The Rapidian

Hope on their sleeves: clothing startup believes in Michigan's resilience

Driven by a passion for design and a fierce loyalty to their home state, Live. Love. Michigan. strives to make it in the clothing business and bring Michigan up with them.
Lansing-based startup Live. Love. Michigan. designs clothes for nonprofits in the state..

Lansing-based startup Live. Love. Michigan. designs clothes for nonprofits in the state.. /Live. Love. Michigan.

Style with a purpose

Live. Love. Michigan. has raised $3,000 for nonprofits in the state since December 2013. Check out their designs for the following organizations:

Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association (MIFA)

Detroit Soup

Excellence for Detroit

Life as a Zebra

Live. Love. Michigan. drew inspiration for this design from World War II-era "victory garden" posters.

Live. Love. Michigan. drew inspiration for this design from World War II-era "victory garden" posters. /Live. Love. Michigan.

The Feeding America West Michigan collection includes men's and women's designs.

The Feeding America West Michigan collection includes men's and women's designs. /Live. Love. Michigan.

Community investment is an afterthought for most companies, something they work into their business plans after they’ve gotten established. For Live. Love. Michigan. it was the founding principle.

A marine biology student at Michigan State University, Jake Prusakiewicz’s true love was graphic design, and the Dexter native wanted to use that passion to better his home state.

“He kind of got fed up with the way Michigan was being portrayed in the news. He didn’t like the bad press,” said Abigail Ehn, campaign manager for Live. Love. Michigan.’s Hold on to Hope nonprofit project and Prusakiewicz’s high school classmate. Ehn, Prusakiewicz and designer Nathan Leindecker constitute the company’s complete staff.

“He wanted to make Michigan better by recognizing people that were doing something good for the state but weren’t necessarily getting recognized for it.”

On March 17, Live. Love. Michigan. rolled out a line of shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops and bags custom-designed for Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank through Hold on to Hope. Created at no cost to the organization, each shirt will return half of its sale price to the Food Bank, funding the distribution of approximately 50 meals to food-insecure Michiganders per shirt.

Live. Love. Michigan. has raised more than $3,000 for four Michigan-based nonprofits since December.

The state’s charities could certainly use the help.

Michigan’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national average for decades. Poverty is at 16.3%, its largest city is bankrupt, and demand for food assistance is higher than ever, at least in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, where Feeding America West Michigan distributed a record-setting 25.6 million pounds of food in 2013.

The question is, why is Michigan worth fighting for?

“We really love nothing more than Michigan,” Ehn said. “It’s home. Being from Dexter, I think we both learned the … importance of a tight-knit community.

“We don’t need the bad press about Detroit being bankrupt or the lack of jobs or the housing market crash because we believe in it,” she said.

“It’s the people that are going to make the change in the schools and the economy.”

Feeding America West Michigan’s CEO Ken Estelle believes Michigan is equal to the task.

“There’s more than enough food to go around,” Estelle said. “The challenge is getting it to those in need. That’s what we’re here to do, and that’s what Hold on to Hope is going to help us accomplish.”

Visit holdontohope.org to see Live. Love. Michigan.’s line of Food Bank clothing.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

Browse