Radford alumnus hosts experience for students
Radford University students experienced a living-learning classroom when Jamey Brittingham and Derek Garrett visited Radford’s campus Sept. 22 – 23.
Department of Design Chair Holy Cline invited Brittingham ‘11 to campus for the annual Career Prep Conference. While making the visit, Brittingham took the opportunity to give a hands-on experience to Radford University students.
“We wanted to talk with students about the environmental impact of the fashion industry,” said Brittingham. “We want to lessen the demand for new clothing by repurposing vintage clothing. What better way than to show them?”
Brittingham, a former fashion design and art major at Radford University, started her own business with Garrett, called MamerSass.
“We really are an eco-friendly retailer,” Brittingham said. “All our business cards are made from scrap pieces of leather from old jackets. We’ve cut all the paper and plastic out of retail, which is really challenging. We’re really trying to be zero waste. Even our shopping bags are made from old T-shirts. It’s an alternative to fast-fashion.”
The name for the alternative company came from Brittingham’s childhood.
“My brother called me ‘mamey-sass’ and I’ve been “mamer” since I was a kid,” Brittingham said. “It just stuck. Mamersass is me. With the store, Derek and I are adding sass to old things.”
The reasoning behind bringing the mobile store to Radford’s campus was simple to both Brittingham and Garrett. The mobile store also allowed students to receive a tour and a behind-the-scenes look at MamerSass.
“We’re hoping that it starts a dialogue amongst young people," Brittingham said. "They can be environmentally-friendly and not be afraid of starting their own business at a young age,” Brittingham said.
“Starting a business is risky, but it’s not as hard as people think,” Brittingham continued. “Starting your own business has its challenges. You have to be willing to work harder than the competition and find resources and ways to set yourself apart from the crowd.”
Brittingham covered some of her personal fears about operating a business.
“Knowing what you want to stay true to and how you want to be perceived,” Brittingham said. "I’m not going to compromise just because it would be faster and cheaper.
“It’s difficult when you go to pay your bills,” Brittingham continued. “Because you know there are faster and more affordable ways to make goods. But we don’t want to be a part of the waste. We want to be part of the solution. We won’t compromise our mission out of financial fear.”
Brittingham’s motivation behind opening a business was clear.
“I want to make what we’re doing meaningful,” Brittingham said. “I want to leave a legacy.”