As a teacher in the Portland public school system, Rebekah Livingston has been dedicated to making small differences in the lives of her students, but she’s always wondered how she could have a bigger impact.

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She noticed that most of the students that fell behind or received lower marks in school were African American or Latino. She spent a lot of time thinking about how she could funnel resources to assist them and uplift the community in the process, but it would take a life-changing journey for one of her ideas to finally click. While abroad on a trip to Ethiopia,Livingston decided to launch a clothing line with a philanthropic twist. And when she returned, Misa Hylton-Brim stylist to the stars is launching a new line for chic ... was formed. In the few months since the launch of Change the Definition, Livingston has donated 50 percent of the proceeds to area charities and has provided more than 5,000 books to at-risk youth with below-average reading levels.

Her company has also been able to build a library in Ethiopia so that the schoolchildren there could have easier access to books. Madame Noire recently caught up with Livingston to talk about how she launched her company. MN: What is Change the Definition, LLC? RL: Change The Definition is a Portland, Ore. apparel company thats purpose is to change the path of at-risk youth. We invest our profits & time in funding and supporting programs that help give a successful foundation for education.

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    Our particular area of focus is on literacy. MN: When did you launch the company?
    RL: I launched the company in January 2012 (our line launched in mid-February). Because of the great idea behind our company, we have gained a lot of momentum in a short time.
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    MN: What was your inspiration for launching the company? RL: I have a deep connection with kids, and have been a volunteer teacher for 5 years now.
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    I realize that there is a HUGE need for funding education for kids who need extra help.
    Because our school systems are failing and lack funding, I wanted to find a way to help these kids so that they wont become a negative statistic.
    I want to set an example for them, that its cool to be intelligent and it’s cool to help people. I just took action and moved forward finding an appropriate name and aligning the company with different non-profits that share the same passion for education and literacy.
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    MN: What industry did you work in prior to launch? What was your position at your company?
    RL: I have worked for myself since I was 22. I opened a small skincare salon in Portland. I have always loved pursuing creative ideas and going after what I want.
    I cant remember ever wanting to work for a corporation or having a boss. MN: Do you have a co-founder?

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    RL: No, I do not have a co-founder however I brought my younger brother, Reuben Gabriel, on to do design work and to work with me as a partner.
    He’s got a lot of great ideas and he’s young, hip and eclectic. MN: How many people are on your team?
    RL: Since we are new business, we hire people on contract. My brother and I are the only permanent team members.
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    Our family and close friends help out a quite a bit. My hope is that we grow fast and have a need to hire more people and stimulate the economy.
    MN: How long did you plan and strategize before launching the company? RL: I spent 1 1/2 years before actually officially launching in January 2012.
    I just wanted to make sure my vision was on point and that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.