Three Notre Dame undergraduate students – Christian Estrada, Roberto Pellas and David Kenney – wanted to assist people in Nicaragua struggling with the crushing weight of poverty. In the summer of 2012, they started a for-profit social venture, called Custom Elevation. By bringing the crafts of Nicaraguan artisans to international markets that are able and willing to pay a fair price for their products, Custom Elevation allows these skilled artisans to rise out of poverty.
In order to be different from other artisan-centered ventures, Custom Elevation decided to tap into the collegiate market. Their products offer a beautiful combination between culture, tradition and school pride. Custom Elevation crafts cotton and wood based products, which are currently being sold at Notre Dame’s bookstore. Additionally, they have entered the markets of other prestigious universities as well as Greek life to include products for fraternities and sororities.
Custom Elevation is about enhancing the Nicaraguan artisan’s lives, whose skills are unparalleled and have been handed down from generation to generation. It is about moving them to a fair market and reducing the predatory price wars that they engage in within their local markets. Custom Elevation has a triple bottom line focusing on three pillars: Planet, People, and Profits.