Janji, a socially conscious running shorts business created by members of the Washington University in St. Louis cross country team, will release its original running apparel at a public launch party in St. Louis Thursday, May 3.
“This public release is something we’ve been building towards for two years,” says Mike Burnstein, a senior urban studies major, an avid runner and one of the founders of Janji, proceeds of which go to fight world hunger and water needs.
“It is extremely exciting to finally release something that will have a global impact —providing clean water and nutrition to people who need it,” Burnstein says.
Janji aims to make a global impact on the food and water crisis through its running apparel. The design of the shorts is based on the flags of the countries that the apparel benefits, including Kenya and Haiti. With each piece of apparel sold proceeds go directly toward sustainable solutions.
For instance, eight days of nutrition are supplied when a runner buys a pair of the Haiti shorts.
Janji shorts will be sold in more than 60 running stores across the United States beginning this summer.
The idea for Janji began on the way to the 2010 Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, when Burnstein and fellow runner Dave Spandorfer were motivated by a vision to end the food and water crisis through the power of running.
“The inspiration for Janji was to connect runners to the global food and water crisis, which afflicts over a billion people,” says Spandorfer, a 2011 history and international business graduate. “We want to give runners something bigger to run for than their own personal performance.”
They chose the name, Janji, which means “promise” in Malay, because their organization is built on the promise to “run for another.”
From the beginning, Janji has had considerable start-up success by winning grants and business competitions, which led to nationwide recognition and the attention of many inspired running store owners.
Janji was awarded a total of $15,000 at the 2011 Youthbridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC) at Washington University. The competition is a joint partnership between the YouthBridge Community Foundation and WUSTL’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
“Competing in the SEIC offered us more than funding,” Burnstein says. “It allowed us to refine our concept from a small idea to a sustainable business. Without that experience we wouldn’t exist.”
The YouthBridge SEIC is unique in St. Louis and, in terms of monetary awards, is one of the largest competitions of its kind in the United States.
Janji also won first place and $20,000 in the 2011 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Sports/Outdoors Business Plan Competition, beating out 15 other teams.
Janji is releasing its products nationwide this summer in select running stores, starting with the May 3 launch party at St. Louis’ Big River Running Company.
Runners are invited to be the first to view and purchase the new apparel, along with the opportunity to meet the young entrepreneurs who made their dream a reality.
The event begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at Big River Running, 14059 Manchester Road in Manchester, Mo.