While getting their MBAs at Yale School of Management, students Amanda Rinderle and Jonas Clark were already putting their business skills to the test in the real world. As environmentally conscious young professionals, they saw a need for eco-friendly, upscale clothing. Eco-friendly activewear already had a large market, but those clothes were for the weekends. What were they supposed to wear to work during the week?
Tuckerman & Co. got off to a kick-start
Rinderle and Clark had the idea to create Tuckerman & Co., but they needed funding. The students launched a Kickstarter campaign in October 2014 with a goal of raising $20,000 to help start their business. The funding period only ran for 30 days. In exchange for making a donation, supporters were promised rewards. A $5 pledge got supporters a thank you note, their name listed on the company website and a set of bamboo collar stays. Supporters who gave $25 got a pocket square along with the bamboo collar stays. Pledging $110 or more got supporters a shirt. Pledging $300 or more got supporters three shirts and three sets of collar stays. There was a chance Rinderle and Clark wouldn't get enough funding to start their business, and it was possible each supporter would never receive the shirts they were promised. But by the end of their campaign, they raised $30,267 from 255 supporters, and Tuckerman & Co. was born.
Focusing on sustainable production from dirt to shirt
What sets Tuckerman & Co. apart from its competitors in the apparel industry is its production methods. One third of all clothing is made from cotton, thanks to its characteristics. Cotton is breathable, soft and absorbent, making it ideal for clothing. While cotton is widely popular, it's a dirty crop to grow. Cotton production is responsible for 10% of global pesticide use and 25% of insecticide use. To compromise, Tuckerman & Co. uses organic cotton, which saves almost one pound of pesticides per shirt. The owners also use an old factory in Falls River, Massachusetts, keeping production in the United States and eliminating foreign shipping. In January 2016, Tuckerman & Co. became a certified B Corporation, proving the company has high standards for social and environmental performance, along with legal accountability and public transparency.
Learning transparency from the experts
Tuckerman & Co. only produces men's dress shirts right now, but it has its sights set high for the future. The company's three advisors are experienced veterans in the apparel industry. First is Vincent Stanley, the chief storyteller for Patagonia. He helped develop Patagonia's Footprint Chronicles, which explains the company's environmental impact on the planet. After Stanley presented at a Center for Business and the Environment event at Yale, Rinderle and Clark cornered him to ask for his feedback. Stanley encouraged them to keep going with their ideas for Tuckerman & Co., and he became one of their advisors. Anne MacDonald, the former CMO of Macy's, and John Margaritis, the former COO of Tommy Hilfiger, also serve as advisors.
Image source: www.tuckerman.co