Twins at Temple behind T-shirt business that also helps Philabundance

Twin sisters Sarah (left) and Rachel Stanton with some of the hand-drawn, fruit-designed shirts they make in the screen-printed T-shirt business called Fruitstrology. The goal is to help children in so-called food deserts.
Twin sisters Sarah (left) and Rachel Stanton with some of the hand-drawn, fruit-designed shirts they make in the screen-printed T-shirt business called Fruitstrology. The goal is to help children in so-called food deserts. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 18, 2014

Share the fruit you wear.

That's the motto behind Fruitstrology, a budding new business of screen-printed tank tops and T-shirts designed by two Temple University business students, sisters Rachel and Sarah Stanton.

For every shirt sold, a serving of fresh fruit is donated through Philabundance to Philadelphia-area children in so-called food deserts, where supermarkets are scarce.

The 22-year-old twins from Bristol conceived the idea in 2012 and, after several rounds of design experimentation, started marketing their shirts in September. Each is hand-dyed and printed with an individual fruit sketch.

"I have a different favorite every day," Sarah Stanton said, wearing a crimson apple.

Each fruit represents a personality. Customers can choose from Talkative Grape, Independent Pineapple, Active Orange, Charismatic Peach, Easygoing Banana, Ambitious Coconut, Smart Apple, and Funny Pear.

Rachel Stanton is a banana; her sister, a grape, they agreed. Currently, Independent Pineapple, printed on bright yellow, is the best seller.

The clothing tags bear personality descriptions and individual Twitter hashtags. The aim is to build "active fruit communities" among Fruitstrology customers, Sarah Stanton said.

Hand-sketched black fruits, created by Levittown artist Bethany Stewart, stand out against vibrant hues of pink, purple, yellow, and green, plus a muted tan for the coconuts.

"If it's a pear, we want it to look like a pear," Sarah Stanton said.

Fruitstrology's women's tanks and unisex T-shirts sell for $22 and $27 at www.fruitstrologyco.com, and for $20 at table sales. Ten percent of every sale goes to Philabundance's KidsBites program.

"We're always thinking about the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit," Rachel Stanton said, citing the creed of the sustainable business movement.

They learned about food deserts by volunteering at Uber Street Garden near Temple University. In urban settings, the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines them as areas of at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population residing more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

A 2012 study by the Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia community-development agency, ranked Pennsylvania as having the most limited supermarket-access areas of any state. Philadelphia was third highest of any city with more than 500,000 people. The study also factored in supermarkets accepting participation in government supplemental nutrition programs.

The Stanton sisters know it takes more than access to change people's eating habits.

"You can't just be, like, 'Kids, you should eat more fruit, but it's really expensive,' " Sarah Stanton said. "We want to both educate and alleviate."

And do it in a fun way.

"We're trying to make donating fun, not shaming people," Sarah said.

"We know how to make it look appealing," Rachel said.

Last month, Fruitstrology wrote its first check to KidsBites for $150, part of which came out of the sisters' own pockets.

Fruitstrology is a welcome addition to a sizable list of donors to KidsBites, including Procter & Gamble Co., Citizens Bank Foundation, and Morgan Stanley, said spokeswoman Lindsay Bues.

"We need all the help we can get at this point," Bues said.

The program currently operates at Lowell Elementary School in Olney and Stetser Elementary School in Chester, according to Susan Fink, senior vice president of development at Philabundance.

"Food is distributed, allowing families of the students at the partner school to choose from available food options, including fresh produce, protein, and dairy," Fink said in an e-mail.

The Stanton sisters expect to graduate from Temple's Fox School of Business in May. They were evidently born with the entrepreneurial gene.

"We were the typical lemonade-stand kids," Rachel Stanton said.

Or maybe not so typical.

"In elementary school, I used to rent people pencils and make them pay interest," Sarah said. "And they paid it!"

She used most of the money she earned from an internship with Comcast to get Fruitstrology started. "I'm bitter at my twin about that," Sarah said, laughing.

Though sisters will be sisters, the Stantons acknowledged the advantage of working together.

"I always know what she's going to do," Rachel said. "When we're working well, it's great."

They print the shirts at home, equipped with a Yudu screen printer, water-based inks, and a grandfather's hand-me-down squeegees.

When it's time to sell, everything goes into their Toyota Tercel. They have sold at First Friday events in Old City, at Honeygrow in Bala Cynwyd, and sometimes even on the train.

The Stantons are already thinking about expansion and looking for food banks in other cities to partner with, to keep fruit donations local affairs.

"There's so many ways you can play with fruit," Sarah said.


abrust@phillynews.com301-503-5429 @ameliabrust

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