Kim Kirton | Co-Founder, UnCo.
Society consumes nearly 80 billion new pieces of clothing each year which contributes to over 10.5 million tons of textile waste ending up in our world’s landfills. The term fast fashion has been becoming more infamously recognized in today’s society with documentaries like the True Cost and Minimalism — in addition with celebs like Emma Watson declaring a need for a fashion revolution.
My sustainable fashion story started from a place of personal empathy — when I was supposed to be studying during my 2nd year of University I came across this YouTube Video about sweatshop fires happening in Bangladesh. I was really shocked to hear that there are actual humans making our clothes, sounds silly, but for some reason I never really thought about the story behind clothes and how far they travelled just to be in the store, nor did I consider who was making them. Being adopted from China, always gave me this sense of gratefulness as my realities could be a lot different if I never came to Canada. After learning about fast fashion, it really compelled me to do something because it could have been me in that situation.
In addition, there is something so powerful about the consumer having an active role in voting with their dollar for more sustainable and ethical products that benefit people and the planet.
So I started a sustainable t-shirt company and ran it for about 2 years, and at the time I thought it was contributing to problem. However, last summer I had a weird moment where I questioned everything and really asked myself if I was actually contributing to the problem. I thought the problem was sweatshops, child labour and not knowing where our products were coming from, but I concluded that the actual problem was consumption and how much we as a western society consume and negatives impacts like child labour, sweatshops etc. were just outcomes of the main problem.
That’s when I decided to close that t-shirt company down as it wasn’t really solving the problem but actually contributing to the issues of mindless consumption by telling people to buy this shirt because it's sustainable — versus them actually needing that shirt in their wardrobe. From that experience, it provoked my business partner Jaclyn and I to move forward with a business that had the objective to revolutionize how we consume clothes and how often.
That is when our company UnCo. was born.
Our company tackles this problem of overconsumption through an innovative method called capsule wardrobes. This method is similar to the idea of uniform wear which has been adopted by some of the most famous folks like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban. Let’s be real though ; we all know as femme folks if we were to walk into a room with the same 5 black t-shirts day after day, we wouldn’t be taken as seriously. Our company adopted this model with the fierce femme in mind and pulled pieces from the best responsibly made brands and designers that design for utility and style for the modern professional.
More and more women (1200 business a day) are starting businesses everyday yet women still struggle to obtain 4% of venture capital and less than 5% of females have mentors to turn to about advice. There's an underlying culture amongst women where we sometimes portray each other as competitors rather than collaborators in a dog eat dog kind of world. We wanted to create a new culture, where women could vote with their dollar and not only support themselves in getting a capsule wardrobe where they feel confident in what they are wearing and don’t have to worry about wasting time on trying to decide on what to wear but that they could actually support other female founders by voting with their dollar supporting those designers entrepreneurial journey as well.
The reason why we called our company UnCo. is because internally it stands for the UnCompany — we want to do everything different than a traditional company where we decide to collaborate over compete and where we focus on sustainability in every business decision we make. We wanted to strive for a progress forward thinking brand that encouraged the support of women supporting other women because at UnCo. we know amazing things can happen when this happens.
Interested in capsule? Or being surrounded by other ambitious femme folks with huge dreams?
Check out our crowdfunding campaign to learn more about what we do here.