Creative Souls began in a classroom in March of 2017.
Drew McNamara began his mission in a Social Entrepreneurship course at the University of Illinois during the first semester of his junior year. The professor of the course told each student to bring an idea that could make a social change in society. Drew has been involved with helping individuals with disabilities through multiple organizations for the past 10 years. For the next semester, Drew worked on an idea that would lead to the name Creative Souls. Unfortunately, the idea didn't lead anywhere at the time.
Fast forward a year and a half to Drew's second semester in his senior year...
Drew started his semester at Illini Hillel working as a social work intern. His supervisor, the Executive Director - Erez Cohen, encouraged him to make the internship his own. During the semester, Drew was able to bring Creative Souls to life with the support of Hillel. Thus far, Creative Souls has worked with seven artists from the Developmental Services Center. The big debut for Creative Souls was on April 6th at the Boneyard Arts Festival where the shoes were available for purchase and people had a chance to see the artists live. Drew graduated with a bachelors degree in social work.
The summer went by fast and Creative Souls was put on pause. When Drew arrived back on campus, he kept thinking about his dream to make this start-up a reality. A month in the semester for his masters degree for social work went by and nothing occurred. After realizing nothing was just going to happen by itself, Drew searched for opportunities to get Creative Souls going again. Fortunately, he found a start-up pitching event where he not only pitched Creative Souls with a days notice, but caught the attention of a MBA student. This MBA student worked with him throughout the semester on the business plan. Aside from the plan, they entered a business competition called the Cozad New Venture Competition. Suddenly, Creative Souls was back in the swing of things.
In March 2018, a Kickstarter campaign for Creative Souls was launched. On the site, Creative Souls raised $15,239 with 269 backers in thirty days. While this was amazing, it was short of the fundraising goal of $50,000. On Kickstarter, if you do not reach your goal you keep none of the funds received. Instead of giving up, Drew launched another campaign where he raised $10,500 for Creative Souls. He also managed to find an investor who is helping him with the other funds needed to purchase the direct-to-garment printer. This printer changes everything for the company. No longer do artists need to hand-paint on shoes. The artists can send in a design on a white sheet of paper that can be scanned and printed directly onto a shoe, shirt, etc. Now, the business can reach artists with disabilities from anywhere, which makes Creative Souls have the opportunity to make a greater impact on people with all abilities.
This all started with a simple idea to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. This has been in the making for a couple of years now, but the future of Creative Souls is near. We need your support for the future. All of the products artwork are designed by artists with disabilities with all different abilities. When you make a purchase, the artist of the design on your product chosen will earn money for their work! If you want to impact the artists and future employees of Creative Souls, please share what we are doing to your classmates, peers, friends, family, companies, etc! The more people that know about us, the bigger impact we can make - one 'Creative Soul' at a time.