PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #3 from Assk

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. Each grantee reports back with blog posts and photos. Here’s the second report from Rachel Verner ’15, founder of Assk, a company that strives to normalize sexual consent through apparel and education, thereby preventing sexual violence. You can read Rachel’s first report and a description of Assk here, her second report here, and you can read other grantee reports here.


Well, I set a few big goals for Assk in the last blog post. I wanted to have a team, a new name, a fashion/graphic designer, a website, and a social media presence by now. I wish I could say that all those items have been crossed off (one of) my (many) to do lists, but I’m slowly learning that’s just not how start-ups work. Here’s a look at what Assk has been up to since the last post was published:

  1. Forming a Team

For a long time, this was Assk’s biggest hurdle. It was just me trying to drive the daily operations, and that wasn’t sustainable. So, when I moved to Boston, I started chatting with friends (new and old) about what I was doing. I knew a few people were interested, and was excited to receive a couple emails from people who had read my last post and wanted to get involved. There are now 7 of us working on various aspects of Assk, and I can’t wait for you to meet them. I asked everyone to write up short bios, which you can check out here: http://www.assk.ca/aboutus

  1. Assk Brand Board

    A brand board created by the team during our first brainstorming session

    A New Company Name

No matter how hard I try, some things just take time – in this case, coming up with a new name is taking what feels like eternity. After many failed attempts at creativity, I called up my step-mother, Marilyn Barefoot, who runs a brainstorming business (Barefoot Brainstorming). She designed a workshop based on the principles of convergent and divergent thinking. In other words, we got to make collages (officially called “brand boards”, I’m told!), go on a scavenger hunt, play with Play-Doh, and eat bubble gum, all of which helped us come up with name ideas. We made some really good forwards progress, and are planning another workshop for the coming weeks. That said, if you’ve got any name ideas, I want to hear them! Just shoot me an email at rachel.verner@assk.ca.

Not having a name is incredibly frustrating. It often feels like we can’t make do anything because we don’t have a name. At the same time, though, the process of trying to come up with a new name has forced us to think critically about our brand identity. We’ve thought about our essence, our personality, our values, even what colours most accurately illustrate who we are and what we stand for. And while we may not have sold any t-shirts yet, we have a really good idea of who we are.

  1. A fashion/graphic designer
Boss of These Parts

T-shirt design in the works

 We don’t have a fashion/graphic-designer-by-training on the team, but I’m feeling really good about where we’re at with clothing design. We’ve come up with some awesome design ideas (shout out to Dara’s mom for the “I’m the boss of these parts” concept!), and can’t wait to hit the streets with them.

  1. A Website & Social Media Presence

This one is huge for me. Every time I have talked to someone about Assk over the past few years, I haven’t had anywhere to send them, or any way to collect their information. I’ve dropped so many leads, and that’s just unacceptable. Thankfully, we finally have a live website! It’s just a landing page at the moment, but that’s all it needs to be right now. Check it out, and sign up for our mailing list, at www.assk.ca.

No social media presence yet, mainly because we don’t have a name. That said, we’ve got a social media strategy meeting coming up, and have been doing lots of research on best practices.

In the coming months, we’ll have our hands full with a number of projects: developing a website (and maybe an online store!), producing our first pieces of clothing, selling our first pieces of clothing, building our social media presence, hosting events in the Boston area, and getting ready for our Kickstarter campaign. If you haven’t already, please do join our mailing list – we’d love to keep you posted on our progress!