At first glance, Hope Outfitters may seem like a typical clothing company.
It offers designed and branded T-shirts, sweatshirts and the like in a variety of colors and styles.
They’re sleek, on trend, appealing.
But look closer at the words they bear. Some of the latest shirts say, “Fearfully and wonderfully made,” a reference to a verse in the book of Psalms in the Bible.
And consider the company’s tag line: “Buy 1, Give 100.” As in 100 percent of the profits.
The Tri-City-based company donates all the profits from each sale to groups and programs helping people in need in the community and beyond.
Sales are booming and buzz is growing for the “mission-minded” company.
“To see it have (a significant) impact on people’s lives has been amazing,” said Ryan Welch, 34, of Richland, one of the founders. “To be a part of something where you really feel like your life is making a different is so, so rewarding.”
Welch, a 1999 graduate of Hanford High School, went onto earn a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering and a master’s in business administration and serve four years as an officer in the Air Force. He now works in project management and business development.
He launched Hope Outfitters about three years ago along with his wife, Crissy, and about 10 other local couples.
He’d first put together a group of venture capitalists who were looking to make money, but, “I’m a Christian. I felt like God was leading me to do something different,” he told the Herald. “I knew I didn’t want my life to just be about money. I knew there was a bigger purpose to life.”
Hope Outfitters used to be called I Am In Him. Welch and the other leaders all have other gigs, from school administration to social work to to stay-at-home parenting, and they don’t take any pay for their Hope Outfitters work.
Because the overhead is so low, the company is able to give away thousands from each campaign.
Every four months, a new cause is selected and new tie-in designs unveiled.
Brice Fullingim of Pasco, another Hope Outfitters leader, said the group picks organizations that are tackling specific projects. “A lot of people would like to help (their community) but don’t know how,” he said. “To a certain degree, we’ve given people an avenue.”
Right now, for example, the “Hand Made” campaign featuring the gear with the “fearfully and wonderfully made” message is raising money to bring a mobile ultrasound unit to the Tri-Cities through the organization Save the Storks. The pro-life group provides support and training to pregnancy resource centers around the country.
Hope Outfitters has helped several different groups and projects since it formed, from raising money to build wells in villages in India to bringing in about $3,500 for the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission’s building campaign. The mission plans a new men’s facility in Pasco.
“I think it’s great — it’s a great idea,” said Andrew Porter, mission executive director, of Hope Outfitters’ business model.
“They help a variety of causes around the world. It’s nice that they’re able to reach out and help us,” Porter said. “It’s a good bunch of people.”
Hope Outfitters gear is available through the website and sold at special events.
Welch said the goal is to continue to expand the company’s online presence and reach, and to eventually open retail locations locally and around the country.
To keep growing and giving.
It’s not about the number of zeroes in the company’s bank account, but about changing lives, Welch said.
“If I have the choice between a billion dollar paycheck and 10 lives that are completely changed, I’ll chose the lives any day,” he said. “It’s just about helping other people and really living out that commission that God has for us — to love people more than we love ourselves.”