In this podcast episode, Sebastian and Eric discuss the intricacies of running a sustainable business within the textile industry, touching on the effects of trade agreements like NAFTA and the importance of consumer education. Eric shares his journey towards sustainability, including practical changes like eliminating styrofoam and using LED lighting. The challenges of scaling sustainably while staying competitive are acknowledged, alongside the polarizing effects of political ideologies on conscious capitalism. The dialogue also covers misconceptions in sustainable fashion, the systemic issues within the industry, and the role of conscious consumerism. Eric advises on choosing natural fibers and the traits necessary for conscious leadership, underscoring the necessity for transparency and accountability.

LISTEN to this pod right here by clicking play or choose your favorite listening platform below. You can also WATCH the video podcast below that! Check out the show notes at the bottom to get more details about the contents of this episode. Enjoy!

Show notes as a general guide below. Somewhat in order and not written in perfect grammar because we want you to actually listen to the show!

Topics Discussed:

  • Eric’s Personal Perspective on Chaos
  • Impact of Trade Agreements on Textile Industry
  • Transitioning to Sustainable Business
  • Focus on Cotton and Supply Chain Transparency
  • Personal Perspective on Sustainability
  • Challenges of Scaling a Sustainable Business
  • Navigating Conscious Capitalism in a Polarized Political Environment
  • The impact of conscious capitalism
  • The evolution of business schools
  • Misconceptions about sustainable fashion
  • The importance of transparency in supply chain
  • Challenges in sourcing sustainable materials
  • Consumer actions for sustainability
  • Traits of a conscious leader

 

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Below is a transcript of the video podcast created by Seb’s Robot buddy, Zekton. He tends to make mistakes so please forgive him if you find errors or some funky sounding sentences. For the real deal, watch the video or click on your favorite audio Podcast platform above! Enjoy!

Sebastian (00:00:02) – Eric, welcome to the show. How is everything on the West Coast today? Or somebody called the Left Coast? It’s, somehow still not great weather, which is just wildly shocking. Wildly shocking. How’s it going for you over there?

Eric (00:00:19) – A little bit cooler than it’s the normal time of year. So, being, you know, half of my life is in agriculture side and half is in the apparel side. So, things are slowly going in the ground for this time of year.

Sebastian (00:00:31) – Nice. Glad to hear that. Glad to hear that. I start all of my shows by asking a question. But before I do that, I actually just want to hit something that I. That I hit you with right before we started recording. So I was like, let’s just talk about it while we’re recording, which was, you know, I said, how’s it going? And you, you told me that you were basically you said something in regards to, you know, withstanding and living in the chaos, like, what was your sentence that you said?

Eric (00:00:57) – Well, I’ve got a couple.

Eric (00:00:58) – One I didn’t tell you about. I describe my days as I juggle water some days better than other. But but yes, the world is very chaotic. You know, globally from a business perspective. So it’s it’s you know, you got to keep yourself centered and focused because it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos. And I found having an opportunity business of 44 years and on this planet now for 65 years. If you get caught up in that chaos too emotionally, then you start. It gets even more out of control. So just trying to stay centered, aware of what’s going on, conscious what’s going on. And, but it’s a time I’ve never experienced in my life.

Sebastian (00:01:35) – Yeah. Yeah I see that, I believe that. And then I mentioned to you I was reading this book last night called The Way of the Superior Man, and it talks about the polarity between the masculine and the feminine. Even though it refers to a man and a woman, it doesn’t necessarily mean man or woman, it’s just masculine, feminine.

Sebastian (00:01:49) – But it talks about how the masculine it should withstand, no matter how much chaos that there is within the feminine, and just basically sit in it within peace. Because if you can maintain that type of peace in the chaos within the polarity of masculine feminine as a man, you’ll also be able to do that out in the world, in the business world, and in all other forms of chaos. So there’s definitely something there.

Eric (00:02:13) – For sure.

Sebastian (00:02:15) – Yeah. and you mentioned something about. Essentially a different way of catching bees with honey. But just something about you and, you know, back in the day, it wasn’t the same. Or perhaps you had somewhat of a temper and you dealt with things differently as you do today. Yeah.

Eric (00:02:31) – Oh, very much so. you know, and I think having the support and connection to community is more important than ever, because I’d also like to say not one person has the answer. You have to kind of rely on your community to be part of that, because you cannot be the expert of everything.

Eric (00:02:46) – You can’t be everywhere, everything. So having that community believes in your values and your direction is so critical and that’s so important. You know, both the designs as a small business here in Burlington, North Carolina. But then I own our farm or in the community which I live in. It just takes a lot of people that share those values to kind of make things happen.

Sebastian (00:03:07) – Yeah, yeah, I can imagine. Not that small, by the way. I don’t consider it very small to my opinion. Eric, I watched in the documentary The True Cost. I don’t know. Have you seen that doc?

Eric (00:03:20) – Yes.

Sebastian (00:03:21) – Okay, so it’s a it’s a pretty well known documentary in the sort of conscious capitalism industry, specifically in the fast fashion textile industry. So anyone out there who hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend it. But I essentially learned there that the textile industry and the fast fashion industry in general, they’re it’s the dirtiest or, you know, second worst. Yep. Second worst to the environment after oil.

Sebastian (00:03:46) – This is just mind blowing to me. When did you find that out?

Eric (00:03:52) – It goes back to the date January 1st, 1994, and that’s when North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified. So prior to that business, our customers were brands that, you know, Tommie, Nike, gap, polo and 120 people in this business. We moved in at 20,000ft². Business was great. Nafta’s ratified within two years. We went from 120 to 12. The brands could not get overseas quick enough. And then there’s been other the world trade agreements been a lot of agreements since that point. You know, we live in a global economy. We’re not going to put that genie back in the bottle. But one thing I will say that, you know, that’s really coming to my mind as I kind of live in an area that we’re at, the intersection of agriculture that’s behind me, a cotton farmer 60 miles away. But literally the shirt that I have on the day never left the state of North Carolina. So we never participate in that.

Eric (00:04:43) – Quite aware of what’s happened to global economy. Have responsibility. But I do believe, as you said, the number two, what we have given the apparel industry since the mid 90s is a free ticket to maximize their bottom line by screwing the people in the planet. And yes, there’s some brands that are dancing around the edges of some recycled polyester, organic cotton and all those little bits are good. But but those days are numbered where there’s going to be accountability for that type of behavior and maybe not my lifetime, but eventually that apparel industry and those companies will have to transition back and be more accountable for the people on the planet, or those businesses will go away. But but that those trade agreement is what calls what we call fast fashion today, the race to the bottom of cheap and the environment and the people get screwed along the way. And those days, I believe, are numbered.

Sebastian (00:05:39) – Is that when you decided to do something about it? Was that then, or was that the spark, the beginning of something?

Eric (00:05:44) – You know, that was a spark.

Eric (00:05:46) – You know, everybody told us on January 19th, everybody’s you need to go overseas and get overseas, partner. I mean, we weren’t talking about impact to people empowerment plan. We’re talking about because prior to 1994 and when I started my business in 1978, business was about the bottom line. And, but bottom line in the context of a local economy, because this was a textile community. So, I mean, when Nike’s apparel headquarters was in Charlotte, North Carolina, 60 miles from here, because that’s where apparel was made. so those trade agreements. People took advantage of them. and again, we live in a global economy. Somebody took advantage of them and did not care about impacting people and planet. But we just thought then we saw that business. There’s something wrong about leaving our community that could produce a product all here to go halfway around the world to produce it cheaper, only to bring it back to our community sale. And we laid off the people that were going to buy the product.

Eric (00:06:44) – I mean, there’s just something wrong with that picture. And, but it was I mean, we were at ground zero of the domestic apparel business and we got devastated. not only our company, a lot of companies went out. A lot of people lost their jobs. And I think Covid was a wake up call again of the weakness of a, global model when you have a global disruption and there will be another one sometime in the future. You know, we definitely have things in the world that could easily tip us over again. Right? And those economies don’t work very well, and we’re just fortunate we can do it all right here in the way of textiles and apparel.

Sebastian (00:07:23) – What motivated you to focus on cotton specifically?

Eric (00:07:30) – Again, a lot of the things our business and life was a lot. You know, I started my business at NC state just printing t shirts. In that time, there wasn’t a 5050 was 100% cotton, but it was watching what happened with with NAFTA, watching the brands and my customers go overseas.

Eric (00:07:48) – And I realized, wait a minute, we grow great cotton in North Carolina, but I can’t get it anymore. I see it in the fields, but I can’t access it. So again, the light bulb went on. We developed a relationship with the cotton farm behind me. the Burlington sun’s again, probably about 60 miles from here. God, we 16, 17 years ago, I went down there and Mitt Romney, and now I work with the son, Andrew. And I’ll never forget the first time I met with Ron, because I said because I had no. I knew our shirts were cotton. I knew it came out cotton field, but I didn’t know what. Cotton. So somebody said, you go talk to Ronnie. They do about 3000 acres. And the first time I met Ronnie. You know, he says, why do you want to buy my cotton? You know, why do you want to go to all that trouble you can? At that time, it was A18 hundred number or fax number to get all the t shirts I wanted.

Eric (00:08:35) – I said, I want to know where my cotton came from, and I want to be able to control that cotton to that finish t shirt, which we describe as dirt t shirt. And the only way to do it is make the transaction with you as the farmer. And one thing I found over the years is having the relationship with supply chain. You have a lot more understanding, value and commitment. It’s just not a price. You know those years we pay more for their cotton now that field than the market says should we pay. But it just builds a relationship. Those relationships are super valuable and challenging times.

Sebastian (00:09:09) – Yeah, yeah. From I love that from, from dirt to shirt. I had never heard that. Yep.

Eric (00:09:14) – Yes. That’s one of those things we made up along the way to kind of describe what we do.

Sebastian (00:09:18) – I love that, that’s super cool. Eric, how has your perspective, your personal perspective on sustainability changed over time? Because something that sparked for you in the 90s was, okay, this just doesn’t feel right.

Sebastian (00:09:33) – it doesn’t seem right, right, that I have to go all the way across the world and have someone else do it. And people are losing jobs here, and then I’m still bringing it back here. It just doesn’t make logical sense. But then, as time has passed, we’ve learned more and more things about sustainability and other great reasons to practice sustainable sustainability. And it’s not just about, you know, the jobs. And it’s not just about one or the other thing. Right now we’re getting to the soil and what it does to the soil when we’re not sustainable and all kinds of stuff. So what what do you think have been the major changes for you personally, you know, in terms of thinking about sustainability?

Eric (00:10:08) – Well, again, we have another tagline for that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. And what I’d like to say with that is we’re continuing to learn. I mean, there’s things that either we were not aware of. And again, you got me. When I started a business, we didn’t talk about climate change.

Eric (00:10:23) – We didn’t know the carbon impact that man was having on the planet. And, so, you know, constantly being aware, how do we improve? Because one thing I like to say, when people come visit to your designs every day, you have choices, choice of the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the energy use. That’s right. Just be aware of those choices. And again, there is no silver bullet. Perfect solution. Everything we do has an impact. But when you become aware of that impact, you take something like that. I’m having my coffee out now. We eliminate styrofoam cups out of this building over, well, 30 years ago. Something you can still buy. There might be some places for them, but it’s not in our business. Yeah, so I say small things over a long time, have a big impact. So get away with styrofoam cups, individual sugar cream. Our room lights are off now. But you know, this plant was built by an architect.

Eric (00:11:16) – Best design at the time. But it was, you know, we didn’t look at climate change. We didn’t talk about our energy footprint. We use those big flat fluorescent tubes 20ft up in the air. Now, when you come in our facility, it’s all LED. It’s only like where we want to work. It’s like much lower. So again, it’s a I think a lot of times people are looking for that, you know, what’s that that big thing I can do. And there are some big things to do. But most things, the little things that you interact with every day. And that’s again back to it’s a journey, not a destination. You know, we know we’re having an impact, but also be aware of what can we do. And I’ve had meetings all day today. We’re constantly looking how do we make our supply chain more transparent? Another thing that’s really missing the apparel industry and how do we have a better environmental impact. And again, look at the overall, not just what happens in the field behind me, but all the way again, something new.

Eric (00:12:07) – 4 or 5 years ago, we weren’t talking about the end of life. You know, I was glad you bought my t shirt sale. Good job. Now I have responsibility. What do you do with that t shirt when you finish with it? You know, now we’re talking about that circular economy. We weren’t talking about that five years ago. So just constantly being aware, being connected and being responsible and you. But you have to transition. And I think that’s that’s what’s kept us in the game for his designs has now been around 47 years. I’ve been here 44 years. And it’s you know, we’re we’re totally different. I was meeting with staff yesterday. We’re totally different business this year than we were this time last year with technology, with some of our customers, with our processes. And there’s so many things that are in transition. and we’re learning that we didn’t even know about a year ago. Yeah.

Sebastian (00:12:54) – That’s impressive, Eric. You know, and I find it I think what you said about it being a journey, it goes along for just about any business and just life in general, because you’re constantly learning new things.

Sebastian (00:13:05) – You could essentially becoming a new human every single day. So you have to consider like, what is the best that I can do with the information that I have today? Right. So and that that goes along very much so for the business. But I can see that for a business, it’s got to be so much harder as you’re looking to scale something. Right. So even back then, like you must have been getting crushed on the pricing aspect, right? So from a competition standpoint, when you’re looking to scale a sustainable business by trying to do good, doing the right thing on very many aspects of it, what’s what’s the biggest challenge when you’re looking to scale something that’s a sustainable business and you’re still trying to sell, so you got to somehow be competitive, right? So how does that how did that work for you?

Eric (00:13:51) – For us, it gets down. One thing is education. You know, we got to educate the consumer, the buyer or whatever. And it you know, when we decided not to make that transition to which would go to manufacturing, Mexico, Central America, Asia, you know, a lot of people just saw the cost savings.

Eric (00:14:09) – We weren’t talking about income inequality. We weren’t talking about climate change. We weren’t talking about the, lack of transparency. We just everybody focused on price. It was a very, very difficult conversation. Fast forward to today. That’s a lot easier conversation. And really the people that that don’t move forward, it’s either a a personal financial constraint. You know, our stuff costs more not because it’s where it’s made. How it’s made is we represent the whole cost of it or a budget constraint of their business. But I do find in general more people are aware and at least it’s, you know, they they don’t quickly say, oh, you made in USA, it’s more expensive cause you’re inefficient or what you’re doing. No, they, they’re so I think the understanding through education. So we all like say is our best customer is an educated customer. Because if you come to me and say. I want a million t shirts, but I need your lowest possible price. I’m going to say it’s not us.

Eric (00:15:07) – I mean, there’s, you know, if you’re at this point in the game and I kind of use climate change, same thing at this point in the game. You still have questions about climate change. I’m not going to sit there and debate or argue with you because I don’t. I’m going to spend that energy that I got to work with people that realize we’ve got to change. They might be doing less than me, more than me or what. But they agree there’s there’s an issue here. I want to work with those people. I don’t really have the energy to just, you know, the race to the bottom. And there’s there’s some pushback now in our political environment about businesses that care more about the than the bottom line. You know, the woke capitalists, I think, is what I’ve been called. And, I’m not here to put that, but first, I want as much information as knowledge as possible, and I don’t want to narrow down. And you know, we are not.

Eric (00:15:53) – Yes, we we talked. We were coming up. We talk about our bottom line. We talk. It’s good. It’s bad. We you got to talk about that. We’ll keep the lights on. But it’s not the only thing that drives our business. And I will not be a part of a business that the only thing we focus on is maximizing that, because that is what’s caused the problems of the day is we’ve given businesses a basically the apparel industry exam, a free check or a free pass to skip over the people and plan and just go to that bottom line and look what that’s I just it’s very frustrating. I get very as you excited about this stuff is that, you know, we are here because of that mistake. And let’s don’t go back to that.

Sebastian (00:16:31) – Absolutely. Absolutely agreed. You said you’ve been called a woke capitalist. Is that have an underlying negative tone or a positive tone? Because that sounds cool shit to me.

Eric (00:16:42) – Well, and again, it’s been more in general, I mean, it it means nothing to me to be positive or negative.

Eric (00:16:50) – I just think it’s just kind of a the buzzword at the time. But I just the whole pushback. I am concerned because I’m very, I guess, active on a political environment in North Carolina, and we’re one of those purple states and a lot of back and forth. But there is legislation that wants to limit government, especially as there, you know, investment in the pensions and not look at companies that have an ESG platform or whatever. It’s, you know, and they and again, I go back and says, I’m already going to talk about the environmental social. I’m going to talk about I want as much information as possible. Let me make a decision. If I want to invest in a fossil fuel industry, let me make that investment. But don’t restrict the information about this company or that company. Give me all the information. Let me decide. Don’t try to dictate who I should be anyway. There’s a lot of, yeah, unnecessary noise out there.

Sebastian (00:17:41) – That’s so interesting being. And it’s something that I’m not personally too involved with in the politics aspect of it.

Sebastian (00:17:47) – Right. So I served on the I serve on the board of conscious capitalism here in Los Angeles. But through that it’s more so about generating awareness, gathering events, getting entrepreneurs together, getting, you know, getting people to practice sustainably in terms of their business and things like that. But on the political side, I mean, that’s a whole different ball game when you want to get involved on the political side. And so that’s that’s got to be an interesting thing for you. And I love what you said about you’re just trying to get all the information possible, like, let’s just get all the information we can and then make decisions from there. Not based on, you know, associations with, you know, doing one thing one way or another. why do you think that that is such a polarizing topic in terms of practicing capitalism in a conscious way? It’s as if, you know, a side or a certain type of, you know, person thinks that doing that makes you hate money or something like that, right? That’s kind of right.

Sebastian (00:18:44) – It’s like that’s that’s kind of the attitude sometimes. Just mind blowing to me.

Eric (00:18:50) – It is. I mean, I try to wrap my head around it is that, you know, I respect you for where you are and what you are, and it’s not for me to judge, right. Or it’s wrong, you know? But unfortunately, there is certain people that want to dictate the narrative which the direction they want to see go. And and I think it just, it gets you going down the bad path because again, you’re, you’re, you’re restricting the information and it’s kind of, you know, I live in a, let’s say we’re it’s a very we are very Republican community. I mean this, this our county that we’re in our whole government system Republican. now our, our state government, the Republicans have super majority, fortune big support of our governor and friend of our governor. But again, I like to say is not even one party has answers. When you get that, you know, you need that perspective of both sides.

Eric (00:19:43) – And, and don’t just alienate the other side because of it’s a Democratic Republican. And I think it just it narrow and we need and again we need as many ideas and suggestions, you know, to come out and not, you know, this people that either want to restrict the, suggestions or they want to go back the way it used to be. And, yeah, yeah, it’s a strange time.

Sebastian (00:20:07) – And here’s the thing too, is that we see more and more studies are showing that brands that are doing good, whether that is because of that, the way they’re treating their employees or their people or they have sustainable practices or whatever it is that they’re doing, but they’re practicing conscious capitalism are actually doing better in the long run. So they’re actually gaining more profits because the consumers are becoming more educated. And so we’re going towards that. So ultimately, if you really just care about money, you actually can look at that too and see that these companies that are doing good are actually doing better.

Eric (00:20:41) – Very much so. I have an opportunity where we’re kind of center between some major universities, and I spent a lot of time on their campuses. And again, I was on a campus. Back in the late 70s, early 80s. And, you know, business school was about the profits and all that. You know, now business schools have evolved and we’ve got that ESG, that sustainability platform, but all the profits, money. But I, I tell these students that looking back at business models through a triple bottom line of people, planet profit creates tremendous opportunities that have we’ve pushed aside and again, I think we’re working on right now just the apparel industry, I think. In the next year or so, we will, you know, bring a model to the to the market that’s radically different looking at people planet profit. And it will make domestic apparel manufacturing more cost efficient, more environmentally friendly. I mean we dress all the issues apparel intricate. But again you’ve got to bring that holistic approach.

Eric (00:21:40) – Yeah. Because if you just bring that one little thing oh you’re more expensive there anymore. No, no. The whole the whole cradle to cradle model, which I like. Let’s get value on our a whole platform and not one particular thing that we’re doing.

Sebastian (00:21:52) – Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. What do you think is what do you think is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion? Because people are now starting to hear about that all the time. Sustainable fashion, sustainable fashion. Actors and actresses are talking about it. Right. So people in the media are talking about it. Is are there misconceptions about sustainable fashion you think that are out there?

Eric (00:22:09) – Oh, yeah. I mean, my biggest hang up on sustainable fashions is that the brands will catch one little thing organic cotton, recycled polyester. They’ll just latch on the one thing and and I, I’ve experienced this firsthand. I get on that one thing, and they don’t care about anything else. Yeah. And I think we’ve got to change the conversation. It’s it’s I want it to sustainability of your overall supply chain and not just I mean that’s organic cotton.

Eric (00:22:38) – I think it’s already been a couple of years ago New York Times at Oracle a lot of that and we buy some two. It’s certified organic cotton. And I just get a piece of paper and it comes from some developing country in Asia. And they did. I forgot what the percent. But a high percentage of that organic hop was not organic cotton really. And then you get the yeah, it’s I think Google’s organic cotton New York Times there’ll be certification. And then there was issue with the organic cotton end up being in China and the Uighurs, which is the, you know, indentured servant slaves, whatever. We’re putting it together. So, somebody was telling me about a, a product that Nike did and had a phenomenal carbon footprint. Good job. But it was using recycled polyester, which sheds like crazy aka microplastics. So, you know, I just that’s what drives me crazy is I don’t care if you, you know, it’s okay. You talk about carbon Foot, you talk about it.

Eric (00:23:29) – But again, I think there’s responsibility and accountability of the overall impact. And right now, you know, we we lack those regulations like they have you know, Europe is much further ahead on this than we are. And, and and hold brands accountable for that as we know aka greenwashing. And a lot of brands do that. They just tell that one little thing. Yeah. And that one little thing could be right. But the rest of the stuff is just a piece of crap.

Sebastian (00:23:54) – Yeah, that’s what I was going to mention. I was going to say it’s essentially greenwashing and there should be laws and regulations about around it. Yeah, should be fine. The same way there are fines about other things. Right? Yep. Absolutely. as I mentioned earlier, the textile and fashion industry, it’s a second worst industry for the environment after oil, which again, it’s mind blowing when we’re talking about it. So but without conscious consumers, we won’t really be able to solve our sustainability problems. So the big challenge of sustainable fashion or sustainable textile companies like yourself is to get people to be more conscious consumers.

Sebastian (00:24:28) – So how do you guys increase overall awareness so that consumers can make the right choices?

Eric (00:24:37) – I think just walking the talk. and pushing the window. You know, one thing that we. And and again, it’s about the journey. One thing that we did with, again, the, the, painting behind me of the cotton farmer. And we’ve always been about, you know, the transparent supply chain. Through Covid, we converted that over to a QR code. You scan the QR code. And you can connect directly with the farmer, the pitcher, and a pitcher of the individual phone number. Physical address, email. You can contact the cotton farmer. Anybody in supply chain. I wish I had a brand in here. last year. And, and again, I know we live in a global economy. I’m not saying it’s all come back here, but my call to action to this particular brand, I won’t embarrass him during your podcast is, you know, they had this very beautiful, well done sustainability report and all the stuff we’re doing.

Eric (00:25:27) – And I said, I think the number one thing that apparel industry could do toward sustainability and make your supply chain transparent, give me that facility that’s in China or Bangladesh or Vietnam. I won’t go there, but trust me enough to say, this is the facility, this is the contact. This is the phone number. This is the email. Let me have that information. I won’t give it to you. And if Little Bitty Tees Designs in Burlington, North Carolina can make our supply chain the brands, you know, they give you all this gobbledygook. We know that means either you don’t control it or you don’t care about it. But I think the and I tell again back to one thing. I asked people and tour facility. One of the first question I’ll ask him, can they tell me without looking the country of origin, the T-shirt they’re wearing that day is most people can’t even tell you the country. I said, what mistake? One least know that part and the next thing, whatever brand you support because you know it’s not big, just tell them that you want to have access to that information.

Eric (00:26:27) – Trust me with that information. But again, I think that’s step one. The consumer has to do it. Ultimately we need regulation to do it. You know, this even made in USA is a is a bunch of crap. Because legally you can have a made USA say made in USA but it can be imported fabric. and and you’ll say, well, God, why is that pair of jeans so much cheaper? Those pair of jeans. Well, they’re importing the fabric from company accent. So, I think we could go a long way. Is is making. And again, we like the idea we are not a perfect company. There’s always room for improvement, but there’s not going to be any secret where our cotton comes from or where our how our Collins processed. Yeah. and, you know, you get to see the dirty laundry with it, and we’re not, you know, the cotton behind me that is not organic cotton. We’re struggling to grow organic cotton. That is GMO, genetically modified.

Eric (00:27:19) – But, I mean, they do things like cover crops. They do no, till they do a lot of things for soil health. But I, you know, the thing I kind of, I guess, preach to the brands and say, well, we got to have organic cotton. I says, the first thing you need to do because I’m begin to talk hemp out later is, you know, you’re complaining about what the cotton farmer is doing, but you failed to meet the farm in the field to negotiate a you know, that farmer works in a commodity agriculture market. The marketplace dictates what they get paid for their cotton so that we, as the industry of commoditization, has basically forced that cotton farmer to make decisions to stay in business. So, as I say, the brands go to the field, meet the farmer, get your hands and make that commitment and and they’ll change. But to sit there and just in your office and dictate, well we got to have organic cotton is a non-starter and that will never happen.

Eric (00:28:09) – And the brands you know, and I’ve said that too many times in places, and now I’m saying with him, you know, the brand screwed up cotton, and now they want to talk all about. That’s great. Let’s don’t do the same thing with hemp. I just saying, oh, we we we gotta have it this price because you forced the farmer to make bad decision because the economic constraints you put on them.

Sebastian (00:28:30) – It’s just, It can feel a little overwhelming. It’s systemic. There’s so much. There’s so many pieces to the puzzle, right? That lead to something else. so personally, like. I’ll be honest. Right? I love I mean, I love fashion, not in the sense I’m not a fashionista, but I like to have my style right. I like my my vibe. I think it’s sometimes representative of of who you are, right? It’s part of you being creative with with yourself. And so and it’s only been a few years now that I’ve started to look for certain things, you know, when I make purchasing decisions.

Sebastian (00:29:05) – So before I let you go, I want to ask you that is okay. But without getting into the whole aspect that we were just talking about so many parts of the puzzle that need to be fixed. But just as a consumer, what is something that they can do when they’re out buying clothes? Like what? Like you said, one of the things is at least know where your t shirt is from. Yes. Right. That’s that’s one. Is there something else that could be easy? For example, I know that there’s an app that I recently learned about called Good on You. I don’t know how accurate it is. you do that, by the way, so you should check it out. But basically good on you. It’s mostly for textiles and fabrics and fashion. And you put in the brand and it tells you how they’re doing between like a, like a zero and a five on a rating. And it takes in several aspects in terms of people plan and buy whatever. Right. but is there what else other than just at least know where that’s coming from? Is there something else that consumers can actually do so they can be a little bit more conscious about this?

Eric (00:29:59) – I like to say, because, you know, again, something that we’ve created in the last 23 years, the whole, you know, issue of microplastics, I mean, it’s in us now.

Eric (00:30:07) – I mean, you and I have it in our bodies, right? so I’m big, natural, fiber focused. I don’t care if it’s recycled polyester. It’s good. We just don’t need polyester on clothes because it’s. The washing process is crazy. So, between cotton wool and hemp. Very excited about, you know, we’re not there yet with hemp in the US. I think it’s about two years or three years out. I’ve been on that journey for six years. But once we get hemp there, we bring in wool. Most of our apparel needs will be addressed, so we need to avoid synthetics where they come from, the fossil fuel industry and then the whole microplastic issue. So I would say know your brand, see what your brand is doing and and stay away. And again it’s going to help the whole circular economy and all that stuff. It’s going to be easier to process. And the problem you have when you take a synthetic and mix it with the biodegradable material, then you got an intimate thing here that you’ve got.

Eric (00:31:01) – It’s hard to break apart, but if it’s all cellulose, i.e. cotton or hemp wool, well, that’s not serious, but a natural fiber, I should say. it’s going to be much easier to, recycle and or compost than you will be with synthetics. So factor on the fibers. Next will be my suggestion.

Sebastian (00:31:20) – Right on. Well, you know, Eric, awareness is the first major step to a lot of this, right. And that’s why I bring on leaders such as yourself to raise awareness about all these things. So, you know, thank you for doing what you’re doing. And, before you leave, Eric, what are two traits that a conscious leader must embody today?

Eric (00:31:38) – Be aware and be responsible every day. I mean, just it’s gotta you just gotta be aware of what’s. And that’s the thing. I wake up every day. Just be aware and be responsible. What’s going on and and act accordingly.

Sebastian (00:31:50) – Love it. Simple. Short, sweet. Right to the point.

Sebastian (00:31:53) – Love it. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. Keep doing what you’re doing. And, yeah, thanks again.

Eric (00:31:58) – Thank you for the opportunity. You have a great day.