The Daily Green
Style with Substance: Q&A with the Founder of The Uniform Project
BY Sammy Davis
Friday 14 August 2009
Sheena Matheiken talks about how wearing the same little black dress 365 different ways can help Indian children receive an education through the Akanksha Foundation.
If you think that Sheena Matheiken, the brains behind The Uniform Project, is a fashionista at heart — you’re wrong. What she does consider herself: a creative do-gooder and philanthropist with a keen eye and soft spot for wearing handmade, recycled and vintage pieces. It’s a skill set she’s using well as she wears the same Little Black Dress every day for a year to raise money for the education of impoverished children in India.
It took a six-month sabbatical from her job at a New York City interactive advertising agency in 2008 for Matheiken to begin seriously considering how she could impact beyond her 9 to 5 — and for her much-fated meeting with Eliza Starbuck, who became the Uniform Project’s dress designer.
“We’re neighbors, and she saw me on the train. She liked my giraffe socks, and I liked her yellow tights,” Matheiken said. “Meeting her was a godsend because I don’t have any fashion experience.”
As their friendship blossomed, so did Matheiken’s ambitions to support the education of children in India. After a few phone calls to friends in India — where she had attended public school from the age of 4 and obtained her undergraduate fine arts degree — Matheiken was introduced to the Akanksha Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing holistic education for children from the country’s poorest slums and villages. Read full story >