Three Friends Turn Plastic Waste Into A New Retail Brand

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Three friends started a company, Nomadix, based on one product — a towel made of recycled plastic. Three years in, they’re in REI, Urban Outfitters, and over 100 boutiques, surf shops, and yoga studios. And their approach to growth is, ironically, slow down.

Chace Petersen, Zack Helminiak, and Hunter Robinson are accidental business partners. After years of camping, surfing, and having an outdoor lifestyle together, the trio realized that there was increasing plastic waste in the ocean, and trash littered at their favorite surf spots. Eliminating all the waste would be too hard, so they decided to hone in on single-use plastic water bottles, Helminiak says.

“Plastic pollution is a major problem for oceans and wildlife, which Nomadix and our customers seek to protect.”

Nomadix was born out of necessity, he says. The founders travel regularly, having visited about three dozen countries collectively and towels, they realized were either too niche or made of rubbish quality. 

Read the full story on Forbes.com.

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How Chris Burkard Built A Creative Company Based On His Photography

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Chris Burkard is not your average creative entrepreneur.  The 31-year-old who is known for his epic surfing photographs, often in the coldest corners of the world, has a massive Instagram following of nearly 3 million, but still argues that he is a hustler.

His photographs have been featured in Toyota, American Airlines, Apple and Sony campaigns, to name a few of his clients. This summer he’s taking a personal project on the road — a short film called Under An Arctic Sky.  Filmed in Iceland with majestic shots of the Northern Lights, the 40-minute film features Burkard and his crew surfing off the Iceland coast.

Though he has a massive online following, his entrepreneurial journey is lesser known to his fans. Over a decade ago, at 19, Burkard decided that he would be a surf photographer. He was going to forgo college to pursue this seemingly niche career. “Is that a real job title? My parents didn’t believe me when I told them either,” he jokes in a phone interview from his New York City screening of Under the Arctic Sky.

Read the full story at Forbes.com

(All Photos Courtesy of Chris Burkard Studio)

The New Crop of Bra Entrepreneurs Are Finally Women

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Bra entrepreneurs are finally women.

While that may seem obvious, the lingerie and underwear industry, a reportedly $13 billion market, has long been dominated by men, three entrepreneurs tell me. They’re all looking to transform what lingerie women buy, how they buy it, and for what purpose.

Portland-based Evelyn and Bobbie is the most recent addition to the mix. Founder and CEO Bree McKeen is not the average apparel entrepreneur: she worked in human-centered design and digital products before venturing down apparel. “I was in Silicon Valley, in the world of innovation, and I’m walking to work in this underwire and I’m just thinking, ‘What the heck is going on?’” she says, recalling her ‘aha’ moment. “It was so uncomfortable.”

Named after two independent-minded women from McKeen’s family, the company will launch its first line up of products this fall (but is taking pre-order in the spring).  While product images have yet to be released, underwire will certainly not be part of the collection, McKeen reassures.

Another company is also foregoing underwire as a response to customers, seeking comfort, not cleavage.

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Lively founder and a former Victoria’s Secret employee, Michelle Cordeiro Grant, stepped away from the retail giant in 2012 to redefine how bras were sold. While Victoria’s Secret had been championing sexier, sultrier images of women, Grant realized that vision no longer resonated with her: 

“I admired that Victoria’s Secret was able to capture so much of the market share with their message, but as a consumer, it just didn’t resonate. I had gotten married, had children.  The thought of my daughter fantasizing about contouring yourself into something that’s not achievable just didn’t sit well with me,” she says in an interview from her New York offices.

The ultimate problem that these women were getting at?  “This was an industry where men made the decisions, but women wore the product. It was just a big disconnect,” Grant explains.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

Why Two Norwegian Entrepreneurs Put $1.5 Million Towards Slow Travel In Fjord Country

 

Set in Norway’s majestic fjord country, Flam is a town about 230 inhabitants. Yet in one year it will see about half a million visitors and nearly 200 cruise ships — ships so big they drown out the few small hotels situated on the waterfront. At the base of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Flam and its nearby residents are concerned about the number of tourists descending on the small, picturesque village.

Last year, Fjord Norway, the tourism office for the region, told the Telegraph that they were encouraging hotels to increase rates in the summer months, hoping that would push tourists to come in the off season.  What’s causing the increased interest?  Namely two factors: Disney’s animated film Frozen, which showcased Norway’s beauty and culture, and social media, particularly Instagram, where pictures of the stunning scenery are drawing thousands of ‘likes.’

Two Norwegians, however, have taken it upon themselves to offer tourists a different kind of experience in the fjords — one that builds on Norway’s love for slow TV, slow food, and all things Sakte (Norwegian for slow).  But will the rest of the world catch on as well?

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“We want to be a sustainable alternative to cruise tourism,” Tone Ronning says. “It’s a contradiction. Once you become a World Heritage site, you get more crowds, and it becomes a lost paradise. We don’t want that to happen here.”

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Read the full story at Forbes.com

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Holiday Gift Guide That Goes Beyond Deals: 15 Brands That Leave A Long-Term, Social Impact

Black Friday means long lines, parking nightmares, and sub-par deals. Yet a new crop of entrepreneurs, more suited for Small Business Saturday than the insanity of Black Friday, are offering more than just deals.  Here’s a holiday gift guide that doesn’t require a trip to mall and supports a new kind of economy — driven by equity and empathy as well as profit.

See the full list at Forbes.com.

Why Wool Shoes Are Making A Come Back In New Designs

With a population of 4.6 million people and 29.5 million sheep, New Zealand has roughly six sheep for every person. And now, the wooly beasts are helping drive a new movement: farm-to-foot.

Typically, most of our footwear is made from either natural materials (such as leather or canvas), or synthetic, petroleum-based materials (such as rubber, plastic or cloth). Few manufacturers opt for wool, though. Yet, unlike other natural materials, wool can absorb moisture, is breathable and offers a sustainable alternative to rubber, making it perfect for use in footwear.

 

Apparel companies are already taking note. Swiss brand Baabuk now sells wool sneakers; following a recent successful Kickstarter campaign for $170,000, the brand will launch its first US e-commerce site later this year. London-based Mahabis, which sells to American customers online, makes a wool slipper that transforms into an outdoor shoe with a detachable rubber heel. Head of content and partnerships at Mahabis, Alice Apsey, said the clever design has brought the company £10m ($13.1m) in revenue in two years.

Read the full story on The Guardian.com

This Idaho-Based Eyewear Company Is A Small Business With A Global Reach

Three brothers run Proof Eyewear.  In 2010, they started with $5,000 each, working from a garage-cum-office. Today, they’re an Idaho success story selling their glasses in over 20 countries around the world.

“You probably don’t think of Boise when you think of innovative start ups,” says COO Tanner Dame.

But Proof is proud of its Idaho roots.  “We really love our town and where we’re rooted is a big part of it,” says Tanner.

Looking to reinvent the eyewear industry, the three Dame brothers, Taylor, Brook, and Tanner, are experimenting with different materials for both prescription and sunglasses, and giving back to the global and local community.

In 2009, they concocted the idea of a wooden eyewear brand.  A year later, they jumped in, launching Proof.  “This was way before wooden eyeglasses were trendy,” says Tanner.  “Till then there had been only a handful of companies producing wooden frames, some of them dating back to the ’60s in California and others being more like art than fashion.”

Read the full story at Forbes.com.