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Williams student shows a hoodie can be more than just a hoodie

August 12, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Abhi Ravipati has no shortage of fun and creative ideas – and an eye for design.

It has been a long simmering passion for the Dr. G.W. Williams Student who is set to begin Grade 12 this fall, but rather than waiting to flex her creative muscles back in the classroom this September, she has been doing just that over the summer and making a difference for South Asian women in the Greater Toronto Area, one hoodie at a time.

Abhi is one of several area students to benefit from the Summer Company program, spearheaded by the Region of York. The program, which is run by the York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC) on behalf of the Provincial Government, fosters youth entrepreneurship by helping select students not only launch their summer business but learn through training programs and mentorship opportunities.

Lucky students receive a grant of up to $3,000 each to bring their ideas to fruition and this year’s crop included youth looking to make their mark in everything from drone photography to hand-made fashion accessories.

“One of the main benefits of the program is that the skills they learn here can also help them out down the road should they decide to run a business,” says Vivian Ho-Tam, Small Business Consultant with the YSBEC. “For those who don’t pursue entrepreneurship, the skills they learn can help them in their academic studies and even help them manage a budget.

“This is the first time we are running the program completely virtually. In previous years, we would organize a showcase in our Administrative Centre and have the students promote their businesses, but with COVID-19 we had to adjust our approach. This year, we have a great group of students that are active, motivated and skilled.”

Through her grant, Abhi has founded, which produces custom-embroidered hoodies celebrating the rich tapestry of South Asian culture. A portion of the proceeds from each sale benefits the South Asian Women’s Centre, which provides assistance with everything from mental health to assisting survivors of sexual assault, rape and forced marriages.

“When I first [heard about this program] I had so many ideas I would love to execute and among them was my passion for representing under-represented individuals,” says Abhi. “I love making things as unique as possible and really catering to the individual. I was able to create a brand that was really celebrating South Asian culture and bringing attention to a lot of the issues South Asians have to go through that aren’t really talked about a lot.

“When I start designing, for my first ones it was about just representing all parts of South Asian culture and bringing it all together. I created a minimalistic design so it is very modern and anyone could wear it. It was about putting together Canadian and South Asian cultures and celebrating them together and showing appreciation for the fact that blending these two cultures can make beautiful things. Through that process, I come up with a couple of ideas and sometimes I will do some minimalistic designs that are one-line artwork and then I will do others with more geographic shapes and play around with it. From there, I will take it to my software so it is formatted properly for my embroidery machine and test it out through a trial and error process before I put it on my hoodie.”

Each hoodie that is produced by is made, packaged and shipped by Abhi, along with hand-written thank-you notes. She prides herself on being involved in the whole process, along with the fact that her garments are versatile and appeal to people of all ages.

She also takes pride in what she has learned through the Summer Company program, particularly through mentorship opportunities with people in the field. They have given her savvy tips on marketing, connecting with customers and audiences, bookkeeping and other essentials for a successful business. Mentors, she says, have been there for her every step of the way.

As she prepares to begin her final year at Williams, Abhi is focused on her education with a goal of attending university for business and entrepreneurship. Along the way, she hopes she can continue her business part-time as a creative outlet and a way to help.

“I value my education and after I’m finished, if I could pursue this long-term and really help make a difference among the South Asian community, it would be a dream come true,” she says. “The designs I am creating highlight the various struggles and things that South Asians have to go through in Canada. It brings a sense of representation and a sense of another voice speaking out for the issue at hand.”

By Brock Weir
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



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