First of all, thank you.
If you're reading this right now you may be a newcomer, you may have heard about this thing called Rendered for a while, and you may be somewhere in-between. Regardless, I'm glad you're here. I'd like to take some time to non-humbly air out my business's achievements over the very notable year of 2020. Join me on this journey.
First, we were accepted into the Bethesda Green Accelerator in January of 2020. Check out our profile here: https://bethesdagreen.org/be-green-business/innovation-lab/portfolio-companies/rendered-inc/
Bethesda Green is a sustainable urban ecosystem that enhances green living, ensures environmental protection, and facilitates growth of responsible businesses. Bethesda Green works to address environmental challenges locally by creating a sustainable, green community, built collaboratively through citizen engagement, environmental education, government partnership and innovative business development.
Through this program, we received a lot of necessary guidance. Patty Simonton was a big supporter of me and my business throughout the entire journey, from the very beginning- allowing me to be the youngest Black woman ever in the program. Another special shout out to their phenomenal executive director, Adam Roberts. His words on the Black Lives Matter movement published in June of 2020 really touched me.
Between January and March (pre-pandemic), I was coming into the Bethesda Green office 3-4 times a week to work hard on what I knew was going to be an amazing 2020 for (then) Rendered Inc.- one of the tips I got was to drop the inc since we don't plan on incorporating 🤣. I was able to plan and execute a number of goals necessary for my business's longevity. I made a brand new business plan and executive summary. I also created the Rendered Box and learned loads of important business stuff.
Mid-March, the pandemic hit. We thought it was important to remember that cleansing your space is important when keeping a sound heart and mind. To bring some clarity to a time of uncertainty we hosted a Closet Clean Out challenge. Our followers used this challenge as an opportunity to declutter and let go of the pieces that no longer fit their style.
Then, the coronavirus really hit and we responded. We published 4 articles to our blogsite about our response to the pandemic and it's impact on the environment
Apr 7, 2020 - Sustainability in the Time of COVID-19
April 9, 2020 - Could Coronavirus Spark a Sustainable Fashion Awakening?
April 13, 2020 - What we know—and need to know—about sustainable fashion
April 14, 2020 - Rendered Inc.'s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
We then pivoted to making custom-sewn facemasks out of the remaining selection of clothes we had in stock and organic cotton. Crazy idea, I know. But... it worked. I actually didn't know how to sew before this, I practiced and gave away the first 30 to local restaurants around my house, like halfsmoke (who got me featured in eater DC). On April 15th, (after weeks of trial and error) I sold my first facemask. They were a hit. I sold like 500 (literally) before we even got to the summer of 2020. But I couldn't have done this with just my social media network. On May 11th, I launched FacemaskDC.com (also on instagram at @FacemaskDC) which is a yelp-like website, created as an easy way to connect people that need masks to small businesses providing them, including individuals looking to donate/sell mask. I was able to get featured for this project on NBC News by Emmy award-winning Shomari Stone, shout out to that amazing Black man btw! I was able to make my own promotional video for the project with my roommate, check it out here. On June 10th, 2020 I was featured in Maryland Today in an article named 'Masked Crusader'. Lol.
While it may seem like facemasks and websites are a little too far removed from Rendered's mission, I'd like to remind you of it myself- as the founder.
Rendered is working to promote sustainability
At the same time we were working hard to vend the masks, our followers stayed entertained with our weekly episodes of #RenderedWednesdays, where throughout the month of May and July 2020, Kelli and I educated anyone who stumbled upon our page about topics ranging from Fashion Agriculture and the importance of shopping consciously, to living a minimalist lifestyle. We talked about Black-owned businesses and exactly how we wanted to see the system change. Check out the videos here. In the month of July, I created the Rendered Intern Experience program and invited my first set of four American University students to work under me, thanks to Bethesda Green.
After this project ended, I decided to go back to school for my last semester to get my degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. The same exact time I made this decision, the country erupted in a civil unrest. I took my three (3!!!) summer classes while my friends marched outside. I hosted conversations on racial justice from my kitchen table on instagram live throughout the months of May and July 2020 to keep the attention on Black Lives.
On July 25th, 2020- I helped organize a protest against Hate and Police Brutality at my school: The University of Maryland, College Park. More than 200 students, faculty, staff, and administrators came out (in a pandemic mind you). Find out all the information on Black Terps Matter here and read the 2020 Wrapped here. A huge huge huge thank you to everyone who purchased a Black Terps Matter x Rendered sweatshirt, ya'll paid my rent in December!
I know it seems like I skipped a few months but that's what happens when you're an activist. Some highlights of the last few months of 2020 are as follows: We were spotlighted by Black Girl Ventures. We hosted our first free book giveaway with Value Village (below). We designed, produced and fulfilled our first and second ever shirts #ProtectUMD. Aside from the business, I successfully completed all of my classes in December of 2020 and received a Student Impact Scholarship from Wells Fargo for my work on the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. I was also named an Afro.com top 25 under 35 D.M.V. Activist. I quietly launched my own website, http://sabaspeaking.com/ somewhere in the middle all of the craziness in 2020 too, but that's a story for another day. Talk soon.
Rendered Founder & CEO
Thank you to my mentors through Bethesda green: Polly, Danielle, and Jon. Thank you to my professors for dealing with my protesting self, especially Groff and Kogelmann. Thank you to Jasmyne and our local Value Village #5116 in Adelphi, MD. Thank you to Prince George's County and to Maryland. Thank you to my amazing family members. Thank you for paving the way: John Lewis, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Breonna Taylor, Alex Trebek, Chadwick Boseman, Oluwatoyin Salau and more.