FAIRFIELD — Their inspiration stemming from a sense of town pride, a Fairfield Warde High School class has designed and begun selling Fairfield sweatshirts to hone their business skills while encouraging local camaraderie and passing a chunk of profits to charity.

An entrepreneurship class at the high school — aided by Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut mentorship — designed a project uncommon in its scope. According to the class’ mentor, many student projects market to the school community, but this group is looking to reach buyers throughout town.

“I think (the inspiration) is just from bringing the community together, just having fun selling and getting out and talking to different people in our town — that camaraderie,” said Marcel Parsons, Warde senior and vice president of public relations for the students’ project.

The class’ task was to create its own business, promoting and selling a product until, hopefully, stock runs out, the venture wraps up and students have learned to navigate upstarting an idea in the business world. By group vote, Parsons and his classmates chose to design a gray Fairfield crewneck sweatshirt — a sailboat and the town’s name on the front and town name, coordinates and outline of Connecticut on the back.

Many of the students have grown up in Fairfield, and take pride in the town and the concept of bringing it together, according to Parsons. If Fairfielders choose to wear their sweatshirts around town, the students reasoned, it might encourage connections between people able to bond over the shared town-pride apparel.

They worked with a company to manufacture the sweatshirts and are selling them in sizes small through extra-large for $30. The group plans to donate $300 to Operation Hope as a way to give back to the local community through the Fairfield nonprofit that aids the homeless.

More Information

To buy a Fairfield sweatshirt, email fairfieldfabrics@gmail.com or marcelparsons3@gmail.com.

Of its 500-sweatshirt stock, the students had sold 210 as of March 28. The experience for Parsons, who plans to major in business next year, has taught him about real-world entrepreneurship. One lesson is the necessity of doing what’s necessary to reach goals, while staying within the proper guidelines.

“I’ve learned it’s not easy,” he said. “I’ve learned you definitely have to throw yourself out there, you have to be able to take rejection, but you have to be able to always bounce back.”

Philip Palmieri, the class’ Junior Achievement mentor and president of Integrated Print Solutions, said each high school entrepreneurship course asks students to go from business plan to product and, finally, to closing out the business. But the current Warde class project is set apart by its town-wide target market, intended to reach beyond the internal school community. Choosing to donate to a charity is optional, but a step the group chose.

Since the group has sold nearly half the sweatshirts, Palmieri foresees the crewnecks selling out.

“They’re good, hard-working students. The special thing about this class is it really is effort-based as far as results,” he said. “They do work hard. There are some real stars in the class, and it’s not always who you predict it will be.”

lweiss@hearstmediact.com; @LauraEWeiss16