Tell us about yourself – family background, personal story, education, and previous professional capacities.
I’ll keep it brief. (Laughs) Because I’m not that interesting! I’m from New Zealand. I’m 26. I studied here all through high school and university. I’m half-French. I have lived in France for a few years growing up. Basically, my background is in journalism. I was in TV journalism for 4 years, until I decided to quit about a year ago. I pursued my passion for business, sustainable business in particular.
I decided to quit the career job in TV journalism and attempt to make my own thing, and grow it from nothing.
What is the importance of ethical fashion?
It’s extremely important to me. These days it’s unacceptable to claim ignorance on any product that you buy because we are more connected, more glued up, than ever before. We know how clothes in general are made in developing countries. We know the working conditions in general are not great. We know making clothing is incredibly resource intensive.
We know that waste is a huge issue. We know all of these things. You have to be blind to not see it shared on Facebook. The knowledge is out there and claiming ignorance is not cool anymore. Having said all of that, the next logical step is to make the moral decision to consume better. I think we’re seeing more and more people who are demanding that.
So, that’s fantastic. It is something that I am very passionate about, and not just for clothing, but for coffee – anything. Any resource or product, it is incredibly important to think about where it comes from, how it’s made, and what is the social and environmental impact of that product, of you buying that product.
So, that’s, basically, what ethical fashion means to me. It’s another part of wanting to be a better consumer and wanting better products in a more just, environmentally friendly way than products have been up to now.
What is the importance of sustainable fashion?
Sustainability is crucial in the 21st century. Absolutely everything that I do, and everything that we should all be demanding from businesses, because we’ve only got one planet. We aren’t taking good care of it. We can’t afford to not take care of it. As far as we know, it is the only planet we can live in at the moment.
So, all businesses in the 21st century need to be economically sustainable and environmentally sustainable. The two need to go hand-in-hand these days. So, the garment industry is incredibly resource intensive, e.g. producing cotton. We are in an age where there’s throw away fashion. People want tomorrow’s fashion yesterday.
People only holding onto clothes for a very short amount of time. It is not acceptable, not cool. It is an incredibly unsustainable way to consume. We need to consume less. That applies to our clothes.
What we’re trying to do with Offcut is consume more efficiently. So, basically, taking something that would otherwise end up in the landfill and not generating any new fabric, it’s using the bits that are leftover to create a valuable product.
It’s a very small step, a very small part, of a larger issue, but I think it is something that we should be demanding from all clothing manufacturers that we buy from.
What is Offcut for those that don’t know? What makes it unique?
Offcut is a cap company at the moment. I could extend into other things. Basically, it started from a very simple premise. My father, who is retired now, used to be in the curtain industry. I went to his warehouse last year here in New Zealand.
I asked dad, “What do you do if these bits of perfectly brand new fabric are too small to be made into curtains?” He said, “We pay someone to come pick them up a couple of times a year and bring them out to the landfill.” Then it really started from there.
I thought it was a ridiculous thing to be doing in the 21st century to be throwing out a perfectly brand new resource. I looked at a lot of curtain fabrics that weren’t really my cup of tea as curtains, but thought they’d make really good caps.
And the good thing about caps is that the panels, the individual panels, are very, very small, and so we could use bits of Offcut fabrics from a variety of different suppliers in the garment industry, curtain industry, upholsters, and a whole bunch of industries.
That’s where the idea started 7 or 8 months ago. Basically, it has grown from there. We make 5 panel caps from Offcut and discarded fabrics destined for the landfill. We plant a tree with every cap sold in partnership with Trees for the Future.
What is Trees for the Future?
Trees for the future is a great American-based non-profit, which works with farmers in sub-Saharan African countries to grow and plant trees with them, for them. Fruit trees, it’s the awesome benefits of offsetting carbon dioxide, sequestering carbon dioxide, but they also provide fruit and income for families in developing countries in Africa.
It’s a fantastic partnership. It’s a fantastic charity. We’re very proud and pleased to be working with them to make the small step of sponsoring a tree for every cap sold.
Now, you have a co-founder and a dog. What’s their relation to the theme of Offcut Caps?
Yea! We’ve got a co-founder who’s a dog. He’s the CEO. He’s Pedro the dog. We believe he is the world’s first dog CEO. We’re very proud of him. We’re an equal opportunities employer. The three of us founded Offcut last year.
Matt is my best mate. He lives in Dubai. Pedro is another good mate of ours. The three of us got together and thought it was a good idea. We decided Pedro would be the best, not person, but dog to lead us. He became CEO.
I love hearing these individual stories. It’s not only the company, the logo, and the advertising. There tends to be a narrative for each company.
Yea, that’s right. I think we’re trying to create a strong story. Obviously, we are trying not to take ourselves too seriously. We take what we do seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. We are not planning to change the world with caps. It’s just caps, but Offcut could be an example of what a company can be in the 21st century.
We are building a financially viable business from other peoples’ waste. The hope is that we can serve as an example for people much smarter than myself that can make real differences with renewable energy or electric cars. Other sustainable initiatives. We think that’s fantastic. That’s the whole point and the Offcut business model.
That’s why the CEO is the dog.
Let’s get to the denouement, with respect to other projects, what other work are you involved in at this point in time?
I do freelance journalism work. I co-directed a film, a climate documentary, last year. It was called 30 Million. We filmed in Bangladesh. It was four of us. We were funded by the UN. I’m still involved in environmental and climate change communications as part of my passion, raising awareness around climate change.
I run another company that I founded as well last year called Bamtino.com, which is a custom furniture procurement platform. That’s about it. I’m busy with three or four different things at the same time.
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them to you?
I can only speak for Offcut. What’s important for me with Offcut? It is to be a genuine brand. I think, unfortunately, there’s a lot of greenwashing these days. People can see right through it, especially if you don’t practice what you preach. People can tear you apart.
You have to be a genuine brand that stands by what you say you stand by. It is something that I really conscious of with Offcut. With Offcut, I don’t want it to be known as an environmentally sustainable brand. I don’t want people to buy our caps because they like the sustainability side of it.
I don’t think that stands up on its own two feet. I want people to buy our caps because they are the best caps on the scene, or the coolest. The rarest and most limited edition five-panel caps that people have ever seen because they are contributing something positive to the environment. At least, they are not contributing to garments that are costing the planet or people a lot.
So, that’s how I’d summarize it, as to what’s important to me.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion
We covered everything to be honest. Again, I suppose it is what I was saying before. We are not claiming to change the world with caps, but hopefully people can get inspired by the business model and realize that in every single industry there are resources that we need to be seeing as classified as waste because we’re incredibly inefficient. Most industries can maximize using resources to their full potential.
I do hope to pay myself a salary from this, but, also, to have people look at everything they do in their industry and take steps by saying, “Wait, is there anything that we can do in our industry?” We can, ultimately, maximize our revenues streams. To maximize resources, it doesn’t only make environmental sense. It makes economic sense as well. I think there’s an incredible scope for businesses to flourish if they can appreciate that and maximize resources.