Many people who try to live an eco-friendly life struggle to find clothes that look good and are made from green materials. Enter a young entrepreneur from the Bay Area of California, now residing in the North San Joaquin Valley, named Jamila Smith who created an eco-friendly streetwear line called BE TH3 CHANGE. The t-shirts are made from 50 percent recycled cotton and 50 percent recycled water bottles.
Smith started the line because, as she said in an interview, she has “a love of eco-friendly things.” Smith “wanted to make shirts, but just didn’t believe eco-friendly tees have to have a blatant eco-friendly message.” As she puts it, “Eco-friendly clothes have to step out of the norm.”
The t-shirts are made 100 percent in the USA. Smith doesn’t want to go outside of U.S. borders to find manufacturers for her line for three reasons: she lives in the U.S., domestic manufacturing reduces the environmental footprint and there are many people out of work in the U.S. “Manufacturing in the U.S .is a win-win situation,” Smith declares.
Trying to find a domestic manufacturer that made t-shirts from eco-friendly materials was a “manufacturing headache.” It took her about a month and a half to find the right manufacturer. Part of the reason is because the “U.S. doesn’t produce enough organic cotton.” In fact, finding organic cotton t-shirts made in the U.S. was virtually impossible. Bamboo was ruled out because it’s grown in China. However, she found a manufacturer based on the East Coast that uses recycled cotton and recycled plastic water bottles. Smith points out that there are “no virgin materials used whatsoever” in her line.
The name for the clothing line comes from one of Smith’s favorite quotes by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Smith is funding the clothing line with a crowdfunding model via a Kickstarter campaign. The goal for this campaign, her second Kickstarter campaign, is $8,000 by July 18.
She didn’t meet the goals of her first Kickstarter campaign due to lack of publicity. “Nobody really knew what I had been working on. I kept it very quiet,” Smith admitted. When she started the Kickstarter campaign “there wasn’t enough exposure.” She assumed that if she created it, people would naturally fund it. “If I build it they will come, but it really doesn’t work that way,” she said. She found out that networking and getting the word out there is essential. This time around she has a video on Youtube about her line and the campaign. She also has a Facebook page and a Twitter handle.
Smith has also found that good communication is essential to crowdfunding. “I’m a really good communicator. I want people to know they’re pledging to something real.” To that end, she sends out emails thanking people for supporting BE TH3 CHANGE as soon as she can. “I want people to feel appreciated. I want people to know I can’t do this without them. That’s the whole point of crowdfunding.”
What if this round of crowdfunding isn’t successful? I really don’t want to have to do it again. I want people to have their shirts,” Smith avows. However, she is “hopeful that the project will be fully funded this time.”