Woooooop! We’re off to a great start! In just four days, we’ve almost reached our $20,000 goal on Kickstarter. Thank you so very much for your incredible support.
We’re taking a just a short moment to celebrate because we still have a long way to go and we’d really like to smash our goal out of the park. As many of you have noticed, there are a few changes happening at Offcut to coincide with the Kickstarter. In fact, the Kickstarter is designed to catapult us into a new phase for the business. So, let’s go through and chat about the new things happening at Offcut HQ.
We have two major announcements around leather and it’s kinda ironic that one is about using more of it and the other is about using less of it. Let’s start with the obvious one: you’ve hopefully noticed on the Kickstarter page that we’re expanding beyond being a cap company and launching leather products. We’re starting with two classic luggage tags and man do they look good!
We’ve been planning the launch of leather products for years because we’ve known for a long time that, unfortunately, just like fabric, a lot of brand new leather gets thrown away as offcuts around the world. We’ve barely started looking and have already had multiple suppliers give or sell us leather offcuts. To us, it makes absolute sense to stop it going to landfill and turn it into dope products you’ll want to use every day. Luggage tags are just the beginning.
Having said that, both Dan and I are vegetarians (well, 95% of the time so technically we’re flexitarians) and I’m fully aware one of the best things we can do for the planet is to stop consuming animal products. So it may seem strange to you that I’m excited about using leather offcuts to make epic products. But for me, the logic is clear: if it’s the difference between throwing a resource out to landfill and using it, then I’d much rather use it. Hopefully one day we’ll be using offcuts from Piñatex or any of the other leather-substitutes coming to market.
On the other hand, after a lot of requests, we’ve decided to make an option for our vegan friends when it comes to buying our five panels. From today, we’re replacing the leather badge on the front of all five panel caps with vegan faux leather and replacing the straps on all five panel caps with a fabric clip and clasp instead of the leather strap. We looked at faux leather strap options but none were strong enough to live up to the Offcut quality we’ve built our reputation on. Of course, though, the suede peak options are still made from real animal leather so those are not vegan.
The luggage tags we’re launching come in two options: a traditional version with clear window for the label (which we’ll custom print for you with your details if you want us to), and a second version which is an awesome mix of the classic and the modern. It’s a classic shaped leather luggage tag, but we’re using modern laser technology to custom engrave your details directly on the leather so you can stand out from the crowds.
Offcut x Kenny Flowers Kickstarter Cap
I’m damn excited about this one: a Kickstarter-exclusive five panel made with end-of-line fabric from our friends over at Kenny Flowers. This one is definitely one for the beach! You’ll have to be quick to snap one up, though, and we won’t ever make this pearler again.
T-Shirt Offcut Postcards
The very good people of MOO have come to the Offcut party and are making these epic postcards for us. The coolest part? They’re made of tree-free “paper” from t-shirt cotton offcuts. You can’t even buy these postcards from the MOO website yet; usually you can only get the business cards from the offcut t-shirts but they’re making these postcard sizes especially for Offcut. Thanks guys!
What we’ll use the Kickstarter money for
Our core purpose at Offcut has always been — and always will be — to prevent the dumping of resources to landfill as much as possible. To do that, we need to build up scale. The last few years of business have been great, but in all honesty: we haven’t yet really had a major effect in the grand scheme of things when it comes to stopping fabric dumping.
To increase our scale, we’ve made the difficult decision to move production for our standard range of caps from New Zealand to Asia so that we can be closer to the source of the fabric offcuts we’re using. At the moment, most of our fabric offcuts comes from Asia so shipping it to New Zealand to turn into caps which we then send back out to people across the world makes absolutely no sense environmentally and economically speaking.
We’ll be working with two factories — one in China and one in Vietnam. We’ve probably visited about ten factories in Asia this year and we’ve chosen these two for a whole range of reasons which I won’t bore you with (but more than happy to discuss if you want to contact me). In short, though, we’re satisfied they both satisfy our two priorities in terms of what we need from a manufacturer, which are, in order: they treat their staff as we would like to be treated, and their quality is flawless.
Our main factory is the Vietnamese factory which has previously been audited by the Fair Labor Association and we’ll be working towards getting the Chinese factory independently audited, too. We want to become a B Corporation soon and our eventual goal is to have all our hats produced under Fair Trade certification. There’s only one Fair Trade certified hat manufacturer in the world (as far as we’re aware) and I had a great meeting with them in Shanghai a few months ago. The problem is, our volumes really are too small to be able to work with them, so we’re seeing our work with these smaller factories as stepping stones: either towards working with them to get Fair Trade certification, or partnering with the Shanghai manufacturer. This stuff is complicated but you can rest assured that the welfare of the people who make your hats is a top concern of mine.
The good news is that we’re not stopping New Zealand production. In fact, we want to grow that too. This the plan we’re working to: we want to grow the overall profile of Offcut and do more collaborations with local New Zealand brands which we’d like to have manufactured here. We’re in discussions with two well-known Kiwi brands at the moment and a collaboration with both is looking very promising. Both of those collaborations would be made in New Zealand and the volume of caps, just from those two runs, would exceed the total number of caps we’ve sold online so far this year. This is what we want to do more of.
Shipping and Packaging
As you probably realise by now, we’re constantly working at Offcut to reduce our negative impact on the planet and maximise our positive impact. One of the things that keeps me up at night is shipping. It’s exciting to see our products get sent around the world but the carbon footprint is something we have to actively reduce. It’s why we plant a tree with every product sold, but that, in itself, is not enough. As mentioned above, centralising everything to Asia will help reduce our carbon footprint greatly but there’s something else we hope to do with the Kickstarter money and that’s to go biodegradable shipping satchels.
The reason these are so great is two-fold. One: they’re compostable so never have to go to landfill. And two: they physically take up a fraction of the space our big cardboard boxes do, so that means more Offcut packages can be packed into the same space in a truck, train, plane, ship or whatever, and that results in a smaller shipping carbon footprint per item. I’ll expand on this in another blog post. I’ll miss the boxes, and ensuring you enjoy the first moment of opening a new Offcut order is super important to me, but hopefully you’ll love the design of the new bags. And, to me, a few moments’ pleasure of opening a big box which ends in recycling is not worth the extra carbon footprint.
Hope you agree! As always, we’re super stoked to hear your thoughts and feedback, so don’t hesitate to comment below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.