How PACT Organic Serves People and Planet
Conventional cotton uses about 16 percent of the world's insecticides and 7 percent of pesticides, and, according to the World Bank, approximately 20 percent of the world's industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles. The apparel and textile industries also struggle with issues related to child labor and poor working conditions.
PACT Organic Apparel is on a mission to change all of that: It's transforming the way apparel is made by "focusing on the people who make our clothes, and the planet," says founder and CEO, Brendan Synnott.
Synnott is no stranger to the world of social and environmental responsibility. As the founder of Bear Naked Granola cereal and EVOL Frozen Foods, he has been focused on sustainability for some time. In 2009, drawing from his experience in consumer packaged goods (CPG), Synnott turned his eye to the apparel industry and worked to apply those lessons to clothing.
"People don't necessarily think of cotton as an agricultural product. We want to communicate that and let people know there are things they can purchase and be proud of," he says.
With increasing exposure of treacherous working conditions in places around the globe — the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2013 was a particularly big eye opener — "consumers are starting to pay more attention to how clothing is made, and we want to show there is a more sustainable way to do it," Synnott says.
"We want consumers to understand that people don't have to live with pesticides in their communities and workers don't have to be subjected to unsafe or brutal working conditions." PACT Organic works with fair trade manufacturing facilities in India, and its cotton comes from India as well, via Chetna Organic, a fair trade cotton intervention program that works with small and marginal farmers to grow organic cotton and to help make farming a sustainable and profitable occupation for them.
Synnott says the company's products aren't just good for the planet and workers — they're much softer and they fit better. If the company's growth is any indication, consumers agree. In 2016, PACT Organic hit revenues of about $15 million to $20 million at retail, and this year it expects sales to reach $25 million to $30 million. The company's best-selling item is its women's leggings, and in the second half of the year the company will launch baby, toddler and women's and men's lounge/sleep wear. "All of these categories place an emphasis on soft and cozy," says Synnott, "so our super soft cotton should have a great reception."
PACT Organic sells online on its web site (its fastest-growing channel), as well as in retailers such as Target, where it launched last year, and in high-end grocery chains such as Whole Foods, Sprouts and Wegmans. PACT Organic also sells a limited range of its basics on Amazon, which it views as a great channel for introducing the customer to the brand.
"The point of PACT Organic is that you don't have to sacrifice quality and fit to do what's right for people and planet," Synnott concludes.
— Jordan K. Speer
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