Student’s art skills add fuel to fundraiser
As a Boy Scout and Junior Honor Society member, Chris Frewin spent a good amount of time volunteering alongside firefighters and EMTs. He admired their selfless dedication to their work and realized, even as a kid, that they didn’t get all that much recognition for their efforts. So he set out to change that.
Now 20 years old and a junior at Clarkson University, Frewin, of Burnt Hills, is laying the groundwork for a clothing line called Siren Apparel which, if all goes as planned, will raise funds for firefighters, police officers, EMTs and forest rangers across the country.
The philanthropic mechanical engineering and physics major began toying with the idea of selling clothing to benefit public servants in late summer of 2011. Since then, the idea has grown into a concrete concept that recently caught the attention of Alejandro Cremades, founder and CEO of Rock The Post, a website that generates funding for small businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits. Through Nov. 13, Siren Apparel will be featured on the site — www.rockthepost.com.
Siren Apparel caught Cremades’ eye when he came across an online blurb about the fledgling company. The brief promo had been put together by Frewin in preparation for a start-up business competition he entered this spring.
With help from faculty at the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson, and college friends Devon Jedamski, John “Freddy” Oakes and Ben Petroski, Frewin had honed his business concept, launched a website — www.sirenapparel.org — and entered the start-up business competition. He didn’t win, but was inspired by what he saw there.
“We didn’t really have anything on the table at that point. It was just an idea. Some of the other [competitors] had at least something to show and I didn’t have anything but an idea,” he said.
But his idea was one Cremades liked, and when he voiced his desire to feature Siren Apparel on Rock The Post, Frewin and friends went into high gear, sharpening their online presence and ordering prototypes of their clothing line, which so far includes T-shirts and shorts, all emblazoned with Frewin’s original artwork. One black shirt shows a simple sketch of a red hook-and-ladder truck. Above it are the words: “Roll Out The Big Guns.” Another shirt bears the image of firefighters silhouetted against a backdrop of yellow and orange flames, their arms outstretched to catch a jumping woman.
In late July, Frewin and his crew began working with the staff at Rock The Post.
“They have a whole internal process to make sure your post is perfect and looks good,” he explained.
The post, which includes a short video of Frewin describing Siren Apparel and asking for support, went live Sept. 15.
The goal is to raise $2,000 by Nov. 13.
Donors are promised rewards based on the amount of money they contribute. Frewin came up with an exclusive T-shirt design for the promotion. Other rewards include a wristband and nylon shorts, each emblazoned with the Siren Apparel logo.
If the $2,000 goal is not met by the deadline, no rewards will be sent out, and contributions will be returned to the donors, but so far, it looks like the Siren Apparel post does indeed rock. According to the Rock The Post site, as of last Monday afternoon, $1,010 in pledges had been raised.
The initial response to the post was very exciting, said Jedamski, who serves as Frewin’s technical adviser.
“Within the first hour or two, we had close to $200 and by the end of the day, we were up to $400, and most of that support wasn’t even from people in our community. It was people all across the country that just heard about us and thought it was a good cause,” he said.
If Siren Apparel reaches the $2,000 donation mark, the net proceeds will be split between several organizations. The Baltimore City Police Department will receive half, to commemorate fallen officer Forrest Taylor. Four fire departments fighting forest fires in the West and Midwest will divide the remainder of the proceeds.
Once people start to sport his apparel in public, Frewin hopes the concept will spread like wildfire. If the venture does take off, he’ll have just one major worry: “The hard part is picking what fire department or police department to support, because there are so many,” he said.
How to help
To support Siren Apparel:
Visit www.rockthepost.com and search for “Siren Apparel.” All pledges must be made by Nov. 13. If Siren Apparel raises $2,000 by that date, donors will receive the following rewards:
For $10 or more — thank-you note and Wildfire Wristband bearing the Siren Apparel logo
For $30 or more — thank-you note, Wildfire Wristband and a T-shirt bearing the Siren Apparel logo
For $60 or more — thank-you note, Wildfire Wristband, T-shirt and a pair of nylon shorts, all bearing the Siren Apparel logo
If $2,000 is not raised by Nov. 13, all donations will be returned to supporters and Siren Apparel will not send out any rewards.