached out to Marketing Instructor and Academic Adviser Richard Muller for insight into tactics she might utilize.
Muller said he tries to encourage his students to take internships for what he calls “experiential learning.”
“There are a number of different kinds internships, obviously, and experiences like that,” Muller said. “I’m always curious to make sure that my students maximize the experience because there’s no teacher like hands-on experience.”
Though Mills is not receiving credit for this venture, Muller said it will certainly be a resume-builder and a stepping stone to a possible job opportunity.
As of Nov. 4, Serengetee as a whole had reached a total of $54,138 in donations, or the five percent from each product added together. Their supporters through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram totaled 324,730.
Junior Justine Twite is one of those new supporters.
Twite is on the track team with Mills and was the first person on campus who received a discount code from Mills to receive 15 percent off a purchase, one of the promotional deals. She used her code to purchase a shirt with a pocket fabric from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Whole Planet Foundation, which works toward poverty alleviation through entrepreneurs in more than 50 countries, received 5 percent of the profit.
“It’s really important what the cause is doing, trying to eliminate poverty, because I know there’s a lot of it in third-world countries,” Twite said. “It’s really cool that they help these people start a business, essentially.”
Right after she made her purchase, Twite told her roommate about the business, spreading the word for the many causes Serengetee benefits. She also told her younger sister, who lives in Tea, S.D.
“It’s a really good idea, because who doesn’t want a shirt?” Twite said. “So it’s functional, plus it’s helping out a good cause, and you can’t really go wrong with that.”
Mills is happy she found a way to be involved in making a difference in the world.
“There’s so much bad going on in the world. We see so many just terrible, awful things, and I think that if you can put something good out into the world you should, and you should do it as much as you can and as often as you can,” Mills said.
(Photo: Junior Madison Mills, a campus representative for Serengetee, has been promoting the clothing brand to her friends and other students on campus. Each fabric pocket patch on Serengetee products comes from a specific country, and 5 percent of the proceeds from a purchase benefits a cause associated with each country. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)