Mendoza School of Business

A pop-up shop with a story to tell

Published: October 31, 2022 / Author: Carol Elliott

Tucked among the racks of clothes in traditional blues, golds, greens and tartan plaids, visitors to the University of Notre Dame’s Hammes Bookstore will find some decidedly non-traditional ND looks:

wendy angst by the St. Bakhita's pop up display

Professor Wendy Angst stands by the Saint Bakhita’s pop up shop in the Notre Dame Bookstore.

Wrap skirts swirling in bright purple, orange, yellow, red and green patterns, cleverly hand-sewn backpacks shaped like elephants, zipper pouches in a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors.

The St. Bakhita Vocational Training Center Pop-Up Shop is offering the special collection of items for sale at the bookstore through January 1, 2023. Each one is handmade by a young woman at St. Bakhita. All of the proceeds from the sale go to supporting the training center in Uganda.

Wendy Angst, a Management & Organization teaching professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, called it “shopping with a mission.” Angst’s Innovation and Design Thinking class first started working with St. Bakhita in 2020. The school, located in the impoverished northern region of Uganda, opened in 2007 to help women rebuild their lives in the wake of tragic abductions by the violent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). As many as 30,000 children were victims of the LRA with abductions beginning in the late 1980s and continuing for over a decade. The school reopened on November 7, 2022, and is poised to graduate its first class of 78 Innovation Scholars sponsored by Notre Dame.

As part of its vocational offerings, St. Bakhita trains students in the finer skills of sewing and tailoring as an eventual career path. In the handmade clothes, bags and backpacks, Angst and her students saw an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the school.

“For a class project, my design thinking students came up with the idea to make these beautiful tailored products available in the U.S. so that we have a broader market reach and obviously higher profit margin to benefit the center,” said Angst. “Another group of students built the e-commerce platform and the website, and the Innovation for Impact Club jumped in to get the products ready for the bookstore.”

Barnes & Noble, the management company for the Hammes Bookstore, also became a willing partner, said Angst. “They are committed to making socially conscious products available and graciously agreed that our project with Saint Bakhita was a great opportunity to highlight this initiative.”

group standing by the display in the bookstoreThe St. Bakhita logo on the display and clothing tags shows a mountain and a cross, which have particular meaning. “When the children were abducted during the LRA conflict, the cross on the mountain was lit up so they could find their way home,” said Angst. The price tags attached to the pop-up shop items also were designed to highlight the mission of St. Bakhita, with each one in the series of six presenting a student’s story.

The St. Bakhita Vocational Training Center Pop-Up Shop is part of a collaborative and ongoing partnership between Angst’s Innovation and Design Thinking class, the Innovation for Impact club and the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda.

For more information about Notre Dame’s partnership with St. Bakhita, read “Idea Generation” and “The Business of Designing Hope.” Watch the video story of Victoria Nyanjura, a 2020 graduate of the Keough School’s Master of Global Development program who serves as a technical advisor to St. Bakhita. Nyanjura was herself kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army from her school in 1996 and held hostage for eight years. The partnership also will be featured on November 5 as a “What Would You Fight For?” video during the Notre Dame-Clemson game.

Watch a video of Professor Wendy Angst speaking about St. Bakhita’s and the pop-up shop here.

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