Starting a Green Clothing Company

Interview with Adrien Edwards, Founder of TheNakedHippie

It seems like everyone is making "green" clothing today. TheNakedHippie's Adrien Edwards shares his company's principles for starting and running an eco-conscious clothing company.

Interview with Adrien Edwards, Founder of TheNakedHippie.

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

At TheNakedHippie, we like to claim we coined the term "eco-tee". An eco-tee is defined as:

  • Safe for those who harvest the cotton - it's grown without chemicals, making the growing process a safer one.
  • They make a small imprint on the earth - printed with water based earth-friendly inks, which means less waste.
  • They're inspired by a life of spirituality, "eco-centrism", and exploration!

Where does the name "TheNakedHippie" come from?

The name came about as we were sitting on the bed thinking what we were going to call ourselves. We thought that since people consider us modern hippies (hippies who enjoy modern comforts), that the word "hippie" should be a part of it, and naked because we don't use harmful chemicals in the printing of our 100% organic t-shirts, and the word "the"... that was because was a porn site. (smile)

Where is your business located?

We're a strictly internet business, but we currently live in Tampa. The goal early on in this business is to allow us to move around the world while still running our business.

When did you start the business?

The idea started in December of 2007 after my last business failed as a result of a potential deal gone south. I had no job and no income coming in. It took about a year to get everything together, I taught myself how to design t-shirts, and learned about web design. In the meantime I got a job to fuel my business. So January 2009 TheNakedHippie officially began.

What were you doing before this?

I owned a golf company that owned the HipKaddy, an unique accessory that went on your hip and carried two balls, two tees, a pencil and a divot tool.

What outside resources were helpful for you -- Business incubators, Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, etc.?

HARO (Help A Reporter Out)! Amazing! Simply put, it's a venue for reporters to get sources for their articles. It can mean gold for a business. They tell you what their looking for and if you fit, simply e-mail them and see if you get picked. A warning, though; be picky, it can take over your life.

Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?

Our business is "green" at the core. I hate to think of it too much in terms of business, but the reality is it as been extremely profitable that our passion lines up with the trend.

With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?

What makes us green also makes saves us money. Our shipping is eco-friendly. Our boxes are recycled, we often times get boxes from large stores such as Target and Walmart after they no longer have use for them. You never know what kind of box you'll get your eco-tee in. We sent out a red box with Christmas wrapping paper as the stuffing before. I wish I could have been there when they opened it. We rarely have to pay for shipping materials at all.

Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?

I know, it's almost like there's a business behind that promoting it. (laugh) I personally see the value in it, but not necessarily like everyone else does. I don't see the value in trying desperately to be active on every social media platform. Strategic targeting here is the key. You're looking for rockstars for your brand, not just anyone that will accept your request. It's great to get people to connect with you, but spending too much time and energy on it, I feel can be a waist of time. Remember the goal is not to have a thousand buddies, but rather to have 100 loyal rockstar customers.

You mention a "rockstar customer". What is that?

A rockstar customer, can also be referred to as a brand ambassador. Someone that won't just buy you're product or service, but tell all their friends, blog about it, tweet it, and post it on their Facebook wall. That's a brand ambassador. They're hard to find but when you do, it can be a huge boost to your business.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

Passion, passion, passion -- not just for business, but for the demographic you are marketing to, the product itself, and the industry your business is in. Without that passion you can only take a business so far; it's not all about money.

Nicely put, Adrien. Without passion it's just a lot of work. Thanks for speaking with us today.

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