SCU Alumni Spotlight: The Jesuit Mission in Action
After four years of attending separate Jesuit high schools, Alexa DeSanctis and I (Drew Descourouez) met through the Johnson Scholars Program at Santa Clara University. We both chose Santa Clara for its mission of service, justice, and leadership and the many educational opportunities outside the classroom. Through study abroad experiences, the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, Immersion Programs through the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, the Global Fellows Internship, the Jean Donovan Fellowship, and more, we developed a unique perspective on the many ways each person’s individual actions connect to a larger community.
With a Jesuit-oriented global perspective, Alexa and I started to investigate the impact of modern American consumption on other human beings and our common home. We quickly found that for many of us, our impact is being determined for us. A child in the United States generates more carbon dioxide through their clothes, toys, and food in one year of life than an adult in Tanzania will produce in their entire lifetime. So much of the way we abuse the people and planet around us is strategically hidden below the surface of the things we consume.
After discovering thousands of socially driven companies and market research that indicated an industry shift towards responsible business, Alexa and I stumbled upon the “Ethical Purchasing Gap.” This concept has been revealed time and time again, as consumers show greater interest in responsible products with no change in the products they purchase. We identified three main factors preventing people from making the switch to responsible shopping: inconvenience, misinformation, and cost.
In order to eliminate some of these obstacles, we decided to create a platform that could make it easier to find and trust sustainably and ethically sourced products. We wanted to ensure our tool could serve online shoppers like ourselves and also help generate more purchases for the companies that were committed to a higher standard of production. We started tracking the purchasing power of our customers, revealing that how a customer spends their dollar really can reduce carbon emissions and water waste, as well as provide living wages for laborers around the world.
With much help from the SCU community, Alexa and I turned our idea into a reality with a company called Zarella. We won the Ciocca Center Pitch Competition and graduated from the Bronco Venture Accelerator. Our company allows consumers to shop for responsible products, make a wish list, or get on our mailing list. We are currently working on a way to reward customers for each responsible purchase, taking another step toward a more humane, just, and sustainable world and truly living out the mission of Santa Clara University. We can’t wait to see how Zarella can continue to create a positive impact in the world with the support of our Santa Clara community!