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Raising funds with fashion

February 16, 2010
By Rebecca Howard

As founder of Garden of Edith, a clothing company that donates a portion of its sales to charities in Africa, freshman Katie Hutt found a way to use her love for art and fashion to help solve problems on a global scale.

Freshman Katie Hutt.

The beginning

Katie Hutt is an art major with a double minor in political science and international development – areas of study that don’t seem to fit together at first. But when you learn more about the CSU freshman, her academic pursuits start to make more sense.

Hutt has always had a passion for art – an interest that eventually led to her love for fashion. And in 2008, she found a way to channel those passions toward something much bigger than herself.

When she was a freshman in high school, Hutt saw “Invisible Children,” a documentary about children in Uganda being abducted and forced to serve in the military. Hutt decided to learn more about the problems in Africa, and possibly find a way to help.

“It was then that I knew that God wanted to be to be in Africa and help the people over there,” Hutt said. “However I was 15 and wasn't going to be able to go to Africa any time soon so I wanted to find a way that would help the people while I was still in Colorado.”

Hutt wanted to find a way to raise money to fight poverty in Africa because “as I researched more and more about Africa I discovered that the biggest problem, the root problem, is poverty.”

Hutt knew she wanted to help but didn’t know how. Eventually, she figured out a way to do so in a way that involved her passion for art and creativity – and Garden of Edith was born.

A photo campaign image for Garden of Edith's "army of peace."

‘Army of peace’

In 2008, Hutt founded Garden of Edith, a clothing company created for the purpose of raising money to help end poverty in Africa. Hutt refers to the movement of people involved with Garden of Edith as an “army of peace” that use creativity as a means to solve world problems.

“Our ‘army of peace’ is rebuilding what an army looks like,” Hutt said. “We no longer use violence or hate, but love. We, as a community, come together to help other humans that need help.”

Garden of Edith currently only carries screen T-shirts, of which Hutt created the designs for. Eventually, Hutt wants to create a full clothing line.

“I want my entire clothing line to be 100 percent recycled materials and all hand-made,” Hutt added.

Hutt also sells original artwork created by local artists on her website. Currently, 10 percent of sales from artwork and 25 percent of all sales from clothing go to charities. Hutt works with four organizations: Invisible Children, Eyes on Africa Foundation, World Vision and Med25.

Hutt has also held four benefit events to raise money through Garden of Edith. Past events have featured fashion shows and performances by local musicians who support the organization.

Hutt held her first Garden of Edith event on her 16th birthday; instead of gifts, Hutt asked that her friends give donations. She held her most recent event on Jan. 30 at the Gallery Underground in Fort Collins. According to Hutt, she has raised over $1,200 from these four events, but hopes to increase that number significantly in years to come.

A T-shirt design from Garden of Edith.

Looking ahead

As for future plans, Hutt has quite a few. First, she’d like to own her own store where Garden of Edith clothing can be sold, although “I'm only 18 that will be a little ways out,” Hutt said.

Hutt hopes to have her full clothing line out by this summer, and is already looking at other additions to Garden of Edith.

“We hope to have a skateboard line at some point since it's another one of my passions, even if I am horrible at [skateboarding],” she said.

Hutt also hopes to eventually move to Africa, where she can help people firsthand. Most of all, she hopes that Garden of Edith will continue to grow and help the cause that she set out to contribute to in the first place.

“The most important thing to me is that we are helping people,” Hutt said. “We want our employees to be happy and love working with us, we want the people we are helping to be happy and to retain their culture, and we want our customers to enjoy our products and know that they are putting their money to something good.”