Forward Thinking Fashion for a Cause
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 23:09
For the Georgetown community, it is not uncommon to hear that students intern, work paid jobs or start up their own projects and initiatives. For Ifedayo Bethel-Sears (COL ’13), exposure to the fashion industry and work in social development over the past five years have inspired her to establish her own business: Sucsession.
Originally from the Bahamas and the first runner-up in the 2009 Miss Bahamas pageant, Bethel-Sears chose to come to Georgetown over participating in an international beauty pageant. Her interest in fashion peaked even more after interning in the summer of 2011 with two fashion corporations: Smythe-Levis in Toronto and Beautiful Bottoms in London. Bethel-Sears also worked as a camp counselor with the AIDS Foundation of the Bahamas in the summer of 2010, interacting with inner-city girls and sparking a passion for social entrepreneurship. Serving as a purchaser for Students of Georgetown, Inc., she was able to gain experience communicating with vendors and interacting with businesses on a daily basis.
Sucsession, founded by Bethel-Sears in July, is a business that combines her interests in style and social development by using a portion of profits to fund summer camps for less-privileged girls in the Bahamas. With the slogan "Sucsession is where Fashion & Business meet Social Development," the organization’s unique spelling emphasizes the middle four letters, SESS, as an acronym for ‘Social Entrepreneurship Sisterhood Style’." Bethel-Sears said.
"I’ve always wanted to get into fashion and use it for a good social cause and to give back to the community, and so that’s how Sucsession came about," Bethel-Sears said.
The enterprise raises money through sales at private events and on an online boutique launching Oct. 1. Over the summer, Bethel-Sears held a silent auction in the Bahamas that showcased multiple accessories on which attendees could bid. On Saturday, Sucsession will play host to a Georgetown-exclusive Bold Statement Jewelry Sale at 1419 36th St. from 1 to 3 p.m.
Bethel-Sears’ holistic development camps will deal with helping girls entering the ninth grade in four Bahaman inner-city areas: Farm Road, Bains Town, Fort Charlotte and Grands Town. While working with the AIDS Foundation in these constituencies, Bethel-Sears noticed the lack of resources and role models for young girls there. Through the summer camps, she aims to provide these girls with a safe environment and the skills and tools to become leaders.
"We’ll look at anger management, communication skills, resume building, hygiene, health [and] beauty. I am having a mentor-mentee program, so women in college and graduating from high school will be mentors to these grade-nine girls, and having women in different leadership positions from accounting to fashion to law come in and speak to the girls about how they became successful," Bethel-Sears said.
Managing time between the business and a hectic class schedule proves a difficult task for Bethel-Sears, exacerbated by the fact that she lacks a permanent support team in D.C..
"While I was home, I had my [family … a phone call away or a drive away, but coming to school and not really having that support system has been tough, but my friends and acquaintances here have stepped in and offered their help … really helping me make my dream a reality," Bethel-Sears said.
In the near future, Bethel-Sears would like to attract more diverse fashion designers for her online boutique and to have a successful summer camp launch in the Bahamas this July.
"I would like the camps to expand throughout the Bahamas and then even take it to different countries," she said. "To be able to take a pilot like this and transplant it in another country and help women there become leaders within their own community is something I’d love to see, but that’s 10 years down the line."