For this Arizona company, garment decorating is about more than fashion; it’s a platform for socially responsible business.
They’ve also brought apparel industry veteran Pat Bojador on board as national sales manager to oversee a professional sales team with reps in California, Oregon, and Washington. “Using Bojador’s experience and that of Shah, a brand specialist who has been featured on MSNBC’s ‘The Profit,’ we’re moving beyond just emotional messaging to present a viable option to a targeted customer base. We’re succinctly explaining our mission and how it is carried forward in our products in a non-judgmental way that lets buyers know that we’re here as an alternative when they’re ready.
“We did our research and identified businesses evidencing a high level of corporate social responsibility, broke the list down by region, and prioritized them,” says Nelson. “And we’ve created three targeted videos to introduce our company and our mission to them.” The company currently has 574 corporate clients and 50 nonprofits, including Tucson Electric Power, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Comcast, as well as some 5000 other accounts. And while it is particularly interested in expanding its organizational sales, it is committed to continuing to serve customers ordering a few dozen units as well as those ordering several thousand. For this reason, it plans to incorporate DTG printing by the third quarter of 2017.
In keeping with its mission, Fed By Threads’ formal marketing programs are supplemented by a variety of community outreach and educational efforts. Besides continuing its longstanding participation in the Feeding America national hunger-relief organization – through which it has provided some 560,000 meals – and more recently its enabling of customers to earmark meal donations for local food banks, it has become involved in promoting interest in sustainable apparel. Efforts have included Nelson’s guest lecturing at the University of Arizona, working with Professor Nancy Spaulding to create an industrial sustainable garment program at Pima Community College, and serving as an incubator for young designers focusing on sustainable fashion. And in addition to designing and printing garments for the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Fed By Threads is planning a pop-up boutique with the museum that will focus on green products.
“We believe our brand message and the story behind our value-based choices hold the key to the success of our company and our mission,” says Nelson. “Our ethos and emotional connection with sustainability are at the heart of all we do. The improvements and structure have been put in place to increase the likelihood of our longevity and provide livable wage jobs. It’s about social justice and doing the right thing for people and the planet. There are people that understand what we’re doing and are galvanized by it. They’re the clients we’re looking for, but we also want to provide customers of all types with the opportunity to take the first steps toward sustainability, and our shirts are the biggest selling tool for doing that.”
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