VOL. 126 | NO. 138 | Monday, July 18, 2011
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Agape North Provides Charity Through Clothing
By Houston Cofield
With a classic sense of fashion and an idea to help people in need, Joe Williams created apparel company Agape North that donates a portion of the profit made to children in Peru as well as various nonprofit organizations.
Joe Williams is founder of Agape North, an apparel company that donates a school uniform to a child in need with each shirt sold. The company is currently donating shirts to children in Peru.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
“I thought why not make a quality clothing line and give a portion of the profit we make back to the community or to someone who is in need,” he said.
The idea for Agape North started in the summer of 2010 when Williams was doing volunteer work with Germantown United Methodist Church. Williams said that after seeing young kids wearing clothes like Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines and Lacoste, he had the idea to make similar high quality clothing but use 25 percent of the profit to support charities in Memphis and North Mississippi.
With the help of Disciple Design, a local advertising company in Memphis, Williams came up with a slogan and the silhouette of a lion for his logo.
“We came up with a lion because we wanted to use an image that stood for strength and courage because you’re wearing something that is supporting giving back,” Williams said.
“Designed for you, created for others” is the statement that is printed on every Agape North shirt, a motto that embraces Williams’ vision for the company.
Williams also started the nonprofit organization known as the Agape North Foundation. All the profit made by Agape North that goes to charities and other nonprofit organizations is channeled through ANF.
The company began by giving back the proceeds to different charities such as Service Over Self, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House, to name a few. The total amount of donations has reached $2,350 over the past year and is continuing to rise with the company’s expansion.
“I really see great potential as his business grows for them to be a regular supporter of the work that we do through the profits from their company,” said Philip Walkley, executive director of SOS, who noted that promoting Agape North products in turn promotes the work being done at SOS.
Recently, Williams has modified the way Agape North will donate support to others. With every purchase made the company will be donating a school uniform for children in Peru who need an education. Williams said that some schools in Peru require a uniform to receive an education and many families in the country cannot afford to give their child a uniform.
“Now when a person buys a shirt from us you are able to know that a kid is able to go to school and get an education,” Williams said. “It is a much more tangible way of giving.”
“I thought why not make a quality clothing line and give a portion of the profit we make back to the community or to someone who is in need.”
Agape North owner
Agape North’s clothes are manufactured in Peru and that is one reason Williams feels strongly about giving back to that community. Williams said he wants to make sure that Agape North gives back first to the people who make his apparel.
Peru is home to some of the highest quality cotton in the world, said Williams, who added that many of the big-name clothing companies like Polo and Vineyard Vines produce their clothes in Peru as well.
Williams said Agape North wants to provide their customers with high quality clothing that compares to some of the fashion industry’s top clothing lines.
“Our clothes are made with just as good of quality as anyone else’s,” he said. “We didn’t skip any details.”
Oak Hall is the main retailer in Memphis that sells Agape North’s apparel, but over the past year Williams has expanded to Mississippi: Neilson’s Department Store in Oxford, Reeds Department Store in Tupelo and The Rogue and Good Company in Jackson.
As Agape North continues to grow and expand, Williams hopes to add a few more lines of clothes to his selection such as a long-sleeve button down and a golf shirt. Williams said he also wants to make sure the quality of clothes continues to be held to a high standard while continuing to give people an incentive to give back.
“By wearing us you are getting the same quality that is going to last forever,” he said, “but you’re also going to be able to help somebody else.”