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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Why This Outdoor Brand Is Hiring Individuals With Disabilities

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When it comes to the bottom line, mission-driven companies consider the 3 P’s: planet, people, and profit. While the first ‘p,’ planet, with a focus on producing more eco-friendly products has taken off, the second ‘p,’ people, can sometimes get lost.

That’s why Toad & Co CEO Gordon Seabury developed several programs to employ and support individuals with developmental or physical disabilities. “I thought we could lead in sustainable business practices but realized pretty quickly there were other larger outdoor brands already focused there. Our leadership role [would be] to introduce a social mission to the industry. No one was focused on the People part of Planet, People, Profit.”

The Santa Barbara-based outdoor brand uses a packing warehouse in Chicago where they employ 4 individuals with developmental disabilities. Twenty years ago, when Toad & Co started the program, Seabury was inspired by Ben & Jerry’s. At the time, the iconic ice cream company had a bakery in Brooklyn that made cookies and brownies for their ice cream. The employees were recently released inmates and the program was focused on providing meaningful work training to reduce recidivism. Ben & Jerry’s had partnered with Search, Inc. to identify the employees.

“As far as I know, we were one of the first for profit/ not-for-profit joint ventures of its kind in the developmentally disabled community,” Seabury says.

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Does Patagonia have the answer for narrowing the gender wage gap?

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The debate around fairer pay for women feels more prominent and urgent than ever. Yet, despite this momentum, new estimates suggest the gender pay gap won’t be closed anytime soon. A new report from the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take up to 170 years for the world’s women to earn wages that are equitable to men’s.

While that’s the global picture, things aren’t much better at home in the US. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2015, female full-time employees earned about $0.79 for every dollar made by full-time male employees. For minorities, the data is even more disparaging: African American women earn $0.64, Native American women earn $0.59 and Latinas earn $0.54.

Read the full story at Guardian.

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.

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

 

Why Hemp Is Still Controversial In America And A Challenge For Entrepreneurs

When this entrepreneur quit his day job to sell hemp products online, he ran into trouble with Facebook, Shopify, and more.

Why?

Hemp, though not marijuana, is often associated with it. While it originates from the same plant, cannabis sativa, hemp does not have significant levels of THC, the ingredient that gives you a high. In fact, hemp has less than .3% of THC; marijuana has anywhere from 10 to 30%.

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Yet, the plant is nutrient-rich, contributes to the health of the soil, and grows in drought climates well.  The fibers of hemp have been used for centuries to produce weaves, suitable for clothing or home decor items. Elements of hemp are healthy for the body as well, making it a popular health food and an essential ingredient in soaps and lotions.

Despite its eco-friendly nature, hemp is still not allowed for widespread cultivation in the US; rather only small-scale pilots are allowed in a few states around the country.

Gunhee Park founded Ministry of Hemp, an online marketplace of hemp brands, using his own funds, to promote hemp-based products products such as clothes toiletries and food. “Our vision is to popularize this plant and its applications among the mainstream,” he says.

Read the story at Forbes.com

How To Start A Business With No Contacts And Little Money: American Lawyer Launches Shoe Brand

A former California lawyer and television host, Michael Paratore started a shoe business with no supply chain, no formal funding, and no contacts in the business. That too, sourcing from the villages of India.

Paratore’s story is movie material. In 2012, after having worked at a law firm for nearly two years, post a career in television at Current TV, Paratore was ready for something else. “It was now or never,” he says.

With no children at the time and a supportive wife (who had a full-time salary), he began on a journey to turn a beloved leather sandal, made by artisans in villages on the outskirts of Kolhapur, into a business.

Read the full story at Forbes.com