Hobart College graduates Jared Shahid ’06 and Otto Foerster ’06 have recently teamed up with partner James Reilly to create Palindrome Apparel. The company launched this summer with a line of T-shirts and three non-profit partners who would benefit from their sale.
A “palindrome” is a word, sentence, or phrase that is spelled the same way forward and backward. Shahid, Foerster and company have taken this as their business’ niche and its identity: to be a forward-thinking company that gives back.
The entrepreneurs define their products as “wearable wordplay,” as the words on each T-shirt make up a palindrome. The design is also linked to the domestic, non-profit it supports. Each organization receives 20 percent of the retail revenue of the shirt dedicated to it. Palindrome Apparel [www.bypalindrome.com] currently has three T-shirts for sale:
“Lion Oil” features a sea lion barking at an oil rig, in partnership with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, a stationed subsidiary of the National Wildlife Federation which is on the front lines of the Gulf Coast clean-up initiative.
“Race Car” displays the title itself across the chest, and benefits Carbon Free Girl, a 501(c)(3) started by Leilani Münter, one of the top 10 female NASCAR drivers in the world, along with her “Eco Dream Team.” Carbon Free Girl purchases an acre of precious rain forest land for every race that Münter competes in to offset her carbon emissions.
“Yo Banana Boy” has partnered with the Yes To CarrotsTM Seed Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides grants to schools and communities to help them build gardens and promote access to healthy nutrition.
Though small now, Palindrome Apparel is looking to expand when the time is right. The company sold out of its initial order, which the partners see as an encouraging sign for the future of this forward-thinking startup. As the company grows, they will look to pair bags, shoes, hats and belts with nonprofit organizations to strengthen the Palindrome line.
While at Hobart, Shahid majored in psychology, minored in education and played squash. Foerster earned a double major in religious studies and Asian languages, played lacrosse, and studied abroad in India.