Monica Swope

Monica Swope

Owner of Monica Swope

Chicago IL |

What does your business do?

LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel consists of limited edition fashion T-shirts (and other items coming soon such as sweatshirts, hoodies, children's apparel, phone cases, totes, pillows, and canvas art) that include unique minimalist designs that cleverly represent statements regarding passion-driven learning. As a socially conscious enterprise, a portion of the profits from sales will be donated to organizations committed to changing the educational landscape. Organizations that the company considers for funding are in a variety of fields and support learners of all ages. For more information about LEARNtheBrand Impact apparel, please see our promotional video:

How would you use the grant money?

If awarded Idea Café Small Business grant in the amount of $1000.00, I would like to take my business to the next level by engaging in a variety of activities to connect and engage Chicago communities to our education rebranding efforts. The kick off community engagement activity that we would like to carry out in Summer 2016 will be transforming a public plaza in Chicago into a learning focused pop up shop. In this space, we will not only vend LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel items, but invite visitors to participate in engaging learning experiences to make the notion of meaningful learning more personal and enriching to potential shop visitors. Some proposed scheduled activities may include seminars, film screenings and post-film discussions, guest speakers, how-to sessions and other learning-focused activities. We desire to use a prefabricated micro retail kiosk installed in a high volume public space to provide a short-term pop up retail platform called Boombox. Boombox combines features of pop-up shops and festival booths. Boombox has partnered with the City of Chicago Activate! Initiative, in which the goal is to ‘transform underutilized public plazas into positive catalysts.’ Being part of such an initiative is a great desire for LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel’s community engagement goal. By providing an innovative transitional retail space at weekly rates of $500.00, the space becomes both a community attraction as well as the most affordable alternative to a storefront or other shop options that require a greater capital commitment. For more information about Boombox, go to the following website:

In addition to allocating $500.00 for the weekly rental rates, a portion of the funds will go towards investing in paid digital marketing approaches (i.e., post boosts and sponsored ads ($50.00), promotional materials such as buttons, pamphlets, flyers and posters ($100.00), sample apparel items ($300.00) and supplies for learning activities scheduled throughout the week ($50.00).

What would the grant enable you to do that you can't now?

Currently, the profits received from the sales of LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel are allocated for legal fees to copyright collection designs, securing sample apparel items for the collection photo shoot(s), photo shoot photographer and photo editing, vending booth fees at bazaars and arts fairs throughout the year and to fund the organization(s) identified by a voting process.

Without possible funding from Idea Café Small Business grant, we will not be able to have the funds needed to include a community connection and engagement component to our business plan for 2016. We will not have the funds needed to rent the desired pop-up space and secure the necessary materials needed to successfully execute our proposed authentic learning pop-up shop. Being able to engage the community around topics regarding learning allows us to take our rebranding message beyond wearing t-shirts to a level whereas people are able to experience passion-focused and transformative learning experiences within their local community.

If Idea Cafe's Grant helps your biz reach greater success, how will you "pay it forward" to help others in some way?

The primary goal of LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel is to use the capital generated for a cause, such as rebranding the perception of learning and education, to fund organizations that are committed to changing the educational landscape. Because these organizations tend to focus more so on passion-driven learning they do not have access to the same funding sources as textbook companies or educational testing providers. The money that they receive from each collection enables them to continue to provide transformative learning experiences to learners of all ages. The ability to provide greater visibility and connect and engage the community in our education rebranding efforts is essential to have a movement motivated focus. Therefore, carrying out our social entrepreneurship goals for LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel.

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