Bluelefant – Hemp Clothing, Made in the USA
Hello and thanks for dropping by. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you my vision for a new type of business.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.Simon Sinek
Why do you want to do this?
A long time ago I thought it might be fun to start my own T-shirt company. I like wearing T-shirts and I had a few concepts I wanted to try out. But as I looked into the apparel industry I discovered that the way most clothing is produced and marketed has a profoundly negative effect on the planet and the people who inhabit it.
I always wanted my shirts to be made in the U.S. because I believe in supporting American jobs. However, most American clothing companies outsource production to factories overseas with poor environmental and human rights records. The cotton used in most clothing is bad for the environment because of the amount of land, water and pesticides required to grow it. The recent rise of fast fashion has only made the problem worse. On top of that, the advertising used by many fashion brands to sell their clothes has been shown to have a negative psychological impact on many teens and young adults.
I want to change all of that and eliminate—or at least greatly reduce—the negative externalities caused by the manufacturing and marketing of mainstream clothing. I want to change the world, one article of clothing at a time.
How do you plan on doing this?
My solution is to make long-lasting, environmentally-friendly hemp clothing with classic designs and mainstream appeal right here in the U.S. and market it with positive and humorous branding. We’ll contract with companies already manufacturing clothing in the United States to produce our designs. Until growing hemp is legalized in the U.S. our products will be made in the U.S. from imported hemp and/or locally grown organic cotton and wool.
What exactly will you make?
At first we’ll start off with a small collection of Bluelefant™ shirts and eventually expand to a complete line of casual clothing including hoodies, jeans, underwear and more—but our priority will be to develop the first mainstream hemp polo/golf shirt under the Jolly Golferrr™ label.
Where did the name ‘Bluelefant’ come from?
The short answer is that my favorite color is blue and elephants are my favorite animal.
The long answer is that the portmanteau of the two words popped into my head one day when I was in college. I thought it was a cool name because of the way the ‘e’ joined the two words together and it also had a nice ring to it, like the name of some exotic bar in a far-off land. But over time the idea began to take on a deeper meaning for me as I realized that ‘Bluelefant’ could be a symbol of unity by bringing together the opposite sides of the many divisions I saw around me:
- I grew up in Alabama where college football is a way of life and everyone is either a fan of Auburn University, whose primary color is blue, or the University of Alabama, whose mascot is an elephant.
- In American politics, districts that vote Democratic are labeled blue while their rival, the Republican Party, is represented by an elephant.
- During the American Civil War that divided the North and South, the Union wore blue and the Confederacy wore gray—which I use as Bluelefant’s secondary color because it is the color of elephants.
- I also began to notice that almost every graphical representation of an elephant I saw was blue. There seemed to be some universal connection between the elephant and the color blue in the human mind, which I took as evidence that despite all our differences, we tend to see the world in the same way.
Later, as my idea for the company shifted to a focus on hemp, I realized another connection: hemp originated in India and Nepal where Hindus worship the god Ganesh, who is often depicted as a blue elephant.
Why hemp? Isn’t that the same thing as marijuana?
Hemp and cannabis are closely related, but only cannabis contains the high levels of THC which produce psychoactive reactions when smoked or ingested. Hemp, on the other hand, is a commercial crop grown for its seeds and fibers—which are superior to cotton in every way. The special properties of the fibers make hemp clothing naturally moisture wicking, anti-microbial and long lasting. Hemp absorbs dye better than cotton so colors don’t fade over time. It keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Hemp is silky soft—it wears in, not out. Hemp is also much more environmentally friendly than cotton because it produces twice as much fiber as cotton per acre with half as much water and without any need for pesticides.
That sounds great and all, but is there really a market for this?
Style with Substance – a 2012 report by Ryan Partnership Chicago/Mambo Sprouts Marketing – noted that despite the challenge, consumers intend to double their eco-apparel purchases this year (=2012), creating a growth opportunity for mainstream retailers. In 2011, the top eco-apparel categories were footwear (23%), active/workout wear (21%), and women’s casual wear (21%), with green options purchased by about one in five respondents. While seven in ten (69%) considered eco/sustainability at least sometimes when purchasing clothing in 2011, eco-fashion purchase intent doubled in nearly every category in 2012, with these so-called “gateway categories” reaching 48%, 47%, and 47%, respectively.
While price will always be top-of-mind, lack of availability appeared to be a strong limiting factor. About one in three (33%) of those who don’t regularly consider sustainability in their apparel purchases said they didn’t buy sustainable because it wasn’t available where they shop.
“The data is showing a strong interest in eco/sustainable apparel. This represents a growth opportunity,” said Christine Nardi Diette, group president, Ryan Partnership Chicago.
Notably, a majority of shoppers (61%) expressed interest in an Apparel Sustainability Rating or Index. One consumer said, “It would be a tipping point if I were choosing between two products of similar price and quality or might persuade me to buy the more expensive product.”
The survey shows that shoppers seek eco-conscious apparel at mainstream retailers where they shop, suggesting those products represent an immediate growth opportunity for all apparel retailers, not just niche shops.
Also, the report revealed eco-conscious consumers aren’t willing to trade fit or durability, and rank a number of “sustainable” factors at the same level of importance in their purchase decision, such as “fun” and “fashionable.”
source: Sustainable Brands
How is Bluelefant going to be different from other companies?
Bluelefant has a few different missions:
- to mainstream hemp clothing
- to support our local community and the national economy by creating good jobs
- to serve as a positive role model for other companies by championing constructive capitalism
I want to create an organization in which the workers directly benefit from the company’s success. My goal is for Bluelefant to eventually become a 100% employee-owned Public Benefit Corporation. Unlike traditional companies which exist solely to make a profit and are expected to maximize shareholder wealth, B Corps are legally permitted to act as agents of societal change. Most B Corps donate a percentage of their sales or profits to social or environmental causes. I would like for Bluelefant to one day play a role in saving the African elephant from extinction.
Wow, this sounds like something I’d really like to be a part of. Are you hiring?
What exactly are you looking for?
My first priority is to partner with an outgoing individual with experience and connections in the mainstream fashion world who shares my values and vision. If that sounds like you, contact me today!
What kind of investment are you seeking?
Anything and everything, with crowdfunding being number one on the list. As for more traditional funding, I’m more eager to tell angel investors why they shouldn’t invest in my idea. As mentioned above, the ultimate goal is make Bluelefant a 100% employee-owned enterprise which means no long-term, outside shareholders. I am, however, open to temporary ownership stakes with a buyout agreement contingent upon reaching certain growth and/or return-on-investment benchmarks.
For the time being, you can support the project by purchasing one of our T-shirts.
I’m interested in seeing where this all goes. How can I keep up with your progress?
One last thing…who are you?
My name is Brian. You can read more about me on my profile page.