HIGHLAND PARK – Five high school teenagers who have known each other since they were in diapers have created a line of onesies T-shirts with a cause, essentially enabling babies to take a stand before they can even crawl.
The students from Highland Park, Deerfield, and North Shore Country Day high schools created Born To Be Tees to help them raise awareness and money for non-profit organizations.
“Social issues are not only affecting our generation, but future generations,” said Caroline Berkman, HPHS senior and one of the founders. “Our goal by giving even the tiny a mighty voice is to help all people recognize that we can make a difference.”
Caroline noted that she and the rest of the Born To Be Tees founders are longtime family friends. The other founders are Casey Borovsky, a DHS junior, Tyler Froelich, a HPHS senior, and twins Katie Abrams, a junior at North Shore Country Day, and Jake Abrams, a junior at HPHS.
“We all design the onesies. We came up with the name first, and we unanimously voted on what we liked the best,” said Caroline. “It was so much fun. I think we’re all very creative.” Each onesie carries a cute message referring to different non-profits, which are listed below in parenthesis.
Some of the slogans on the soft, white onesies include: Rock The Vote And Then Rock Me (Rock the Vote); Dream Big Nap Often (City Year programming); and Change My Diaper Not My Climate (Waterkeeper Alliance).
“I really like Waterkeeper Alliance,” said Caroline. “I think that climate change and water conservation is a big issue right now, but I still care about all of them.”
Casey is “most passionate about Best Buddies, as it closely resembles Warrior Buddies, a club that helps foster friendships between students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their peers at Deerfield High School,” she said.
The other participating charities include: Stand Up To Cancer; Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; and I don’t Even Know If I Am Gay Yet.
“Surprisingly sales have been very evenly spread on charities,” said Caroline. We came up with the idea about a year and a half ago. Then we got in touch with someone who helped us put our ideas together on the website, and we just started taking orders a few weeks ago.”
The group meets weekly at the Abrams home in Highland Park. “My mom being a huge environmental activist, has had a lot of influence on our lives,” said Katie. “She has made us want to become activists ourselves and taught us to stand up for things we care about, and fight to do what we can for others. My mom is the most inspirational person, and has helped me learn to realize my passion as an activist.”
Katie also explained why her twin brother Jake is not the odd man out in the group, “We really respect his opinion, because he gives us a point of view that no one else can provide. Jake also helps add a boys perspective to the onesies helping us to know whether the idea is too female focused or is good for everyone,” she said.
“At first we split up into different committees like finance, and then we decided to learn about all of the different aspects of the business,” said Casey.
In addition to placing orders for Born To Be Tees on their website, beginning in January Goodies in Highland Park will sell the onesies along with other treats in their baby baskets. “Goodies loved the idea, and we’re so excited about it,” said Caroline.
“When you order online all profits from the $15 go to charities,” explained Casey. “For store purchases, five dollars goes to the store, five dollars goes to cover costs and five dollars goes to charity.”
”We’ve always enjoyed spending time together. When you’re working with your friends and having a great time that has a big impact. Starting a business takes a lot of effort, because it takes so much. It’s like our own baby. It’s a great learning experience,” said Tyler.