Interview with Sara Adam '13 of Judith and James

Posted on 4/4/2013. Interview by Howie Rhee

Tell us about yourself

I am a senior at Duke who loves all things creative be it art or problem solving. I grew up in Tucson Arizona until my family moved to Kenya when I turned 16. I am somewhat of a global nomad- sometimes staying with my brother in Phoenix or my sister in NYC.

(Photo credit: UHS Perspective)

Tell us about your time at Duke, what were you involved in?

I have been involved in the Christian group, Reformed University Fellowship as well as Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. I participated in DukeImmerse


What's your major/program and when will you be graduating?  Tell us something about your educational experience at Duke.

I am an ICS major and a history minor. I am almost a visual arts minor, doing a portfolio of silkscreen.


Tell us about your idea.

Our idea is thinking about how to take consumer habits in the US and help them contribute to development in Africa. We are an apparel manufacturing company that pays a fair wage to women in Kenya.


How did you come up with your idea?  When did you come up with it?

When my partner, Anna told a pastor in a slum in Kenya that she was an apparel studies major at Arkansas, he connected her with women from his church that knew how to sew. When she started designing pieces for the women to sew people loved them and wanted to buy them. When we got together, we decided we wanted to turn it into a larger scale business.


How did you meet your team members?

Anna and I met on our first day of junior year of high school. We had both just moved to Kenya and were starting at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi.


How has the Duke Start-Up Challenge been helpful to you?

We have been connected to so many helpful mentors and made so many great connections. The judging feedback has been invaluable and the deadlines have helped us pace our work.


The Duke Start-Up Challenge provides a lot of feedback from over 100 judges.  Can you talk about that experience of reviewing the feedback?

It is hard to hear so many opinions because sometimes they are contradictory but it really helps to get an overall sense of where the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal are.


Did you connect with any judges for advice, and if so, who were they and was it helpful? 

I connected with Robert Semrad who is a manufacturing enthusiast who is going to be advising us in that department which was somewhere we were really lacking. Also Bryce Walker has come on to help us polish up our business plan.


What advice do you have for Duke students that are thinking of starting a company?

Do it! Especially while you are at Duke with all the resources and connections available to you. Entrepreneurs are the most exciting people.


Want more? Watch the videos and read the other interviews for all of the Round 3 teams in the Duke Start-Up Challenge

And join us for the Grand Finale with David Cummings ’02 for the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at 7:30pm ET at Fuqua’s Geneen Auditorium. RSVP on Facebook

Not able to attend in person?  Watch the livestream on Duke’s YouTube channel


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