The Autism Speaks U Chapter at the University of Michigan’s co-founders (Maressa Criscito & Alex Lewisohn) interviewed collegiate entrepreneurs and twins, Samantha and Morgan Elias. These 21 year old sisters are the brains behind The Vintage Twin. Samantha, a member of Autism Speaks U at the University of Michigan, and Morgan, who attends New York University, recently hosted a trunk show on August 1 in New York City, donating over $550 to Autism Speaks.
The Vintage Twin, which was founded and self-financed in August 2009 with a trunk show in the their mother’s basement, is now a burgeoning brand; the first to use only recycled materials in creating one-of-a-kind original designs. Recreating vintage clothing, home goods, and accessories, TVT is a retail revolution offering people a style that is all their own.
1. Do you have a personal connection to autism? If so, please explain.
Our eldest sister is a speech pathologist and we have each shadowed her in working with children with autism. More close to home, our first cousin has asperger syndrome and we have watched him grow and overcome the hardships of staying in a specialized mainstream school.
2. Why do you feel it is important to host events for Autism Speaks?
Autism affect MILLIONS of people on varying degrees and the numbers only seem to be growing. Awareness must be raised, but more importantly, funds must be raised to better the quality of life for those who live a lifetime with it, rather than many medicinal fundraisers that are focused on fatal diseases.
3. How did you become involved with the Autism Speaks U program?
My best friends (Maressa & Alex) started it at The University of Michigan!
4. What other events have you hosted for Autism Speaks or other charities in the past?
We have previously donated to Project Kids Worldwide.
5. Why is it important for college students to be educated about autism?
Autism is EVERYWHERE and not going anywhere fast. We need to be aware, able to coexist and assist people in assimilating despite their social challenges.
6. What kind of impact can the fashion world have on spreading autism awareness?
As the brand grows and we continue to have events benefiting Autism Speaks U, our fan bases can combine to not only raise money for the cause, but also to spread awareness within the vast world of fashionistas and fundraisers.
7. What advice do you have for other students who are also interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
START. Whether it’s selling out of your closet or opening a store, start now!
8. What are your future plans for your business? Any specific designers/trends or events your fans should keep an eye out for?
Our website is going to be an awesome destination for affordable unique wears for ALL.
9. What was the biggest challenge that you faced during the creation of your business? How did you overcome it?
The website. We raised enough money to afford creating an in-house studio that will fill our website with hundreds of items daily.
10) Would you be interested in hosting other events with Autism Speaks in the future?
DEFINITELY- namely in Ann Arbor and also online. Last month, supporters were able to save 10% on their purchase with 10% of the proceeds going back to Autism Speaks U.
College students, faculty and alumni can get involved with our college program, Autism Speaks U, by visiting www.AutismSpeaks.org/U. Autism Speaks U works with college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.