In August 2007 on an airplane travelling from Dubai to South Korea, myself and my fiancé at the time, sat considering our future plans.
Airplanes do give you the idle time that sometimes wouldn't exist elsewhere in our hectic lives. We decided that we wanted to take positive action to enhance the consumer market. Fashion was to be our outlet and the process began.
Over the ensuing 2 years and 3 months I set about researching, learning, stumbling, failing and succeeding. It may or may not come as a surprise to you but all these were inevitable. I was at the time an inexperienced idealistic, yet creative entrepreneur setting out on a journey I had no idea would take me to where I am today. Excentree the name was born within a few hours, it was something that seemed to have always been with me and it fitted. Our green yet off centre clothing line had just the right name. Yet the name, as well as a meeting with a Korean artist, friend and now Excentree designer, Yuli, was the only thing that was really born for a while as I beavered away learning as much as I possibly could about fashion, clothing, processes, the environment, cotton, designers, web design, stylists, the list is endless. Fortunately after 12 months of intense study I emerged from the books and computer screen, and I was ready to move forward, or at least I thought I was. I had it; we were going to produce organic cotton t-shirts with simple motifs printed to order, and plant one tree for every one hundred t-shirts sold. It was not long before I realised that the reality of quality and the necessity of style, could not be achieved in this manner.
I wanted to produce small to make sure we didn't create garments that we didn't have a market for. The problem was trying to get a manufacturer with the correct credentials to work with a new fashion label on such small quantities. We were not only looking for small quantities we were looking for a producer with the correct ethical credentials. It was not easy but with some hard negotiation and reassurances from us that we would continue to work with the producer, we brokered a deal and I will be eternally grateful to our producer for having the faith in Excentree.
Since August 2008 our vision had grown and we wished to provide one tree with every garment, which would guarantee our customers a reduced Carbon Footprint of up to two tonnes. We also wished to keep the Excentree label within the category of affordable for all. During my research I had noticed that many organic, eco products came with an inflated price tag, this was not going to be the Excentree way. We would reduce our margins and take less profit to achieve our goal of providing organic, ethical and eco fashion garments at affordable prices while not compromising on style or quality.
It was not until August 2009 when I met Rob that our project began to really become a reality. It was like magic; Rob was the man with the TREES. A Roman philosopher said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." We spent the next months collating every piece of the diverse puzzle that we had gathered from every corner of the earth during the preceding two years and put it together. We produced a small range of high quality organic cotton tees for women and men with meaningful artistic motifs by Yuli and a more jovial theme by myself. We were finally able to meet all our organic, ethical and eco desires. All garments are made from organic cotton, one tree is provided with each garment, the hang tag is made from seeded paper, a donation from each sale goes toward the Excentree GIVE Foundation and all the garments are limited edition.
The start may not have been overly original, white t-shirts with motifs, but the quality of the package was exceptional, and we all have to start somewhere. Excentree will be involved in eco fashion for many decades to come, and although don't expect to see the extravagance of designers such as Alexander McQueen, or the elegance of Coco Channel just yet, there is a chapter in the Excentree book that will read, "Pushing the Boundaries".
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