For some people, being passionate and having a desire to succeed is all that it takes to make a dream become reality.
Penn State student Abu Fofanah is one of these people.
His passion is to promote philanthropy through fashion — which he does with his company MoAp, short for Motivational Apparel. Fofanah and his associates make T-shirts with motivational slogans with part of the profits donated to the Special Olympics.
“It’s more than a clothing brand, it’s a message brand,” Fofanah (junior-finance) said.
The idea started when he was working as a Penn State Summer Conference Assistant after his freshman year at Penn State, he said.
During his time as an assistant, Fofanah helped out with the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games.
Fofanah said he feels that these athletes are some of the hardest working athletes he has met.
Of all the events that Fofanah worked, one particular interaction made an impact. One of the swimmers was feeling insecure, but with words of encouragement from her father, she was able to push through, Fofanah said.
“He always had a quick response to deflect the negative things she thought...that she couldn’t perform to expectations,” Fofanah said.
Fofanah originally started an online T-shirt business at the urging of his friends and mentors. He admits it is hard work.
“You want to give up because you’re like, man, is what I’m doing worth it?” he said.
But seeing the impact he made through random encounters with students wearing his designs on campus motivated him to keep perfecting this project.
After studying international business and fashion this past summer in Europe, he decided that in order to make his vision a success, he had to create an internal structure and gather a team to help him expand.
Currently, this team consists of Anjuli Patel, Alain Crevecoeur Fuli Wang (senior-art history) and Camila Chicarelli (junior-finance).
“It’s a very, very unique experience,” Patel (junior-marketing) said. “This is [Fofanah’s] passion, this is his dream. Just being able to help someone who feels so strong about something, it’s a good feeling.”
Each student contributes in his or her own way to the project, but much of the work is collaboration, Patel said.
“I share Abu’s passion and vision for this idea,” Crevecoeur (senior-journalism) said. “I was so intrigued in how passionate he was, and I always wanted to feel passionate about whatever it was I wanted to do…this idea, I just loved it.”
Through their collaboration — and several trials and errors — the group was able to set up a photo shoot for their new line, work with a student videographer to put together a promotional video, and launch its new website. The group hopes to eventually expand and have brand ambassadors on other campuses.
Although MoAp only just officially opened for business, it has already received a great deal of attention for the work that it has done, Fofanah said.
Fofanah has met with representatives from Urban Outfitters, and is in the process of trying to sell some items from the new line with the company. He was also able to meet with former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to talk about his company, and share stories about starting a business.
“She was a great listener,” Fofanah said.
The group is excited about the launch and for the future. As the group continues to work on the project, according to MoAp’s mission statement, they believe that every individual has “untapped potential” and “that life has no limitations except the one[s] you make.”
More information about Motivational Apparel can be found at http://shopmoap.com/.