Sierra Leone artists design limited-edition T-shirts for American Apparel

Sierra Leone native Massah KaiKai wanted to find a way to show the world there was more to her family's homeland than civil war and the recent Ebola pandemic.

To that end, KaiKai, who lives in New York, went to American Apparel to pitch an idea -- the company would send T-shirts to Sierra Leone to be tie-dyed by artisans there, who would then ship the shirts back to be sold in American Apparel stores.

"Sierra Leone has faced some obstacles, but it's such a vibrant country where opportunity is possible for people with ideas and passion," KaiKai said. "I hope Sierra Leoneans are inspired by what we've done in partnership with American Apparel to showcase this talented community."

American Apparel got on board, and thousands of shirts were created by Sierra Leone artists. The limited-edition collection hit store shelves on Tuesday. For every one-of-a-kind shirt sold, 50 percent of the proceeds will be given to the artists who designed them.

"American Apparel has always been a strong advocate for fair wages," Jon Henry Szymanski, director of co-branding and philanthropy at American Apparel, said. "Hopefully, this project will be one small step toward paving the way for a world filled with equal opportunity."

The shirts are available now at 50 American Apparel locations and can also be purchased online at http://store.americanapparel.net/the-sierra-leone-tee-_cat2410670.

For more information about American Apparel, visit www.americanapparel.com.

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