Born on June 27, 1990, Veronika Scott grew up in a suburb of Detroit, MI, so it was no surprise when she chose to attend the College of Creative Studies (CCS) in the same city. Scott decided to pursue a degree in Product Design, and in 2010, she received an assignment to “design something to fill a social need.” Since she was very familiar with the high homeless population in Detroit, she decided to reach out to local shelters. After working for five months, Scott designed a “heat-trapping jacket” that can transform into a “weather-resistant sleeping bag.” With an average of over 40 inches of snow each winter, this sleeping-bag coat proved a life saver in the war against Detroit’s harsh weather.
Although she had completed her assignment, Scott’s story was far from over as she had stumbled upon a great demand in society. The young entrepreneur graduated in 2011 with a degree in Product Design and continued working with various shelters to raise awareness and provide protection with her sleeping-bag coat. During one of her visits to a local shelter, a woman complained, saying “We don’t need coats. We need jobs.” Scott took the criticism to heart and, in response, hired homeless women to help construct the sleeping-bag coats. What began as a class project has grown into a non-profit organization called The Empowerment Plan that focuses on producing and distributing sleeping-bag coats made by homeless individuals.
“Our goal is to help build a better life for those that have become trapped in the cycle of homelessness. We mostly hire homeless parents from local shelters to become full time seamstresses so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and gain back their independence for themselves and for their families.”
As the CEO, Scott has helped the organization reach 40 U.S. states and 7 Canadian provinces and hand out more than 15,000 coats to those in need. In the following years, Scott hopes to continue to expand the nonprofit to other communities in need. Due to the sturdy weather-resistant material, it takes $100 to produce each sleeping-bag coat. If you would like to contribute, or simply read more, click here.