ARIZONA SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS ROCK THE FASHION WORLD
Sacrificing Profits To Offer Sustainable, U.S.-Made Clothing That Feeds Hungry Americansl
Tucson, AZ: Social Entrepreneurs Alok Appadurai & Jade Beall had the crazy idea to shake up the apparel world and do what very few clothing companies are willing to do: sacrifice profits in order to stand behind their beliefs! On November 17, 2012, they will host the Grand Opening for the flagship boutique for Fed By Threads in Tucson, AZ, their humanitarian clothing project, which combines feeding 12 emergency meals to hungry Americans per item sold using sustainable fabrics that are Made-In-America. How many apparel companies can say that, in this day and age?
Since they launched the company in May 2012, they have already fed over 6,684 meals through their commitments to a network of 201 food banks across the country. But in their hearts, they knew that the non-organic cotton fabrics made in other countries they had been using were both harmful to the environment and to the U.S. Economy. Sure it would have been easier and more profitable to simply outsource production and manufacturing to Alok’s father’s country, India. Isn’t that the norm in the apparel universe? Cut costs, hire cheap labor, and use pesticide-grown cotton?
In their private lives, however, Jade and Alok had been doing their best to take baby steps towards reducing their carbon footprint and supporting their local economy ranging from composting organic waste, growing fruits and vegetables on their urban farm plot, buying local foods, and generally cutting back on the amount of petroleum needed in their lives. So as they learned more about the realities of non-organic fabric production such as the fact that cotton requires 25% of global pesticide use, it became clear they had no choice but to source organic fabrics even if it meant hacking away at profit margins.
Over the following six months, Alok and Jade also learned the extent to which the U.S. textile manufacturing industry has deteriorated in the past 2-3 decades as company after company fired American workers and hired replacements in other countries. It broke their hearts. They then set out on a hunt for a U.S. manufacturer of sustainable fabrics, even if it meant Fed By Threads would see it’s costs rise. It was a matter of principle as Alok points out, “If you want to see jobs created in America, then you have to support companies that create jobs in America. It’s not rocket science.” Through luck and hardwork, they finally found a manufacturer that does in fact combine modern design and sustainable fabrics!
They didn’t stop there! Fed By Threads now uses fully compostable & biodegradable cellulose-based mailers to ship their apparel which have two adhessive strips so that they can be used twice. The hang tags they use are made from recylced paper. Their office paper is 100% recycled and then recycled when are done with it. And all of this raises their costs.
When asked about why they are doing things this way when it would be so much easier and more profitable to throw in the towel and be like most other apparel companies, Alok said, “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are usually the ones that do.” Jade quickly adds, “Fed By Threads represents a way of life we feel is important. It offers Americans an opportunity to feed their fellow Americans, protect the environment, and support American jobs.” Is it risky and expensive for them to make these difficult choices for their business? Absolutely. Is the risk worth it? Alok responds to this by saying, “Americans are telling us this matters to them! It has been so exciting to be part of the movement to shift how we think about the apparel we wear.”