Philanthropic Start-Up Seeks Mass Production Through Direct to Garment Printing
Posted 22nd May 2018 by Christina Molina
When University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student Drew McNamara was asked to create a project that would demonstrate positive social change, he developed something that not only satisfied his assignment, but aligned with his passion for helping people with disabilities through a start-up called Creative Souls.
“There are over 57 million people in the United States with disabilities – only 17% are employed. The mission of Creative Souls is to empower people with disabilities to earn an income while gaining an amazing learning experience where they can feel valued and show their unique personalities through their work as an artist or as a member of the team” says McNamara of his now year and a half venture.
“I’ve worked with seven artists with disabilities in Champaign, Illinois. These artists hand painted on about thirty pairs of shoes. Once I sold a pair, the artists received profit from it.” But the ability to meet demand became challenging with artists hand crafting each shoe, limiting shoe size variations and quantities. “I realized I needed to develop a strategy for how I wanted to grow Creative Souls.”
Drew got a demo of a direct to garment printer and learned first-hand about the capabilities of printing directly on shoes, shirts and many more products. “With a direct to garment printer, Creative Souls can go from helping seven artists who hand-paint on shoes to possibly thousands of artists across the U.S. who can send in a sketch on a sheet of paper and have it printed directly onto a product. The printer allows an artist’s design on many pairs of shoes or apparel in different sizes, which ultimately means profit for artists in the end.”
Creative Souls launched a month-long Kickstarter campaign to purchase its first direct to garment printer for $20,000. Within 30 days, Drew had raised $15,000. “We didn’t reach our goal on Kickstarter at the end of that month, which means we didn’t keep any of the money raised.” Following that fundraiser, Drew launched a second campaign on YouCaring, which welcomes people to donate at any time and allows campaign owners to keep the funds. As of late, Creative Souls is still raising money to purchase its first direct to garment printer.
Printing directly on virtually any surface has grown from concept to reality with capabilities that reach any type of production, including the one Drew McNamara seeks for Creative Souls. According to I.T. Strategies, digital textile printing alone earned $1.04 billion dollars in revenue in 2017 and is expected to reach $5 billion globally within 5 to 7 years.
“The goal of Creative Souls is to make an impact on as many individuals with disabilities as possible,” McNamara said. “This technology and a direct to garment printer can take Creative Souls to a place where we’d be able to provide that opportunity.”
For more information on Creative Souls, please visit the following websites: