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Posted February 24, 2016 by
Tags: Student Activities My Wheaton

Wheaton Shark Tank Winner: Flourish 

The first time I realized I wanted to start a business was last year. I was sitting in my microfinance class as my professor explained that even if a woman was forced into prostitution through human trafficking, she could still be stuck with a criminal record and have difficulty finding work outside of the sex industry.The injustice of it was hard for me to stomach. I had to do something for those women.

I've dreamed of designing dresses that are made sustainably for years, especially as I become more aware of the horrific labor practices used in the fashion industry. When I heard about the need for jobs for survivors of the sex industry, I saw how my love for clothes and heart for disenfranchised women could actually fit together beautifully.

Over the next year, "Flourish" took shape. The idea was to sell sustainably made dresses by employing victims of sexual violence. I read all I could on the issue but wasn’t sure what to do next until Anna Morris, the Director of Student Alumni Board, suggested I participate in Wheaton's Shark Tank last fall. I figured it was time to put all of my research to use and really develop my dream. By participating in Shark Tank, Flourish came together through a series of events, people, and “lightbulb moments” that the Lord wove together over the years.

Winning Shark Tank was huge for me. To have other people get behind this dream has been really humbling and encouraging. It’s one thing to have a crazy idea to combine fashion with social justice and another to have someone believe that you can do it and offer you resources to help make it a reality.
I don’t know what comes next, but I sincerely believe the Lord will continue to connect me with the right people and put me in the right places to grow this vision. I’m eager to see how He will provide for Flourish in the coming months.

Presented by the Student Alumni Board and Opus, Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition among Wheaton College students modeled after the eponymous television show. Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16 was announced the winner on February 18th. 

Photo Captions: Mary Elizabeth after winning Wheaton Shark Tank; Mary Elizabeth presenting her company Flourish at Shark Tank last Thursday; Mary Elizabeth with friends at the Chicago Art Institute.