A University of Memphis student has created a new clothing company, Sol&Col, aiming to use sustainable materials whilst simultaneously creating jobs for women in lower-income countries.
Sol&Co was founded by Lexi Grisanti after her gap year in 2017. The brand sells one type of pant available in two colors and is seeing success for its sustainability and originality.
“The goal of Sol&Co is to love and empower every human we come in contact with,” Sol&Co's website said. “We desire to eliminate waste in manufacturing and see our earth looking its best.”
Grisanti is simultaneously studying at the University of Memphis while developing her new business, working towards both her degree and further success for her venture. Her online classes enable her to work around the globe while studying toward her Memphis degree.
“I never feel overwhelmed with school work," said Grisanti, who returned to Memphis after her gap year to study Microloans. "Thankfully, it comes naturally."
Grisanti’s venture began in 2017 when she launched a program called The World Race. This allowed her to travel around the world and witness joblessness among women, and a lack of morality in the manufacturing industry.
“From living in refugee camps to fish farming in Cambodia, I witnessed poverty and joblessness in many different ways,” Grisanti said, “I was heartbroken that I would go back to my regular life and the people I shared a life with would remain in the vicious cycle of poverty.”
Influenced by these dire conditions Grisanti experienced firsthand, Sol&Co was born.
“I wanted to make the pant environmentally friendly. The massive amount of indecomposable clothing is heartbreaking. I wanted to reduce the waste that ends up in the landfills around the world,” Grisanti said.
Currently residing in Nicaragua, Grisanti is undertaking humanitarian and mission work in the local community. She is currently learning computer science and searching for future employees for her brand, all while managing her developing company.
Through her self-proclaimed love of all things creative, the first product of Sol&Co came into fruition. Designed to be suitable for a manner of occasions including business meetings and working out, the Wilder Pant became Grisanti’s first official creation. Available in both green and black, in sizes from XS to 3XL, the unisex product was designed to be versatile yet fashionable.
“I needed pants I could wear in the warm climates while still looking professional,” Grisanti said.
Sales began flying in through Grisanti's website as Sol&Co's products were made available for the public. However, her success was not without initial issues.
“At first, I was using an ethically sourced and eco-friendly manufacturer supplying jobs in Southeast Asia, when my employees got struck by the coronavirus,” Grisanti explained.
The outbreak of the virus meant production had to be moved from Thailand to Nicaragua. This enabled Grisanti to work with a local seamstress who needed work and has now enlisted the help of local students after her pre-order numbers were double what she expected. The employment of these students has now enabled them to attend school and break the cycle of poverty, Grisanti explained.
Back at home in Memphis, Grisanti has been inspired by the famous start-up culture offered here. “It has empowered me to chase after my dreams,” Grisanti said. “My Memphis community is the only reason I am able to do what I am doing now.”
Grisanti sees Memphis as a place of opportunity, of which the city’s vibrant spirit is what originally inspired her to make the changes she thought was needed.
Looking toward the future of Sol&Co, Grisanti hopes to sell her clothes in Memphis boutiques, possibly owning her own store here. “My dream is to use the proceeds to distribute microloans to the poverty-stricken people I come in contact with. I never want economic barriers to separate people from living out their dreams and purposes,” Grisanti said.
The young Memphis entrepreneur has resonated with the public with her determination to spread employment and opportunity to those in need, and she hopes to expand her business and to continue helping those in areas most impoverished across the globe.