Innovation. Courtesy of Dreamers.
When Applewild School’s 2016 The Laverack Family Alumni Award recipient, Sam Sisakhti, was an 8th grader at the school, the Lexington, MA native was more interested in sinking three-pointers than he was innovating how fashion reaches consumers. In fact, much of the technology used in Sam’s start-up, UsTrendy (www.ustrendy.com), hadn’t been invented yet when Sam was developing the skills at Applewild he would use later to bring the company to be recognized as one of the largest, independent e-commerce sites.
Was it easy making his way from Applewild in 1998 to Wheaton College (MA) to innovating the fashion industry? Not the way Sisakhti tells it. Standing in front of a large audience at Applewild, consisting of his former teachers, classmates, friends and the current student body, Sisakhti chronicled the 152 rejections he received from banks, potential investors, and venture capitalists. His story, as he tells it, hinged on resilience, and the “stick-to-it-ism” he learned at Applewild. That resilience, whether in learning to sink those three pointers that eluded him at Applewild, or pivoting his idea for a social media fashion company into a portal for independent fashion designers, proved to be the basis of his success. “It was not until I started innovating and doing things differently, and when I created my own path that I noticed results,” Sisakhti told his Applewild audience.
A year ago, Sam started the “Believe in Yourself Project” – a charity to put unworn dresses in the hands of underprivileged middle and high schoolers. Concerned by negative body-shaming comments posted on social media and alarmed by the idea that girls need to be a size 0 to be considered beautiful, Sisakhti has gained attention for his events designed to give teens a place to discuss feelings and concerns.
His work with the “Believe in Yourself Project” drew the attention of Applewild’s Alumni Council who is charged with collecting nominations for the annual Laverack Alumni Award, named for Applewild’s first Head of School, William Laverack.
The Laverack Family Alumni Award was established by the Founding Head of School, William Laverack, his wife, Persis, and their family to celebrate the values that Mr. Laverack held as most important in life: dedication and generosity – specifically being generous with one’s time, one’s love and one’s life.
In accepting the award, Sisakhti credited Applewild School and former Head of School, Bill Marshall, for instilling the values during his formative years which he continues to draw upon. In conclusion, Sam’s advice to the students at Applewild reflected upon the importance of innovation, while remaining true to your individualism, “At end of day it’s all about innovation and being a unique individual.”