March 24, 2016 9:00AM
A fashion show tonight (Thursday, March 24) at Pittsburg State University aims to fight poverty and improve lives around the world.
The “Pants With A Purpose” event, which takes place at 7 p.m. in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of the Overman Student Center, will feature fair-trade items that are made in villages around the world.
The fashion show is hosted by students in Pitt State’s Enactus group, and they said the purpose for the event is to raise money for and awareness of serious global poverty issues.
One of the main highlights of the event will be pants designed by a local company and produced by women in Cambodia, a country three Pitt State Enactus students visited over spring break.
One of the students, Emily Vue, never thought she’d spend her first college spring break experience in a place formerly known as the “killing fields.” But when she and two other members of Enactus group were presented the opportunity to “make a real difference in the world,” they jumped at the chance.
“Cambodia wasn’t really a place I thought I’d go for spring break,” said Vue, a freshman at Pitt State. “But the chance to truly help change people’s lives sounded better to me than going to the beach.”
Vue, along with Enactus members Nathan Diddle and Katie Graham, traveled to the Asian country of Cambodia over spring break with Krista Thomason, founder of Hepz Apparel. Thomason founded Hepz last year as a way to help protect Cambodian women from the country’s rampant sex trafficking operations by providing employment opportunities.
Through Hepz, Cambodian women are employed sewing and constructing pants that are designed by Thomason. The money they make allows them to provide food and other necessities for their families. Enactus has helped Hepz with marketing, web design and other aspects of the business.
The overall goal of Hepz, Thomason said, is to help give women in Cambodia a pathway to out of poverty and to help them avoid becoming susceptible to sex trafficking.
“Purchasing fairly traded items or items made by a socially responsible business gives the opportunity for a person to receive a fair wage while being employed in a dignified manner,” Thomason said. “When you purchase these comfortable and stylish pants, you are being part of a positive global change.”
During the spring break trip to Cambodia, the Pitt State students met the women who produce the pants and saw first-hand how their work with Hepz is helping families in Cambodia.
“Through Enactus, we help Krista with the Hepz website and help her with marketing,” Diddle said. “We were really inspired by her mission and are more than happy to help. The trip to Cambodia was extremely eye-opening because it showed us what it really means to live in poverty and without basic needs that we take for granted.
“I know I’m never going to complain again about having to go to class or having a busy schedule,” he said. “It’s hard to complain about the same old dining hall food after you’ve met kids who don’t even get one meal a day.”
Vue described the experience as “life changing.”
“We met so many amazing people over there,” Vue said. “I can’t even put it into words, really. They live with so little. They have so little. And yet they’re all so happy and friendly. They treated us very well and were so thankful for what we were doing. I’ll never forget that. That experience taught me to be more thankful for what we have here, because we really do have so much.”
Thomason said she appreciates the work Pitt State’s Enactus students have put into helping Hepz grow.
“Enactus at PSU has really been a tremendous supporter of the project, and I can’t thank them enough for wanting to be involved,” she said. “I know I can turn to them when I need help in certain areas. I also appreciate being able to sell Hepz products at their store, Krimson Kultuur.”
For more information about Hepz, visit https://www.hepz.org/.