We did it!
We finally have some of our own product on the site... Nothing makes us happier than promoting the sustainable and ethical companies we love and trust, but we've always had the itch to create our own stuff and finally we can say we're making strides in the right direction.
With the help of online accelerator program Factory45, we were able to seamlessly source materials, factories, suppliers, you name it, with sustainability and ethical production at heart. Shannon Whitehead founder of Factory45, collected everything she learned from starting her own sustainable company and decided to create an online accelerator course to help other passionate entrepreneurs in the eco-friendly world. For anyone with a desire to learn anything pertaining to sustainable production, this course is a gold mine!
We initially had plans to start ODC with our own line of off-duty model basics, but after some thought, we decided it was a smarter choice to focus on one piece and do it well. Enter the perfect white tee. Our hope is to expand on the wardrobe staple in the future, once we really get the hang of things.
The Perfect White Tee
Living in New York City certainly has it benefits, especially for those of us who work in the fashion industry. There are plenty of manufacturing options available, but trying to get your own products or garments made can get a little pricey, especially if you hope to do so in an ethical and sustainable way. That means we had to make a few compromises throughout this whole process, but regardless of that, we promise to continue being open and honest about our methods and practices. That is our main goal.
If a company produces their clothes overseas but works with a factory that takes care of their workers and ensures proper wages, that's great! We'll promote that kind of work. If they use sustainable materials but may not be fully transparent about their factories, we'll still promote them, but we'll let you know they don't disclose the factories they use.
When it came to deciding on the production process for our perfect white tee, we knew if if we were going to use cotton, we'd make sure it was organic. And since organic cotton uses a vast amount of water to produce, we decided it was best to source the material locally to ensure we weren't using an excess of water in addition to flying the materials overseas and increasing our carbon footprint. Ethical production was also a big concern, so we chose to use a factory in Brooklyn, giving us the freedom to check in on the production process and meet the people who were making our clothes! By using organic cotton we compromised on water waste but made sure to use a factory that was open with us about their policies.
Surprises along the way...
In addition to chasing the perfect factory, it was important for us to get the fabric right. One thing we learned, though, was that it’s very hard to find a supplier who is open to working with a new company with low production minimums. Luckily, through Factory45, we were able to find a supplier in New York City’s garment district who had organic cotton sourced locally from Texas. (I will note, however, that when I asked to learn more about the actual cotton farm, the supplier didn’t provide further information. The experience taught me to be more diligent about getting as much information as possible in the future, and I pledge to do that to my best abilities from here on out.)
Eventually, , we were able to agree on a price that matched our budget and brought our sample yardage into the Brooklyn factory to do a sample T-shirt. Pro: we had this 'test' before we ran full production. Con: I hated the fabric once I felt it in t-shirt form.
So... what next?
Rather than going back to the drawing board and buying more sample fabric, I decided to buy wholesale T-shirts from Groceries Apparel, a company I already knew and loved. Groceries Apparel will remove their tags and add yours, and the best part about them is the fact they are extremely transparent about their production process. They have lovely white tees that would rival any of your faves, they’re made with organic cotton and they’re manufactured at their factory in Los Angeles. A perfect match for the ODC perfect white tee!
We were also able to find a water-based ink printing company locally in Brooklyn along with sustainable fabric for our labels, sourced in Canada.
Sustainable is sexy...
The next phase in completing our perfect white tee was deciding on a design that would both promote the ODC brand and work as the perfect white tee you could wear with anything. We also wanted it to include a message people would be proud to wear and support.
Rather than using our logo, as we've done in the past with water bottles and reusable straws, we decided to use the slogan "sustainable is sexy.” To us, this takes the "un-cool" out of sustainable clothing and is a catchy slogan that people would be excited to wear. With our #sustainableissexy campaign, we’re hoping to take the edge off the eco-friendly discussion and prove to our customers you can dress stylishly, sexily and simply, all with sustainability at heart.
With our t-shirts, you don't have to worry whether or not they were made ethically. You don't have to worry if they were made with sustainable materials. We will always be transparent about our practices and how we strive to better our planet. Along with that, we’ll tell you what roadblocks we face along the way and share how we are constantly learning to be more sustainable and ethical without, of course, compromising on style.
Join our movement. Get the perfect white tee that will go with everything, will never go out of style, and is made with integrity, the ODC way!
*Article edited by Julia Brucculieri of Untangledstories