IdeaMe is an online platform, which helps creators, be they inventors, artists, or designers, among others, to finance their projects through crowd funding. The Indy features and promotes one project every week, with the aim of helping the creators finance and achieve their dreams.
Not quite halfway through university, 20-year-old Daniel Jaramillo is closer to launching an international company than obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
When the Colombian native hit US soil two years ago to begin college in Miami, he began to take interest in the ‘green’ movement that several students were participating in.
“Everyone was trying to help the planet in some way; recycling, buying organic,” he said.
Jaramillo was impressed at the variety of commercial items that could be made eco-friendly, and liked the idea of wearing organic clothing as well. He was less impressed when he saw the actual options.
“The ones that I saw out there weren’t very nice,” he said of the sartorial ‘green’ selection. “I just wouldn’t want to wear them.”
Around the same time, a cousin of Jaramillo was volunteering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that shattered the nation. Jaramillo was moved by his cousin’s photographs, and was inspired by the increasingly popular Toms—a shoe brand that donates one pair of new shoes to children in need for every pair purchased.
“It just connected,” he said. “I wanted to create a brand that was organic for clothing, and do something for the community.”
Jaramillo’s young life in Medellin and travels in China and Africa have opened his eyes to the austere realities children are faced with all around the world.
So with the Toms model in mind, the then-18-year-old created Newi, a clothing brand that stood for “new world innovation”.
But with no business experience and modest financial upstart, Jaramillo said potential investors and partners had little faith in the college kid that showed up at the meetings.
“The first year of work was really rough,” he said. “People wouldn’t take me seriously, people would take advantage; I ran out of resources.”
Jaramillo said he began bringing his father along to meetings to put investors’ minds at ease. The elder Jaramillo and other family members had also helped with the initial costs of starting the company, and Daniel says their support has been instrumental the whole way through.
Eventually, pieces of the business started falling into place. His native Medellin is the textile capitol of Colombia, and through his contacts he was able to finally find a manufacturer that would fill an order so small.
Jaramillo says he was shocked at how many different players had to be involved in one operation.
“You have to get the fabric cut somewhere, sewn somewhere else,” he said. “I originally had no idea how to put it together. You do lose a lot of time.”
During one of his countless web searches along the way, Jaramillo came across a new nanotechnology for fabric. The product prevents bacteria, fungus and diseases from growing in clothes, and he says just seemed to click with what he was trying to do.
“The shirts we are giving away have great benefits,” he said. “You don’t have to wash the clothing as much, and in many of these places, people just don’t have that much access to water.”
Jaramillo said his vision was international from the get-go. Newi’s first clothing giveaway was in his home Colombia, and says his next frontiers include Africa and Haiti.
He is hoping that his involvement with ideame.com will help raise the US$6,500 needed to launch the line that his savings and initial investments aren’t able to cover.
“It would go to finish up the full collection,” he said. “We have eight items right now, and we’re hoping to get out the full 15.”
Jaramillo says he feels confident not only in the good that his brand will do, but also that people will actually want to be seen in his clothes.
“This weekend I went to the beach with friends, and we all had the Newi products on,” he said. Without disclosing his involvement with the brand, Jaramillo says they were repeatedly stopped by strangers wanting to know where to find the clothing.
Remaining mum on his identity, Jaramillo politely directed them to the online store of men’s and women’s tank tops, polos and t-shirts.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I loved it.”
Daniel has a little over a month to raise his target of US$6,500. To help him in his efforts, visit his Ideame page.