For many people, a job is just a job. But Adam Morris wanted something more. He wanted to do something that would not only challenge him, but also help people and effect measurable change in the community.
Today, Adam is fulfilling this vision as the head of Wild Tiger Tees, a non-profit t-shirt company that employs youth experiencing homelessness and provides them with valuable working skills. And, while Adam’s journey toward his goal technically began in Columbus, the pieces for his idea actually started coming together in Cleveland.
“I heard about Columbus GiveBackHack during startup weekend, but I wasn’t able to go,” Adam said. “I was disappointed that I missed it, so when I heard there was one in Cleveland, I decided to make the trip.”
However, Adam didn’t sit on his hands in between the two events. Instead, he began hosting a podcast that focused on non-profits and creating social change.
“After I missed Columbus GiveBackHack, I started a podcast called ‘People Helping People,’” Adam explained. “It’s about local social enterprises, and while I was doing that, I came up with the idea for Wild Tiger Tees.”
At its core, Wild Tiger Tees is a screen-printing t-shirt company that employs youth experiencing homelessness and supplies them with a beneficial working experience. Additionally, Wild Tiger Tees has partnered with the Star House, a 24/7 drop-in center for the homeless aged 14-24. This organization helps provide these individuals with a safe space, as well as mentorship opportunities, stabilizing resources, and the simple opportunity to talk to someone about their lives.
“The Star House has been awesome,” Adam said, “They’ve given us a great space to work, and really helped us reach these youths in Columbus. Our screen-printing equipment is portable right now, but we’ll be a permanent fixture there soon, and we’ll be adding more printing stations.”
Understandably, Adam is very happy with the growth of Wild Tiger Tees, and cites GiveBackHack as one of the reasons he was able to attain his goal.
“GiveBackHack was one of the most impactful experiences I had,” Adam said, reflecting on his time at the event. “It taught me so much about what it was going to take to make this thing work. The push to go out and talk to people, while only having 48 hours to really put something together and validate the idea really stuck with me.” Adam continued, “User validation was a big thing and being forced to do it under a time crunch was completely transformational. The entire experience was great at getting me prepared to start a pilot in just a few months.”
While Adam is proud of his work, he’s not ready to call himself satisfied. There’s still quite a bit of work to do.
“We spent most of last year refining our business model, and this year we’ll be focusing on sales.” Adam explained. “Going forward, we know the demand is there with the youth. They really like it. Our bulk orders always need labor to print, so the work is always there, and this year we’re going to start a trial that lets them design and sell their own t-shirt art that they can earn commission on. We’re also looking into getting them involved in the sales aspect as well, which is a skill that can transition them into a variety of jobs.”
To see Adam’s hard work for yourself, visit wildtigertees.com. You can also listen to him talk about helping the community and other social causes as the host of the People Helping People podcast. And, if you’d like to help, be sure to send him a message. “We’re currently looking for marketing, sales, and retail people,” he said.
As the 2019 Columbus GiveBackHack approaches this coming April 26th, Adam would recommend it to anyone who is looking to become a community leader or wants to create an impact for those facing important social issues.
“The way you get to mix and interact with people from different backgrounds and meet people that can show you how to create something is invaluable,” Adam said. “It’s a great way to get plugged into your local social and nonprofit networking landscape, and it can help you find and understand what you truly want to do with your life if you really want to make a difference.”