The Nature Collective Instagram Takeover
The Nature Collective peeps are truly one in a million. We are super excited to have them takeover our Instagram account for the day, and we asked them a couple more questions to get to know them a little bit better. Enjoy!
How did you get started in the apparel game?
It all started with a backpacking trip into the San Juan Mountains, our local national forest. Every time we step into these mountains, we are blown away by their beauty and grandness. We feel that awe will continue no matter how many nights we spend in that alpine, but during this particular trip, we were discussing an overwhelming desire to create a driver that would allow us to give back to public lands like the San Juan National Forest. By the time we made it out of the woods, we realized that the driver was going to be nature inspired shirts. The decision to head in this direction was based on the idea that it would be free marketing for the environment.
We thought, if we can focus our designs around a message and cause, someone from The Nature Collective community can buy one of our shirts, wear it out in public, and possibly get asked about the design and purpose. In turn, that customer could share the message that we are trying to spread for our public lands and the environment.
What’s your idea of a perfect day in the shop?
The perfect day we could possibly have in the shop would be not going into the shop…haha. In all seriousness, we love the business side of things. We have grown to really enjoy the learning process and as we watch ourselves grow, of course we get excited about the impact we can have in the future. You know, right now we are a really small operation with a small impact, but we see ourselves doing so much more with growth. So waking up and getting into the shop is so easy for us. On the other side, we do this for two reasons-- to give back to our public lands and to fund our adventures. It's this weird balance because the busier we are, the more funding we have for adventures, thus the more adventures we want to take, and yet that requires us to leave the busy shop. Ideally, when we get to the point where we have happy managers running everything, we can disappear into the backcountry for a month a few times a year. When we are out of the backcountry, we can focus our time around the giveback part of the business. That would be the life!
Until then, we do find a great balance of getting orders shipped in a very fast manner, while also getting into the backcountry. We actually offer free shipping on powder days in the winter, or while we are on multi day raft trips in the summer. This is because it is the only time our community might see a one or two day delay in shipping. The USPS hasn’t invested in drop boxes on the Colorado River, and we would like to keep it that way!
We can’t ignore an Instagram takeover like this as well. This is another type of day that hits the all time “great” category. We are so young right now, so it’s not so much about the sales as it is the community growth. Don’t get us wrong, the sales are a driving factor and a very important one, but we also understand we have limited products for our community (for now!); so to see those follows on Instagram, likes on Facebook, and email list sign-ups tells us people really dig what we are doing, and want to follow along and stay tuned to our future products. Community growth is the stage we are at for sure.
Why do you like printing on Allmade tees?
Our mission: “Each one of our products is a project that we set out on, pushing beyond the limits of what’s known to be the standard, and working towards that collective for a socially and environmentally responsible outcome.” So many of today’s companies have been building a structure for years on how to run business in a socially and environmentally responsible way. So we feel, as a new company, we can’t try to have a responsible production, it’s more of a must. In our eyes, there is simply no excuse not to. Forty years ago, outdoor garment and apparel companies took their production a step in the right direction and have been ever since. It’s our job to reach for the next step.
With every one of our products, we want to see what “limits” we can break within responsible production. Of course, t-shirts may be the easiest project we will ever set out on thanks to Allmade’s role. On our “Media” page on our site, we wrote an article called “Death by Apparel.” It is basically our notes on the research we did when we decided to dive into the apparel world. There are so many dark practices that we didn’t know about and we figured many others didn’t know about either, so we turned it into a blog. But those notes really almost made us drop out of the apparel business before we even started. Instead, we went back to the drawing board and realized that, if we are going to make shirts to help the environment, we can’t destroy the environment in the process. This was really where our values formed as a company.
So on this new hunt for more socially and responsibly sourced apparel, we found Allmade. To be able to know the source of our materials, know the factories, and know the distance traveled for everything, really went above and beyond what we thought possible. It gave us an outline of what to seek out for all other products we get into.
How do you bring greener practices into your shop?
This is where our projects really take off. We don’t manufacture our products, obviously. Our part in making sure we are pushing limits in “responsible production” revolves around the research we do on our vendors. For example, we print at a Certifiably Green Denver shop that uses water-based ink. This is an alternative to the plastisol ink that can be toxic to the local watershed. Knowing our print shop goes above and beyond, and is certified, is all part of our due diligence. We even ship our shirts with a 100% recycled post consumer content paper mailer, rather than the plastic bag standard.
We mix “green production” into our umbrella of “responsible production.” We feel one area, such as green production, is a lost cause if we are ignoring the social side of things (another reason Allmade made this easier for us by focusing on both).
We use an open production method on our site, sort of like an open kitchen. Through “Our Impact” on our site, you can find The Shirt Project. It dives deep into our full production from the Organic Cotton Sourcing (thanks Allmade) to the packages we ship our shirts in. Responsibility and transparency go hand in hand. It also helps us know we are doing something right. If we are proud to share our production with the world, we know it really is something different and more responsible. On the other hand, if we feel we need to hide a part of our production, we really need to step back and ask ourselves why that is.