New Jersey Teen LEADs the Way with Pitch for Anti-ballistic Garments

Remember her name: Meredith Joseph is a rising star. Officials say she is a senior at the Academy of the Holy Angels, Joseph and her two teammates developed the concept for Armur, an apparel corporation that makes lightweight anti-ballistic undergarments.

Their work earned them a second-place finish in the 2019 LEADing for Life Competition, a “pitch” event held at the PenFed Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I initially came up with Armur after witnessing the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, shootings on the news,” the Suffern, New York, resident explained. She decided she would help protect people without the bulk of traditional bulletproof gear. “I decided to create lightweight, durable, and economically friendly bulletproof undergarments,” she said.

The product also has a positive ecological benefit since the garments would be made from recycled textiles and medical equipment.

“Our company is apolitical,” Joseph said, adding that the goal is to protect the public. According to Joseph, the goal is for Armur to “self-destruct” as people no longer need the product.

Although there is no Armur prototype at the moment, Joseph and her teammates plan to seek investors and apply for a patent. Once the prototype is made, Joseph said the team would like to obtain an NIJ Level IV A Certification for product durability.

Joseph’s journey began when he started to research business programs that are offered during the summer. She applied and was accepted to a two-week summer LEAD competition at the University of Michigan.

“A month later, alumni from all of the schools at LEAD were invited to participate in the LEADing for Life Competition. I had the choice to either use my previous product from the University of Michigan LEAD or create a new one.

I decided to come up with a new one, and I asked two friends I made from the LEAD program at the University of Michigan to join my business.

Arnav Singhvi serves as the COO and he attends American High School in Fremont, California. Alek Ledvina is the CFO and he attends Indian Springs School in Indian Springs, Alabama.”

Despite living in three different time zones, the team managed to hold meetings at least twice a week. Together, the trio represented the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. They competed against teams from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, Duke University Fuqua School of Business, Lehigh University Business School, and Northwestern Kellogg School of Business.

“There were three rounds of competition: the preliminary, semi-finals, and finals. All rounds, except for the finals, were held online via Zoom.”

Joseph said she learned about finance and accounting, and how to market a product from its inception. In addition, she sharpened her public speaking skills and discovered what it means to be a leader. Leadership, she acknowledged, is more than assigning tasks or heading meetings.

She pointed out that leaders listen to ideas, allow team members to take the initiative, and inspire others. Throughout the experience, she met with company executives, visited Fortune 500 corporations, and received valuable mentorship.

“We were so nervous, but felt our product was outstanding,” Joseph said of the event in Washington. “On the day of the competition, we came in second. What I learned, most importantly, was that that was okay, too.” Joseph belongs to several honor societies, including the National Honor Society, the Latin Honor Society, Rho Kappa (social studies), and Mu Alpha Theta (math).

She is a member of Joining Old and Young, an AHA group that presents concert series at local residences for senior citizens. Joseph is serving as secretary/treasurer of the AHA Class of 2020.