Inspiyr.com recently spoke with Jeff Denby, CoFounder of PACT, an apparel company that is working to revolutionize underwear by using organic materials and donating a percentage of sales to non-profits chosen specifically for each design line. Jeff spent time with Inspiyr talking about how it all started, why there is a growing trend toward social entrepreneurship in the US, and what guys can do to turn their dreams into reality.
Let’s hear the story of PACT. How did it all begin?
It all started in Toronto where I was managing an industrial design studio and we were making a lot of products – furniture, kitchen products, medical devices – just a lot of household consumer products, and all of them were manufactured in China. Part of my job was to work with those manufacturers, and after visiting them I didn’t like what I saw. This was back in early 2000’s. There was a disconnect for me between how well esteemed we held ourselves and our designs and then how we went about getting the products manufactured – we didn’t care about that process much. We just wanted it to be cheap and high quality to get the margin we needed. I thought, “Why can’t we make these things better”? “Why don’t we care about the people making these products, and the damage it’s doing environmentally and socially?”
While I was in China I connected with a few people from Gap and a couple other clothing companies and learned the apparel business from the factory floor rather than being a designer first and then finding out later how the clothes were actually made. I was always interested in fashion and design and at that time sustainability was starting to become something that was talked about. As a consumer I was frustrated because anything made from cotton or animal textile was an oatmeal-colored, hemp yoga hippie kind of thing. I thought, “Why can’t we make things that are stylish, cool and interesting, and also organic and made properly? Why not also give back to the community where they’re made or sold?” That’s where the idea behind PACT really started – that was the pain point of the business we wanted to solve.
When I went to business school at Berkeley I showed up and told anyone who would listen that I wanted to start this organic underwear company. Everybody told