Ethically produced, culturally sensitive: a UofM student’s online store serves a community and the planet
By Cecilia Fay
“I wanted to help solve a problem that is not noticed in America.” ~Lexi Grisanti
In 2017, Lexi Grisanti, a University of Memphis student, traveled the world to serve in developing nations. She worked with women and children living within poverty in Cambodia, Thailand, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Honduras. There she saw first-hand the detrimental effects of pollution.
“I witnessed poverty, brokenness, orphans, refugees, homelessness, and the hurting,” she said.
Grisanti saw an intense amount of joblessness amongst women in these countries and decided to do something about it.
“I wanted to give them a practical solution out of poverty,” she said. “I saw that they wanted to work and have jobs, and a good way to do so is to give them a micro-loan, which is a small amount of money or capital so they can start their own business.”
With employees able to create the clothing, Grisanti started her business Sol & Co, an online store dedicated to creating sustainable and fashionable basics. She discovered that most of the pollution in these countries came from the fast fashion industry.
“It is important to reduce the number of greenhouse gasses produced,” she said. “I wanted to help solve a problem that is not noticed in America.”
Grisanti was on a mission to create clothing that is better for the environment. “The Sol & Co process begins with recycling things like fishnets and plastic bottles so the waste is minimal.”
After establishing a process to create items sustainably, the search for a key market began. Grisanti reached out to friends and acquaintances through a survey. One response in particular caught her attention.
Fatema Habib, a Muslim nursing student at the UofM, responded to Grisanti’s survey with a desire for more stylish but modest clothing.
“As a Muslim, spirituality is a major and uncompromisable part of my life, and growing up, I am always trying to find tips and tricks to look confident while also being modest,” said Fatema.
According to whyislam.org, “Islam’s code of modesty extends to all aspects of one’s life, including attire. Hijab, the head-covering worn by Muslim women, is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to worship God.”
With Habib’s goal for more stylish clothing items for the Muslim community in mind, Grisanti created the Wilder Pant, a sustainable jogger that can be styled in multiple ways.
According to Sol & Co’s website, “The pants are a uni-sex jogger that is quick-dry, ethically produced, culturally sensitive, and made from 100% recycled materials. . . The lightweight material makes it easy to work out in, yet the style makes business meetings and daily life a breeze.” While Habib still has frustrations with the current fashion industry, she is thankful for Sol & Co, “I am very honored to have inspired Sol & Co to release the Wilder Pant. I’m excited for people to enjoy this pant the same way I do,” she said.
Lexi hopes to build a company that is more inclusive to all women, no matter their religion, body type, or skin color. “My dream is to create a store that tailors to the overlooked woman or to people that have different body types,” she said.
Cecilia Fay is student at the University of Memphis pursuing a degree in Public Relations. She is interested in advocacy and reading, and is passionate about writing the stories that matter. Cecilia participated in StoryBoard’s 2019 Page One Writer’s Workshop and wrote the editorial essay How the Water Flows in 2019 and Balancing a boutique with homework in 2020.
Fatema Habib is currently studying at the University of Memphis and is in the 4th year of her program. She is a first-generation daughter of immigrants who enjoys art, fashion, fitness and working within the Memphis Muslim community. Follow her on Instagram @fattoommah.
Visit thesolandco.com for more information about the company’s mission and sustainable process.