KNOXVILLE—A retailer that sells artisan goods to benefit social causes has won this semester’s Vol Court pitch competition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Chelsea Padgham, a senior in economics and founder of Style with Benefits, won first place and received $1,000 to move her business forward.
Vol Court is a speaker series and pitch competition presented by the College of Business Administration’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The goal of the program is to help people develop new business ideas and gain entrepreneurial skills. It is sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union, Launch Tennessee, Morehous Legal Group PLLC, Pershing Yoakley Associates and the UT Research Foundation.
A second-place $500 prize went to Emily Skaar, a senior in logistics, who founded an interactive online retailer that provides unique gifts.
Padgham created Style with Benefits as a way to combine a for-profit business with social consciousness. Style with Benefits is an online retailer that purchases products from artisans in developing countries and contributes a portion of the profits to smaller, often overlooked, social cause organizations in the region.
“People want products that support good causes,” Padgham said. “My business model helps the artisans in developing countries and social cause organizations here at home.”
Padgham acknowledges that similar businesses exist but feels that she can effectively compete by incorporating “Karma Points,” which reward customers and can be redeemed for future purchases.
Vol Court is offered every fall and spring semester and is open to students, faculty and the general public.