By Caroline Yablon | Contributor
About a year and a half ago, Newport Beach, Calif., junior Trey Mena journaled after a church service about the idea that Christians are supposed to live as human solar panels. Little did he know that his journal entry would become the mission of his future company.
On Sunday, Mena launched the cite for his clothing company called Solar Apparel on Instagram.
This summer, Mena planned to go on a mission trip to Budapest; however, he received news that he was not able to go because of an illness. At that moment, Mena had two options: hold on to frustration or remain faithful and optimistic about what’s next for him. Mena chose the second option, which led to the idea of Solar Apparel.
“I was driving with one of my buddies the day I found out, kind of in my feels trying to figure out what do I do now, how can I help the world, and make a difference for the Kingdom,” Mena said. “I just realized the way I love to talk about Jesus and have conversations is by what I wear, so why not create cool stuff that will get people to ask questions. Those questions provide the opportunity to share the gospel.”
Mena’s sole desire for starting this company is to further the gospel. He uses a metaphor of how Christians are called to function as a human solar panel.
Solar Apparel’s mission statement reads, “Like solar panels, we receive all of our strength, wisdom and power from the Son. In the same way, everything that we retain, every talent, every gift and every blessing is given to us with the purpose of serving others.”
Mena said he lives Solar Apparel’s mission in his daily life by consciously thinking that everything he has is not his own and nothing he has, including his characteristics, gifts, strengths, weaknesses, is given to benefit him.
“I was not given anything to make my own life better,” Mena said. “But instead to serve other people and try to help others in any way I can.”
Ultimately, Mena said living out the Solar Apparel mission is living for God and others — not yourself.
“Living with the mindset of ‘I’m here to serve for God, through God, and it’s got nothing to do with me,’” Mena said.
Mena uses social media to share Solar Apparel and its mission by posting graphics and weekly Bible verses.
San Mateo, Calif., sophomore Olivia Martin is the social media manager and head of marketing for Solar Apparel. She said she hopes the content will bring positivity and be uplifting for people.
“We want the aesthetics of the Instagram to be happy, bright and welcoming, and through that, we want people to be interested in [Solar Apparel] and also see the heart behind it,” Martin said. “Just keeping it really fun, spunky and creative are our main goals behind our social media.”
Martin also hopes that people will feel connected with Solar Apparel through Instagram.
“I hope for our social media that it feels like followers are getting to know who’s behind [the company] and feel connected to it because it’s not just about the clothes we’re selling, but we want to make a community out of it and engage with people on both sides,” Martin said. “ We want to engage with them, and we want them to engage with us.”
Newport Beach, Calif. sophomore Riley O’Bryan is the graphic designer for Solar Apparel and said she took Mena’s vision of wanting bright colors with a clean look and created that in the graphics on Instagram, as well as, the stickers sold on their website. O’Bryan said she enjoys being part of the process of creating content for the company.
“Getting to be a part of a new company is fun, but being able to support a friend in this way and his endeavors to promote the gospel is really awesome,” O’Bryan said. “To have a part in that is something I enjoy and cherish being a part of.”