Perry Rizopoulos, a Manhattan College senior, has set out to save his city one T-shirt at a time.
After three years of planning and saving, Mr. Rizopoulos and four friends have launched Save Your City, a clothing company that donates a T-shirt or sweatshirt to someone in need every time a customer purchases the identical item.
Save Your City gave its first batch of clothing to students in the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center’s after-school program.
“It’s about neighbors helping neighbors,” said Mr. Rizopoulos, 21, a philosophy student who grew up in Pelham Parkway. “It’s buying something and being able to walk two blocks and see someone you helped.”
Mr. Rizopoulos said delivering meals to homeless people as a freshman inspired him to start a business that benefited those in need. He was intrigued by companies that made giving back viable. For instance, TOMS gives shoes to children living in poverty whenever people purchase a pair, and Warby Parker donates glasses to someone in a developing country when somebody in the developed world buys the same.
But Mr. Rizopoulos wanted to keep it local.
He was doodling one day and came up with the company’s logo — an exclamation point that contains a rendition of the Empire State Building in the upper oval and the letters SYC in the period below.
“It’s sort of promoting a reevaluation of capitalism in a way, like you can do business without exploiting people and you can have capitalism with a conscience,” Mr. Rizopoulos said.
Mr. Rizopoulos’ friend Mitch Goulian helped him with clothing designs and they began researching how to get the clothing made.
A lack of funding stalled the project but Mr. Rizopoulos revived Save Your City last year during a community service trip that helped him recruit two new business partners. He met James Breen, a graduate student studying chemical engineering, and Joseph Murtagh, a junior, while cooking and serving food in soup kitchens in Tenderloin, a San Francisco neighborhood often considered the most densely-populated community of homeless people in America.