By Juliann Guiffre
“How Do You Live?” This is the question posted on thousands of t-shirts sold in college bookstores across the country. Each speaks for the men and women in sub-Saharan Africa who labor hour after hour to make these 100% cotton pieces of clothing.
Beginning this fall, Barnes & Noble College bookstores partnered with EDUN- a socially conscious clothing company launched by Ali Hewson and Bono in the spring of 2005. More than 600 bookstores nationwide will sell the edun LIVE brand of clothing, which creates sustainable employment for thousands of workers in Africa through its sales.
The partnership was created after Barnes & Noble heard about the edun LIVE on Campus (ELOC) initiative with Miami University of Ohio’s School of Business. According to EDUN Business Development Manager Christine Driscoll, Barnes & Noble approached them to find out more and subsequently decided that selling the edun LIVE
tees in college bookstores would be “a great fit.”
“This is because students are really responding to edun LIVE’s mission…we are thrilled to be in the Barnes & Noble bookstores and hope that students enjoy the look and feel of our 100% African edun LIVE t-shirts,” said Driscoll.
Karen DiScala, manager of communications at Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, said they were extremely glad that edun LIVE “embraced our vision to distribute and promote their products and made us their exclusive bookstore retailer in the college market.”
Edun LIVE was founded by Hewson, entrepreneur and wife of U2 singer Bono. Its mission is to reduce Africa’s dependency on foreign aid by creating a trading business model. According to an August 21, 2007 press release, this year edun LIVE produced and sold more than 1.5 million t-shirts worldwide.
According to the edun LIVE website, Africa’s share of world trade is down to 2%, and if the continent could regain just 1% it would earn an additional $70 billion in exports a year.
The clothing of edun LIVE is manufactured entirely in developing countries such as Lesotho, Tanzania, and Uganada. This includes growing the cotton all the way to shipping the product. Clothing in bookstores will typically feature edun LIVE slogans or the particular school’s name and logo.
The partnership has connected with students and adults on campus alike. Kyle Meloche, manager of the bookstore, thinks that “this is great! The bookstore is doing this and also something to support breast cancer awareness, and I really like it.”
Sophomore Lauren Wallace was also pleasantly surprised, saying, “I like that it’s not a charity and it’s going back to the African laborers. It’s good to see the school is getting involved in these kinds of things.”
As Wallace mentioned, edun LIVE emphasizes that it is not a charity; it is a for-profit business with a successful business model driven by high volume sales. For more information on the clothing brand and how it got started, go to edun-live.com.