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)

Women-Led Trekking Company Challenges Social Norms In Nepal

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In Nepal, a social enterprise is employing a for-profit and nonprofit hybrid model to finance the country’s first and only women-led trekking agency. 

Note, Nepal is ranked as one of the worst countries to be a female, and sits on the bottom of the Human Development Index, which measures for quality of life and the chance to improve one’s socio-economic status. Hence, to have a women-centric business, financed and led by women, is no small feat.

In the 1990s, three sisters, Lucky, Dicky and Nicy, from Darjeeling, India relocated to Pokhara in Nepal to start a guesthouse for visitors.  Quickly they learned that only Nepalese men were taking foreigners into the Himalayas on treks.  This posed a challenge for female travelers — and even some allegations of abuse surfaced. So the trio started Three Sisters Adventure Trekking where women would lead other women on treks in Nepal.

Instead of just running a business that pairs up foreigners with female Nepali guides, they also set up a non-profit called Empowering Women of Nepal, or EWN. The non-profit provides six months of free training to Nepali women interested in learning about mountaineering and the outdoors. To date more than 2,000 women from around the country have done the training program and many have continued on to become guides for the for-profit trekking business.

“Whether or not these women go on to become a guide, we feel it is a seed planted for them and future generations. We demonstrate that women are mentally, physically and emotionally as strong as men,” Lucky says.

Read the full story on 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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How This Company Raised $10 Million For The Environment On Black Friday

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Photo: Steve Ogle/ Patagonia

As Black Friday online sales topped $3 billion, one retailer decided to use all that excitement to buy as a way to make consumers aware of the environmental challenges ahead of us.

Patagonia announced last week that they would donate all of their sales from Black Friday to a cohort of environmental organizations — responding to the recent election and a president elect who doesn’t believe in climate change. Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, estimated that they would have $2 million in sales. Instead, they fetched $10 million. “The response was beyond expectations,” she said. “We heard from many of our customers calling it a ‘fundraiser for the earth.’”

Read the full story at Forbes.com

 

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.

How One Self-Funded Home Decor Brand Is Challenging Big Box Retailers With Their Supply Chain

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Last month, Target decided to pull all the bedsheets, manufactured by one supplier in India, Welspun Inc. Could this be the beginning of a transparency revolution at big box retailers?

“I’m surprised that Target was surprised about their bedsheets not being Egyptian cotton,” says Scott Tannen, CEO and co-founder of Boll and Branch, an organic cotton home essentials brand. “There isn’t enough Egyptian cotton being produced for global demand and that’s pretty well known in the industry.”

Egyptian cotton, once highly-regarded for their long fibers, is rarely produced in Egypt any more.  According to the US Department of Agriculture, less than 1% of the world’s cotton supply comes directly from Egypt. It’s largely marketing, says Tannen, when companies tout their bedsheets as the highest-quality Egyptian cotton. “It sounds nicer to think of it as cotton, growing in small farms on the banks of the river Nile. In reality, it’s a company-owned 4,000 acre farm in China.”

Turns out, Target wasn’t the only one in the dark. Walmart and Bed, Bath, & Beyond also sourced their “Egyptian cotton” sheets from Welspun India. Both retailers are now questioning, and rethinking, their business with the manufacturer. For Welspun, which reportedly brought in nearly $1 billion sales from American retailers last year, this is could be crippling for the business.

Read the full story at Forbes.com