By: Nick Santangelo

"I feel like a warrior, like I can take on the world."

It’s a sentiment Avi Loren Fox hears all the time from women who take up the mantle. A mantle is a loose cloak or hood, but it can also be a symbolic passing down of responsibility from one person to another. For Fox, the founder of clothing line Wild Mantle, both definitions are equally important.

“Boosting your confidence and knowing that you're wearing something that will represent your passion and your legacy and that you can hand on to someone else, whether or not you do,” says Fox, “is a really powerful concept to participate in.”

Fox, CLA ’10, founded Wild Mantle in 2013 knowing that she wanted sustainability and empowerment to be core brand pillars. The former environmental studies major and geography and urban studies minor buys sustainable and ethical materials for her mantles whenever possible. And while she admits she’s “not perfect” at it, she votes with the company’s and its customers’ dollars by purchasing materials like organic cotton when possible.

you're wearing something that will represent your passion and your legacy

That particular mantle of environmental responsibility is one she first took up when she was still a College of Liberal Arts student. While at Temple University, Fox founded a nonprofit named Narberth Greens after her hometown of Narberth, Pa. Fox received support for the nonprofit through Temple’s Honors Program, of which she was a member while a student.

The nonprofit was successfully able to lobby Narberth’s mayor to sign a climate protection agreement, conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and create a climate action plan. It also created a number of internships for Fox’s fellow Temple students and won her the Morris K. Udall scholarship.

“Looking back on it, I treated college much like I treat entrepreneurship,” recalls Fox. “You think of what needs to be done next to fulfill your vision, and you line up the resources to make it happen.

“I was an active participant in building my education, with planning the curriculum and figuring out how to connect inside the classroom with outside the classroom. Ultimately, I believe learning how to build that bridge between school and community, which was fostered by the Honors Program, really prepared me well to be an entrepreneur.”

For today’s would-be entrepreneurs just beginning their college journeys, Fox says the best thing they can do is stop waiting and start laying the groundwork now. They should build a network and find a mentor like Fox did in Ruth Ost, the senior director of Temple’s Honors Programs. With the help of their networks and mentors, students have an opportunity to start thinking about how to turn their ideas into businesses or nonprofits before graduation.

Those who wait until after graduation will quickly discover, as Fox did, that life will begin changing for them. There are bills to pay and responsibilities to attend to.

I treated college much like I treat entrepreneurship

To that end, the CLA alumna was fortunate that she was able to successfully launch her first business out of college as a photographer. It’s something that she’s been able to continue doing part time since she started Wild Mantle. Her photography skills also became handy for doing promotional shoots of her products and support herself while she funded Wild Mantle’s launch.

“It's still a very small, relatively speaking, but my goal starting out was just to exist and to be in the black after five years, which I’m proud to say we are,” she explains. Since I started, I've made multiple attempts at scaling it, but whenever it's been translated into a more commercial version, it's lost the essence of it and felt like the wrong direction, and so I've never gone through with those plans.

“That's meant turning down investors sometimes or just having to make really hard decisions to maintain the integrity of the brand over an alternative path. So it’s very much where I had hoped, in the sense of my original expectations, and I feel like it has a really good foundation for me to allow it to grow sustainably over time.”

To learn more about Avi Loren Fox or Wild Mantle, follow the CLA alumna on Instagram.

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