Eco Evie Apparel – Evie (Animals are a thing worth saving in this world)
Eco Evie Apparel is a mom and daughter small business aiming to make sustainability fun! Eco Evie Apparel creates endangered animal- inspired kids, womens, and mens shirts made from 100% recycled water bottle fabric, right in our hometown of Milwaukee, WI. Eco Evie Apparel donates a portion of every sale to help save endangered animals across the globe, by funding conservation efforts through non profit organizations.
According to 11 year old founder, Evie, “Animals are a thing worth saving in this world. If we don’t, the world would be a painting with no color or background. Animals are a feature that make this world unique and vibrant.”
Evie has donated over $800 to animal conservation programs run by 11 different organizations, and has recycled over 12,000 water bottles into our shirts!
Eco Evie started as a dream to help endangered animals.
Here’s what Evie shares about her inspiration; ever since I was little, I wanted to help save the animals who were in desperate need. Animals are like another family with even wilder heritage than a human’s family tree. All I wanted was a world of peace and life. But people, being people, make that vision of a world with animals and humans living side by side harder to reach…
Until Eco Evie came into the picture.
Before the flame of the idea was sparked, some kind girls taught me how to weave with rubber bands to make bracelets. Then came the lightbulb. My original idea was to sell rubber bracelets across the neighborhood, and donate the money we made to the zoo here but I figured that it would need to be more far reaching. So I begged mom to help found a business to help save our wild heritage. Then finally, Eco Evie was born.
I wanted to donate money to help endangered animals, knowing that a life saved would make it all worth it. I feel it is important to educate people about endangered animals so they could be more aware of all the different animals there are and the struggles they are facing. Animals can’t speak for themselves, and someone needs to speak up for them. It’s up to us to speak for these animals because they don’t have a voice in our society.
This was Evie’s story, but it reaches farther than that…
Evie’s mom, Kelly, describes their journey; Evie was diagnosed with Autism at 2 ½ years old. We were quite literally told to stop comparing her to other kids, and to leave our hopes and dreams for our child at the door. There were no promises. No promises that she would ever talk, ever participate in a regular classroom, ever become independent, or ever have a job. It was devastating and eye opening at the same time. We learned to find joy in the little things she accomplished. We learned to celebrate everything.
Evie participated in an intensive therapy program shortly after she was diagnosed, and it lasted over 3 years. I left my career in corporate retail to stay home and learn everything I could about what Evie would need. With everything we went through juggling in home therapy, group classes, school and school-based therapies, it was hard on all of us. With everything we went through, I thought if Evie ever asked me for anything within reason I would do it, no questions asked. At 9 years old, Evie asked to start a business! So I said ok!
Fast forward to today. We are living Evie’s dream. The kid who we were not allowed to dream for her future now has her own dream. It is amazing to build a business that means so much to Evie. And it’s letting us dream again. Dream that maybe this business will open doors for her, teach her life skills, and even be her career one day. Something we built together and that is so worth celebrating. We can’t wait to see what Evie’s future holds for her!
More about the business…
Kelly knew she needed to develop a product that matched Evie’s mission, so she applied her years of corporate retail and domestic manufacturing to strategizing and sourcing a recycled, sustainable, and completely US based process. Eco Evie Apparel uses REPREVE® post consumer recycled content in all their garments. REPREVE® recycles post consumer plastic into something new. Compared to making what’s called virgin fiber, REPREVE® offsets using new petroleum (what polyester is made of), emitting fewer greenhouse gasses and conserving water and energy in the process. That makes a big difference for our future.
Eco Evie Apparel also believes that in order to truly do better in the retail world, we need to have a super tight supply chain. Our fabric is created at a facility less than 200 miles from where the recycling is done, all in North Carolina. The fabric is shipped to Milwaukee, WI, where the rest of the manufacturing takes place. Shirts are printed, cut out, and sewn locally, in small batches, so we are wasting less and only making what we need. Our shirts are printed using dye sublimation, an essentially waterless dye process. The prints are heat transferred to the fabric, and this is how we can achieve incredibly vibrant colors that permanently bond with the fabric. Our shirts will never fade, peel, crack, or shrink!
Evie chooses all the animals featured on the shirts and does all the research on those animals, and Kelly does the designing, with Evie approving all the designs of course! “We absolutely love getting to see our designs come to life, just about a month later, which is an incredible turnaround time for any apparel manufacturing! In the end we get beautiful, quality, garments that use anywhere from 11- 17 ½ water bottles, for example, in our most popular item, our kids hoodies!” comments Kelly about their process.
In addition to the shirts being eco-friendly, everything else is too! Everything used to create Eco Evie’s shirts is sourced in the US, from labels to packaging! All the packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable, and notecards, business cards, and packing slips are all from recycled materials too! Evie and Kelly are committed to sustainable practices throughout the brand, with Kelly adding “We really wanted to make sure that sustainability was our main focus across the brand, so when we say we are eco-friendly, we mean it!”
Saving Endangered Animals is the goal…
There is no end to the number of endangered animals out there. There are over 40,000 different species that are threatened with extinction (IUCN, 2022). With so many species threatened or in decline, Evie chooses a new animal every other month to feature in our Limited Edition collection. We are currently featuring Tree Frogs and Flamingos. There are over 5,000 known species of frogs on every continent but Antarctica, and nearly 1/3 of them are threatened or extinct. Frogs are essential to a healthy ecosystem, and are an indicator species- their presence literally indicates the health of the ecosystem. Habitat loss, especially in rainforest regions where logging and mining are demolishing land at an alarming rate, is a major threat. Frogs are also very susceptible to disease, and certain fungus or bacteria can wipe out whole populations. Flamingos, while not technically endangered, are experiencing population decline in 4 of the 6 species, leaving them in either Near Threatened or Vulnerable status. Flamingos have been protected since 1918 under the Migratory Bird Act, but that doesn’t eliminate all threats including changes to their habits as well as human and environmental changes. Evie can’t wait to donate money from the sale of these shirts to better equip organizations that help these amazing creatures! Check out the latest collection of Flamingos and Frogs here. https://ecoevie.com/collections/limited-edition
There are many challenges eco-friendly businesses and the market in general face today. This is a critical time for consumers to be shifting mindsets from the convenience of disposable clothing and other products to quality, sustainably made items. Consumers have been trained for the last several decades that convenience rules, and we should be opting for single use items and disposable fashion that is cheap, accessible, and plentiful. While this makes for an easy lifestyle, this mindset has skyrocketed our pollution issues. The average American produces 1,700 lbs of trash each year (globalcitizen.org, 2019). The US as a country recycles less than 10% of all plastic (nationalgeographic.com, 2018). Consumers need to start being more mindful of what they buy, the life expectancy of that item, and what will happen to it when they are done using it. And businesses need to start educating consumers so they can make more informed decisions.
Kelly loves to help educate others on the benefits of recycling. “We talk about our process just as much as we talk about our story! We love sharing information with our customers about recycling and how we turn old water bottles into Eco Evie shirts. We want to be totally transparent so our customers know how hard we work to make a truly eco-friendly product. It’s wonderful to be able to give people hope in their recycling efforts when they see what we can turn water bottles into!”
Now more than ever there is consumer demand for eco friendly products and businesses, as well as a social responsibility call to action. Businesses have an opportunity to showcase these efforts to an increasingly concerned consumer market. And with many big box retailers closing their doors, this is the time for small businesses to take an active role in sustainability efforts and giving back to their communities. Consumers are gravitating towards businesses that are willing to share and highlight their process and behind the scenes, something that helps consumers better understand how their products are made and the way businesses make them. This is a wonderful opportunity to show exactly what sustainable practices are in place.
More businesses need to consider sustainable options when starting or growing their business. There is a real need for businesses to create and distribute their goods in more eco-friendly ways. The amount of trash created with single use packaging, products that are created to be disposable, and the transportation strain on shipping those products back and forth around the world has a huge impact on our environment. This is why Eco Evie Apparel has chosen to focus on developing a quality product in the most eco-conscious way possible, using all US based materials and packaging. Focusing on the supply chain before scaling a business is the best time to implement more sustainable practices!
Evie wants to challenge all businesses to adopt more sustainable and eco- focused practices the same as she likes to encourage all individuals to recycle and help the earth! According to the Small Business Administration, there are over 31 million small businesses in the US! That’s 31 million opportunities to do better and make a difference! We can leave our earth better than we found it, but it will certainly take all of us together to do it!
Check out our website and learn more about Evie’s story at https://ecoevie.com/