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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alumna Hayley Besheer creates MADI Apparel to help women in need

Make a Difference Intimate Apparel (MADI) donates underwear to help women all over the world.

July 8, 2014

MU alumna Hayley Besheer had already made her mark on the world with her company, Make a Difference Intimate Apparel (MADI). The start-up company, founded by Besheer in 2011, donates underwear to women in third-world countries, women’s shelters and victims of natural disasters.

“When I was near graduating from Mizzou, I found out that underwear was under-donated; I hadn’t heard that before, and thought it was important,” she said.

After graduating, the idea was always at the back of Besheer’s mind.

“I talked with a friend and thought the idea of TOMS shoes was a cool idea — the buying a pair and giving one away — and thought it was an awesome way to give back,” Besheer said.

MADI gained notable attention on the start-up crowdsourcing website Indiegogo. There, Besheer posted videos calling attention to the need for underwear donations.

MADI sells six different styles of underwear and donates a modest pair.

Currently, if they reach their Indiegogo goal of $7000 by mid July, MADI will manufacture underwear in cherry red. If they surpass their goal, they will also make pairs in a grey/nude color and a blue color. MADI has not yet finalized the cost, but it should be around $25 to $28 per pair.

Pam Besheer, Hayley’s mom, is in charge of the marketing and public relations for MADI.

“The reason for the expense is because they are made in the U.S., which costs more to manufacture,” Pam Besheer said.

The underwear is manufactured in Hemingway, South Carolina.

“It took two years to find who would produce the underwear in the U.S., because so many companies ship offshore and a lot of U.S. businesses have gone out of business,” Pam Besheer said.

When you buy a pair, you are donating a pair to someone in need, which contributes to the expense. The underwear is made of a high quality material that is organically sustainable and environmentally stable.

In developing countries such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia where sexual violence is common, the MADI website says owning a pair can “create a social barrier for women-symbolizing a sense of wealth, independence, and power, protect women from sexual violence, provide strength and confidence, and many young women in developing countries aren’t allowed to attend school during their menstrual cycles, missing 4 or 5 days of school every month of the year.”

The underwear is made from bamboo. Bamboo is organically sustainable, odor-resistant, and dries quickly, suitable for women who must hang-dry their clothes.

MADI plans to donate to shelters all over the world, including Columbia, Daytona Beach, Florida and Kansas City. MADI also plans to donate to Love-N-Care Ministries International, which works primarily in India with orphan shelters.

Pam Besheer said MADI also hopes to donate in times of need, such as instances of tornadoes or hurricanes.

Janee Hanzlick, executive director at SAFEHOME, Support for Survivors of Domestic Violence, has received donations from MADI. SAFEHOME is based right outside of Kansas City and serves victims throughout the Kansas City metro area.

“Underwear is generally one of the least donated items; most people don’t think about underwear,” Hanzlick said. “We are very grateful from the people at MADI for undertaking this creative, much needed approach to helping victims of domestic violence and providing those in need their basic dignity at shelters.”

MADI hopes to partner with large organizations in the future, and has already started with the Salvation Army Harbor House in Columbia. They also hope to enter into retail stores and grow their team.

“The more we grow, the more people we can reach and the more countries we can donate to,” Hayley Besheer said. “We’re excited to spread awareness for the need for underwear for women, spread confidence to women and make this a bigger deal.”

Hayley Besheer recently returned to MU to talk to her sorority, Kappa Delta, to promote MADI. She is planning to come back on her college tour either in late fall or winter.

“Since starting our fundraiser, we have been able to sell our products and get people more excited about giving back,” Hayley Besheer said. “Don’t be scared to start something on your own.”

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