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Before we left in a hurry for reading week, you may have noticed a new Facebook page that got one thousand likes in just under 24 hours. This page belongs to “The Balance Project” which is a small business created by entrepreneurial students to educate others on alternative ethically sourced products. We wanted to get to know more about this company so we sat down with the co-founders, Kim Kirton and Levena Galopoulos for a quick chat. The students, who are in International Development, had a lot to share about their project that will interest a lot of students.

HC: Tell us a bit about yourselves in terms of involvement on campus.

Kim: This is my second year at university so I haven’t really had time to get involved except for being an executive member on Free The Children. Also, I used to do intramurals and I’m involved a lot on the DSA.

Lee: I am not too involved as of now, but I play volleyball.

HC: What made you decide you wanted to start up The Balance Project?

Kim: Last year, I had come across a very interesting video that talked about the comparison of sweatshops between Bangladesh and the U.S and it examined the reactions and results of the international community. There was a huge difference in terms of the aftermatch of the treatment of the employees, how the sweatshops were run and laws regarding the protection and safety of each worker. So, the video got me thinking about how I could make a difference in this matter, but I didn’t know how. Shortly after that, I started working with Me to We at there Take Action Camp which teaches youth about social justice issues and gives them resources and tools to help bring positive change back to their communities. I was preaching to these kids about all the social injustices in the world and how they should follow their dreams and that is when I realized I should start something that mattered. 

Lee: So, we had the chance to attend a conference in November on how to start a “business” and that’s where we got an amazing idea to start a social business..The workshop really helped us develop a plan and visualize the next steps we had to take in order to get our company running. 

HC: How did you two meet each other?

Lee: We met in our first year economics class. We hated our professor (laughs) and that was our mutual connection which bonded us.

HC: What is it like working together?

Kim: Lee has been nothing but supportive in this entire process. She assisted me in making my ideas concrete. She can carry the weight of the workload and she knows how to take leadership. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without her…

Lee: University is a completely different world, so the transition from high school to university was very difficult. So, it’s pretty good to have a friend who has the same insights as you.  Kim is my support system; I know I can count on her. We are good friends so working together comes naturally. We’re open to hearing each other’s ideas which makes it easier to get the work done.

HC: What are the objectives of The Balance Project?

Kim: We’re following a business model of a nonprofit company. The “Balance Project” apparel will not only be about cloths but it will also educate consumers. We’ll also be working with youth to get them to think about the future in terms of how to be a better consumer and how to not give your money away to big corporations who are using sweat shops in negative way.

Lee: We want to target university students for our appareil line and we’ll definetely implement fun, trendy and ethically sourced clothing. We will make our line as affordable as possible.

Kim: One important thing, we’re not telling people to only do thrift shopping or buy fair trade, but we’re saying to balance your lifestyle a little bit. 

HC: What is ethically sourced clothing for those who don’t know?

Lee: These concepts can get confusing, but it’s pretty simple. The main focus on ethically sourced clothing is that there are fair working conditions and fair living wages. Free trade is a negative concept. It means that small-scale producers are not protected or make any money when selling products.

Kim: On the other hand, ethically sourced labourers are protected, through labor laws, and code of conduct is in place in order to protect workers.  Employees have only certain hours a week to work, they have the right to unionize and  have the right to earn a living wage that is beyond basic needs.

HC: How did you choose your team of executives? Are you planning on adding new members?

Kim: Our current exec team are people that we know share the same views as us. We are from all types of backgrounds which is helpful when starting up this company.

Lee: We have a large diversity of members and we have people who are involved in the legal side, financial side, creative side etc.

Kim: Once our website launches in March, we will hold an information session during the evening and we will be recruiting more people. We’ll also have a promo video coming out soon. We’re excited about that.

HC: Can you tell me about the contest you’re holding?

Kim: Yes! Our Balance apparel is a platform for artists to design and be creative. We are launching a creative contest so artists can create some designs for our shirts.

Lee: We will have a voting period over a duration of 5 days so customers can vote on the artwork they would like to see on a t-shirt and then the winners can see their masterpiece become a reality.

Kim: We don’t expect people to have any background in art to participate. If the person can be unique with his or her creation, we’ll be more than happy to have them join the contest.

HC: How can people support you?

Lee: Take a look at our Facebook page or website, because using social media is also a key factor in helping educate people.

Kim: You don’t have to buy our clothes to support us, but the main objective is to insist that people hold a dialogue. People need to have conversations about more ethically sourced products. It is all I’m asking. Bring it up with your friends.

HC: Thanks for chatting with us! We are very excited with this new project that we think will have a great impact on our campus!

If you want more information on The Balance Project follow them on Facebook or take a look at their Tumblr blog.

 

Photo Credits: Kim Kirton and Lee Galopoulos

A lover for music, volunteering, traveling and meeting new people. I strive to learn new things and gain new experiences. Shoe addict, optimistic, outgoing, life is a masquerade ball! ~Live as if you were to die tomorrow, Learn as if you were to live forever -Gandhi~
Gloria Charles-Pierre is Her Campus uOttawa Alumni. She was one of our writers for four years and the French editor for two years. Gloria graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Arts specialized in French Lierature and two certificates in LSQ (Langue des Signes Québécoise). Now, she is in Teachers College and loving it. Gloria spends her time doing kick-boxing and working on her personnal writing project while growing in her faith. She hopes to travel more, and to continue her studies with a Masters in Education and also continue working in editing.
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