Several UCSB students are joining the socially-conscious apparel company Serengetee, a new and growing business with a company mission to “wear the world” by incorporating hand-chosen fabric from other countries into their clothing .

Serengetee donates five percent of their profits to 32 international, philanthropic nonprofit organizations that focus on an array of issues — from HIV prevention and education sponsorship to liberation from human trafficking and providing funds to military personnel. Serengetee also seeks to help local artisans from different areas of the world by purchasing and incorporating the fabric designs and patterns into their tees.

Seth Klebe, fourth-year environmental studies major and Serengetee Marketing Manager, the three founders of Serengetee — John Steitz, Ryan Westberg and Nate Holterman — were inspired to start the company after traveling abroad. Klebe said they did not accept any venture money and instead, they pulled from their personal savings to purchase the tools for making products while creating a sustainable marketing strategy.

“While traveling and studying, they realized that everyone on earth — both wealthy and poor — is connected by one thing: fabric,” Klebe said. “It was … to help the less fortunate in meaningful ways by bringing the fabrics of unique countries back to the U.S.”

According to Klebe, Serengetee is unique for its inimitable fabric. He said he believes other brand name companies who have come out with t-shirts similar to Serengetee lose the true meaning behind the shirt and design.

The founders of Serengetee handpick the fabric themselves, helping them build relationships with people in whatever area the fabric comes from, Klebe said.

“We could never imitate the fabrics of these countries that we get our fabric from because the fabric, in essence, is a display of their culture,” Klebe said. “Our founders also go on trips themselves to source fabric and make relationships with people making our fabric.”

Companies that mimic the Serengtee’s clothing include brands and retailers like Vans, RVCA and Pac Sun, Klebe said.

UCSB Rep Leader Natalie Stehr, fourth-year sociology major, said the web-based company uses a variety of platforms to spread its message and potentially attract celebrity sponsors.

“[Serengetee] promotes its company through its campus representatives, rep leaders [and] members, and it markets itself through social media sites like Facebook,” Stehr said. “Serengetee has reached out to a number of people that have helped in raising its awareness, like YouTube star Jimmy Tatro.”

Stehr said the company sends people abroad to search for more fabrics and organizations who may be supportive of the Serengtee mission.


 A version of this article appeared on page 5 of Wednesday October 16th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.