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Schwarzenegger's Teenage Son Starts Business with Charitable Focus

Posted: 03/15/2011 12:24 pm

Doing business and philanthropy with style. That's the idea behind Project360, a clothing and accessories retail business founded by Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver), his childhood friend Nick Sheinberg, and their business partner, Kimberly Barth. At the 2008 California Women's Conference, an annual conference founded and organized by Maria Shriver, Patrick and Nick sold rubber bracelets to raise money for charity. Kimberly met them, liked the idea, and thought they could expand -- and thus, Project360 was born. The idea is simple: for every article of apparel they sell, they donate a percentage of the sale to charity. From bracelets to hoodies, a number of celebrities have already been spotted wearing the brand, with Project360 merchandise sold at major retailers like Bloomingdale's, Henri Bendel, and Fred Segal and of course on their website, www.teamproject360.com. I recently sat down with the young entrepreneurs at a pizza parlor in Beverly Hills to learn more about the business and their philosophy that "helping your fellow man never goes out of style."

What is Project360?
KB: Project360 is a line of inspirational clothing and accessories. Everything has an inspirational message that reflects a global cause that we donate to. It's meant to inspire and raise awareness for different causes that we're affiliated with.

And how does it work?
KB: Basically, for every product sold, we donate 10% of the sales. Additionally, when launching a new collection, we donate a generous amount of money and generally do some kind of big project that also raises awareness. For instance, when we [launched] the new collection "Unforgettable," we donated $20,000 before the percentage.

How did you come up with the name Project360?
NS: We liked the name because not only did we want to make a clothing line, but we wanted to have a meaning that we're a project to help people around the world so that's why we chose the 360 part.

Now, why fashion as the vehicle for social awareness?
NS: Well, fashion is something anyone can relate to. Obviously everyone wears clothing [chuckling,] so that's the soft spot we found.

Who designs the apparel and accessories?
KB: It's something we all do together. We kind of come up with a concept, they generally start around the cause and the word or the symbol that's going to reflect it and then from there... we ask 'What can we do to make it stand out? What's going to make it special?' And it's just a slow process, a lot of brainstorming. Everyone kind of gives their little bit of input and then we get a final product from there.

A lot of your pieces come with a motivational message -- in many cases a single word -- that's connected to a cause. How do you choose that word?
KB: Those words take weeks of time and a lot of thought. Generally, we'll have a cause and a big list of words that kind of express the feeling behind it and we'll run it by a lot of people, to see what's the most fitting, what would look good written on a T-shirt, what people would want to wear, because all of that is definitely part of the process. And then we find the word that's perfect, like "Unforgettable" for Alzheimer's.

What charities do you support and how do you go about choosing them?
PS: We work with a variety of charities. We started out a few years ago, me and Nick, working for the Long Beach Battered Women's Shelter. And when [Kimberly] came on, we tried to focus on a bunch of different charities. We went on to do Best Buddies and then the Alzheimer's Association. We did Save the Children and Rally for Kids with Cancer. We choose it depending on what we really feel is necessary, what really needs to be helped out, what needs awareness spread. And we all have different issues that we really focus on.

Your merchandise has been worn by a number of celebrities. People like Eva Longoria and Reggie Bush. What do you think makes your apparel so popular?
PS: Well, it's pretty popular I'd say because if a piece of apparel looks good, if it has a good style to it, people are going to wear it. Then they see that this piece of clothing also benefits charities [and] it's helping to spread awareness. [The apparel is] cool looking and at the same time they feel good wearing it because it's helping others. And I think that's why a lot of people are starting to like our company and our apparel.

You've been able to partner with some pretty prominent retailers, like Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel. To what do you attribute your success, given that you're less than two years into this?
KB: I would definitely say it's hard work and perseverance. Anytime it seems like one avenue is not going to work, we take another one. The three of us are always out there working hard, we have a great support system from our families and there's really no answer "no." Again, because it is such a positive line and because there's such a great message behind it, everyone seems to be really behind it. We've been very lucky with stores and everyone wanting to support the brand.

You've said that each of your mothers has a role in Project360. What is the nature of their involvement?

PS: Not only our mothers, but our whole families. All of our families help us out a lot, whether it's my sisters doing interviews with us or my little brother and his friends going around with the rubber bracelets and selling. They're all extremely involved.

What is the 360 Social Network on your website?
NS: Whether you buy a product or not, you can go on our site and sign up to be within our news feeds. If you sign up, you'll get sent e-mail blasts and see new products. You'll get the inside scoop before the general public does.

Patrick, you and Nick are juniors in high school. How do you guys juggle the demands of school and extracurricular activities, etc. with your work with Project360?
PS: Time management. If you plan out your day correctly and you manage your time... as annoying as the term is of time management and how everyone says it, it really does help.

What do each of you see as the future of Project360?
PS: In recent months, we've wanted to start a men's line and we're reaching that goal. We just want to keep building up our company and we hope to get into bigger department stores and maybe go worldwide. We want to spread awareness; we really want people to learn about these charities and help them. We want to educate the public through fashion.
KB: Every day, new opportunities come and I couldn't even tell you where I think we'll be because I don't think I could even conceptualize how big things will be.
NS: I think that we just overcame Step 1 of many steps, which is the hardest step and that's building the foundation. I can't really say what the future's going to be like but I hope it's big and I hope it stays successful.

How can our readers get involved? How can they contribute?
KB: The easiest thing to do is join the My 360 Social Network where we can let you know what's going on, where we're holding events, what we're involved with, and how you can give back.

The founders of Project360 would like to offer a special promotion for HuffPost readers. For the next month, use the code "HuffPost360" on their website for a 10% discount. The first five customers to use this code will also win a bracelet as a gift with purchase. Enjoy!

 

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