HUSTLE FILE #69: Ross Lohr


NAME: Ross Lohr

OCCUPATION: Executive Director and Founder of NTC (www.NewtonTanzania.org), Co-founder of Project Repat (www.ProjectRepat.org)

LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts

WHAT’S YOUR HUSTLE: My hustle is repatriating amazing t-shirts that were prematurely castaway to the developing world, re-branding them, and selling them in support of non-profits changing lives in the places from where the shirts were repatriated. Sound crazy? It is. But it’s also working. Every year, millions of t-shirts are donated to the Goodwill. About 95% of those shirts are sold to t-shirt middlemen and shipped to places like Kenya and Tanzania and put up for sale in massive secondhand markets. That’s why you find incredible American shirts in Africa, including the shirt worn by a fruit and vegetable vendor in Nairobi, Kenya that inspired the Project Repat concept. The shirt read, “I danced my ass off at Josh’s bar mitzvah.” Endless shirts just like that one end up in developing world markets, and Project Repat agents already traveling in the developing world find the hippest shirts out there and bring them home in the extra room in their suitcases. Each shirt is truly unique, with an authentic story to tell. Not to mention they are double heroes, supporting local markets in the developing world and non-profits doing great work in those countries. (And yes, we wash them twice!).

WHAT DOES YOUR HUSTLE MEAN TO YOU: I’m the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called NTC that improves educational opportunities for children in Tanzania. As a small non-profit, it’s always a challenge to secure funding to sustain operations and keep doing work that is so important to the communities with which we partner. Project Repat is a revenue generating operation for small NGO’s like NTC. In addition, Project Repat is an amazing way to educate our fans and customers about the amazing path that their old clothing takes after being deposited at the Goodwill. The world is absolutely interconnected in every way, and Project Repat is a really cool way of demonstrating how purchasing decisions here in the United States can impact far away places like Kenya and Tanzania. It also leverages a new demographic in fundraising and philanthropy, attracting a younger supporter than we’ve been unable to attract in traditional fundraising methods for our non-profit. Buy an awesome t-shirt and support a good cause at the same time? Absolutely. We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign this month to make a documentary about Project Repat and the secondhand markets in Africa. You can support us and get an amazing t-shirt by clicking here.

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONLY THREE TOOLS FOR YOUR HUSTLE, WHAT WOULD THEY BE: 1. An incredible team of people committed to our idea that will pull out all the stops to support what we are doing. 2. Dedication and ambition (alright, that’s two in one…but they go together so well). 3. 100% confidence in the value of what we’re doing,

A WORD OF ADVICE TO WANNABE HUSTLERS IN YOUR FIELD: Take your idea and absolutely run with it, as far and fast as you can. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of what people might say or how they will decide to criticize you (because they absolutely will, no matter what). It will take 10 people to tell you what a terrible idea you have before one person truly believes in you and then once your idea gains some leverage you can go back to those 10 people and really let them have it (although chances are they’ll have already jumped on the bandwagon anyway).

The Project Repat Kickstarter Video from Project Repat on Vimeo.

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About Shannon Flaherty

Writer. Creative. Freelancer. Freebird.
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