Merit Brings Together Fashion and Education in Ann Arbor and Detroit

By Noelle Sciarini on February 19th, 2014 / Comments

Every 26 seconds, a child drops out of school in America. This statistic is the starting block of a new entrepreneurial venture called Merit. Created by former University of Michigan basketball captain David Merritt, Merit is a cause-based fashion brand with direct ties to education efforts in Detroit, Michigan.

A brand-new website was launched today to showcase the fantastic clothing options that Merit offers. These designs are the result of collaboration between Merritt, a group of graphic designers and Nzimiro Oputa, a top 3 finalist on NBC’s “Fashion Star.”  The website also gives consumers an in-depth look into where their proceeds are going.

“It’s a win-win for our customers,” Merritt said. “They look good…but also feel good being able to track the impact of their purchase with our students.”

According to Merritt, the company is the result of a lot of “hard work, customer feedback, and a desire to change purchase impact through stylish fashion.”

Not only does 20% of every purchase fund college scholarships for under-served youth, the company also plays a role in another venture started by Merritt: the FATE program. Designed as an enrichment and educational program, FATE is formed by a group of high school students from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in the city of Detroit. Now in its second year, the program currently has 23 tenth grade students enrolled. It gives the students exposure to a college setting and provides them with mentors for all four years of high school. The program also includes workshop opportunities with partners ranging from the University of Michigan to Google and Zingerman’s.

In addition to the new website, there is also a storefront in Ann Arbor on South University Street, and there are plans in the works to open up an additional store in Detroit.

“We really think we will be a strong e-commerce player, but we want to supplement that with a select number of retail outlets and collaborations with like-minded retailers,” Merrit said.

Merit also has a student organization component at U of M, which provides mentors for the students in the FATE program and is working to create an additional internship program. This team of passionate college students would assist Merritt with getting the word out, whether it’s through social media outreach, an engaging YouTube video, or an infographic.

“We are really focused on creating sharable content through social media and also teaming up with great designers and great brands, creating awesome product collaborations and bringing more awareness to our brand,” Merritt said.

It certainly shows. Visit their new website today for more information about Merit, the FATE program, and more, or stop into their storefront at 1113 South University Street in Ann Arbor.

About the Author

Noelle Sciarini

Noelle Sciarini is a recent graduate from Michigan State University. Now an Ann Arbor resident, she fills her spare time with reading, writing, and the occasional road race. Find her on Twitter: @NoelleSci.