We are part of a growing movement that believes businesses can actually lead the way in helping reverse environmental damage and creating innovative solutions.
We try to take a very intentional and thoughtful approach to everything in our business. Everything from the product design development, manufacturing, delivery process, and even returns. At our core, we’re a company that wants to see our customers out in the world: exploring, connecting, working, and discovering. And while we obsess over the design and functionality of our products, we’re equally concerned with our larger impact on the environment as a business.
Premium Eco-Friendly Materials
We’re dedicated to sourcing and utilizing the highest quality sustainable materials. This process is extremely time-intensive with considerable amounts of research and user-testing for durability and quality to ensure we’re offering our customers the highest quality products that are built to last. No element of our product is forgotten when sourcing eco-friendly material options. We’re not only improving upon and assessing the body and lining materials of our existing and future products, we’re looking at all aspects of our product design because every small detail counts.
We are excited to launch our first vegan leather alternative in 2022 which is made from a high-quality 100% plant-based material. We hope to continue incorporating additional sustainable materials made from plant-based fibers.
In 2020 we launched new products made from 37.4% recycled nylon. This recycled nylon is created using post-consumer and discarded nylon. Our goal is to eventually transition to using 100% recycled nylon.
Recycled Poly is a technical fabric made from plastic bottles. On average, each bag in our Recycled Poly Collection saves 31 plastic bottles from entering our landfills. We’ve diverted over 3.7 million plastic bottles from landfills to date utilizing recycled poly.
Starting in 2022, we’ll be offering a mix of recycled cotton canvas and organic canvas in our Catalina collection. This cotton is sourced from textile manufacturing partners that have been thoroughly vetted.
In 2020 all of our Nappa leather went to a silver-rated tannery but in 2021 we moved to gold-rated status audited by the Leather Working Group. This guarantees that hides are sourced in the most sustainable way and using Leather Working Group certified suppliers. For 2021, we saved approximately 96,581 gallons of water and 3,456,436 light hours using this tannery. This is equal to the amount of water used in taking almost 5,000 showers per year and the energy of toasting 969,239 slices of bread.
In the manufacturing and shipping of any consumer goods, there’s a lot of unnecessary waste from bubble wrap, protective coverings, and even hang tags. So in 2019, we started a full-scale packaging audit to reevaluate what is truly essential in our production process, limiting waste and moving towards recycled and/or biodegradable materials. We take into account an array of aspects from the design to the materials, and we’re constantly striving to eliminate as much unnecessary waste as possible while ensuring our products make their way to you in pristine condition. We have made some major strides recently, from custom designing a new shipping box for our best-selling Catalina collection to removing all foam in our wallets, and eliminating non-eco-friendly plastic coverings on almost all of our zipper pulls. We’re even working on small details like an eco-friendly string for our dust bags, and a soy-based ink for our hangtags.
Prioritizing sustainability can be complicated and costly. As a small, family-owned business, we know that our commitment to sustainability means that we will sometimes sacrifice opportunities or revenue in order to be responsible, and we’re proud to do that. We’ve already made quite a bit of progress in reaching our sustainability goals, but we’re always asking ourselves “can we do more?”. We’re always seeking ways to improve our supply chain and the lifecycle of our products. We also know that you, our customers, are conscientious and uncompromising, and you expect the same from the brands you support. As a business, we’re in it for the long run—and to us, that means honoring our planet and the people with whom we share it.
15% of our products were made with eco-friendly materials.
Our goal was to double that amount and we were right on track at 33%.
We increased the percentage of products made with eco-friendly materials to 44%. Read progress report
We made huge progress and increased the percentage of products made with eco-friendly material to 64% (up from 44% in 2020). Read progress report
Our goal is to increase the percentage of products made with eco-friendly products to at least 67%. Read progress report
Our goal is to increase the percentage of products made with eco-friendly materials to at least 75%.
We can’t do it all—at least not right now.
While we expand our sustainable practices, we know it will take time to integrate sustainability into all elements of our business—from our supply chain to fulfillment operations. As a small business, we need to prioritize rigorously. To do so, we’ve created an internal sustainability board that ensures we’re progressing and pushing ourselves to be ambitious. For example, we are working towards becoming a B Certified business (B Corp), which would mean we’ve met “the highest standards of verified environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.”
Tradeoffs are inevitable.
Materials like “vegan leather” are great for those looking to avoid animal products, but they’re not harmless. Many vegan leathers (specifically PVC) are a form of plastic; therefore, they aren’t biodegradable and they can contain harmful chemicals that damage the environment. We’ve opted to mainly use traditional leather over “vegan” leather, but we continue to research emerging resources that offer a promise of sustainability, are non-toxic, and allow us to uphold the high standard of quality that defines our products. Internally, we have to weigh this kind of tension when choosing materials, and we always prioritize with our customers’ best interests in mind.
Can’t Do It Alone
Over the years, we’ve seen a wonderful community of non-profits, for-profits, and academic groups that are all striving to solve some of the same sustainability challenges. Here are some examples of the key sustainability partners that we currently have, and we hope to add more in the future!
Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY)
Our cofounder (and one of the sons), Jan Lo, was invited to serve on the Advisory Board of the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, which trains and empowers future leaders to develop "business solutions to systemic environmental problems" from the Yale School of Management and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. With this group, Jan is currently helping to advise on a range of projects, such as how emerging technology can help to address environmental sustainability challenges.
We are very excited to participate in a Pilot program for a new service called Kept SKU. Based on the East Coast, Kept SKU works with brands to create delightfully curated surprise shopping boxes that are composed of a mix of unsold inventory that would otherwise be sent to the landfill or sit on warehouse storage shelves for years. The service also helps and provides transparent recycling paths for the inventory they can’t sell. As circularity becomes ever more important, the services Kept SKU offers are vital solutions for brands and they provide exciting new shopping opportunities for value-drive customers.