Interview with Ms. Jenny Olsen, CMO, UNTUCKit


For this blog post, I was able to reach out to Ms. Jenny Olsen the Chief Marketing Officer at UNTUCKit. UNTUCKit is a clothing company that focuses on men’s button-down shirts, designed to be worn untucked. Throughout my previous blog posts, I have spoken on sustainability and the growth of eco-conscious manufacturing within the fashion industry. Ms. Olsen was kind enough to speak to me on the phone regarding her position at UNTUCKit. 

First, I asked about her thoughts on sustainability within the textile industry as a whole. She responded saying “Sustainability is something the fashion industry has been lacking with many notable exceptions. There need to be massive changes in fashion around the area of sustainability. It is not at a point where consumers are demanding, so it is likely a cost a consumer is going to bear.” Ms. Olsen pointed out the fact that as of now, any efforts of creating more sustainable products typically cost more to companies than using cheaper goods. Due to this, the cost of manufacturing a more expensive but sustainable product will fall on the customer. She further spoke on the age of Coronavirus, where consumers are caring much more about the financial cost of a product as opposed to the ecological effects. 

I then asked Ms. Olsen about the impact of Coronavirus on menswear, and the worldwide transition to working from home. I pointed out that as these changes happen, many individuals still are seeking to look presentable for online calls and meetings. Ms. Olsen replied by stating: “Our brand was built on a more comfortable and casual men’s shirt, and on this day, the Coronavirus has proved to be a massive social experiment and a lot of people are realizing that work for companies can work from home.” Further, we spoke on how UNTUCKit is the name you think of when considering untucked men’s button-downs, and she said: “The story of UNTUCKit is making a normal product, and invent a new category. It’s not requiring a wholesale behavioral change if you can get something that is a little different but meaningfully better, if you can effectively own the category you will see huge success.” Ms. Olsen pointed out that there will be competitors after this pandemic, but their marketing helps us. 

She then talked spoke on the impact of her previous work at Pepsi which she has carried over to UNTUCKit. She said: “any time Pepsi spends money on marketing, it helps Coke. This marketing is expanding the Cola industry, and in turn, was both benefitting us and our competitors.” She then said how the growth of casual menswear by other companies would help UNTUCKit. According to Ms. Olsen “we all used to hate the name UNTUCKit, it’s not sleek. But now when other companies are developing their brands, we are the genre, our name is synonymous with untucked men’s shirts.” 

After this, we went back to speaking on the topic of sustainability, and I mentioned the company that UNTUCKit is incubating; Fair Harbor. Ms. Olsen provided a great lesson in marketing with her analysis of Fair Harbor’s strategy. While marketing Fair Harbors clothing (made out of recycled water bottles), they realized that marketing their swim shorts as a sustainable option was not as effective as marketing them as a more comfortable bathing suit, with a better liner than the standard mesh option. Ms. Olsen told me that by marketing a product as better than the rest and then adding that they were sustainable, as an added bonus, Fair Harbor was able to greatly increase sales.


Overall, I really enjoyed my conversation with Ms. Olsen. Not only was I able to gain insight into an industry that I am interested in, but by speaking with a professional in the field, I was able to gain a much greater understanding of business and marketing strategies for clothing. 

Abstract Expression in Sustainable fashion

In an effort to branch out from my typical media exposure during quarantine, I decided to watch an hour course on abstract art. My father has a passion for abstract art, so I thought I would expose myself to it, in an attempt to greater understand the significance he places in these pieces. 

The course provided a short explanation of the history and significance of abstract art movements throughout time. It was really interesting to see how art can be done without a necessary focus. It spoke on Jackson Pollock, and how he simply cleared his mind and at that point, was able to create works of art, by letting go. I then worked to create some abstract expressionist works on my own 8.5 x 11 paper. While my drawings did not necessarily denote anything, it did feel good to take my mind off the craziness of the world right now and just surrender myself to the movement of my hand. This really allowed me to slow down and appreciate that things don’t have to be perfect. 

I can find many similarities in the work of abstract art and that of the fashion industry and specifically the strive for sustainability. While we may be seeking a solution now, as long as we surrender our impulses to control everything around us, we can begin to move in the right direction. The fast-fashion market of on-demand clothing could certainly take notes, given that people feel the need to have specific things at that given moment. Jackson Pollock’s paint drippings took extremely long periods of time, and while they may not seem to make any sense, in the end, they are great works that took time and dedication to not giving up on his ideas. If we are to create a more conscientious textile industry, we must first allow ourselves to resist the impulse to find a specific solution or direction and work towards a goal without becoming defeatist.

Finding The Similarities in All Entrepreneurship

By reading the blog posts of my classmates, I was able to gain a new perspective on industries that I did not know much information about. Jared Mollica’s blog was about Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Throughout his blog, I noticed how as society grows, especially with the growth of technology, people want to know more and more information about celebrities and the entertainment industry. While reading his blog, I realized that the entertainment industry can somewhat exemplify many of the problems within society today. Underrepresentation of minorities, ceratin social topics are considered a major problem, and laws have come down hard on these topics, while others are completely overlooked. I found that the main similarity between my blog and Jared’s was that as people become increasingly socially conscious, there is an ever-growing demand for this conscientious market. Whether it is increased equality in blockbuster movies or equal pay for all textile manufacturing employees, society has taken a notice to underlying problems. 

I then read Hayley Canell’s blog on wearable technology. She spoke on the increasing demand for such products, as people care more about their health and the frequency of personal information received. I noticed that while our blogs covered different topics, they both were on the future of clothing to some degree. While my blog speaks on how to better make products that already exist, and do so in a more eco-friendly way, Hayley’s blog focused on the invention of new technology, and not necessarily the reinvention of current goods. The technology in Hayley’s blog is one to directly help society and people with their everyday tasks, while sustainable fashion is more oriented to the Earth and being conscious of the waste associated with clothing production.  

When comparing both of these blogs to my own, I realized that within all of these topics, people always want more. Whether it is information, celebrities, information about celebrities, or working towards a cleaner planet, there is an exponential curve of societies asks. It is hard to put into words but essentially, we are not content with what we have, and this reasoning allows companies to invent more and create different goods and products to appease people.

My entrepreneurial abilities

IDEAS: 

  1.  Hair cream that dries excess water in hair.
  2. Tinder but just for your college – called Uup? 
  3.  A pH strip type ring that tests for drugs in drinks.
  4.  Heated neck gaiter.
  5. Social Media network directly for college classes.

After taking the Entrepreneurial potential self-assessment by the Business Development Bank of Canada, I learned a lot about my ability as an entrepreneur statistically speaking. While my score was 153, below the average,  I do not think that this defines me as an individual within the business industry. I have previously learned about the concept of being born as an entrepreneur as opposed to developing it as a skill, and I firmly believe that entrepreneurship is developed. I feel that this concept relates directly to the idea of nature versus nurture, but as stated, these skills are learned. As we grow up, we learn from individuals and mentors around us about the way the world works, and how to find motivation within ourselves to strive for more. On the assessment, my motivation score was 58 as opposed to the average of 62, slightly below average. To me, motivation is one of the most important parts of being an entrepreneur. When I was looking at the definitions of these categories I realized that many of these categories are intertwined with each other. Just because I may not be as motivated when confronted with stressful situations, does not mean that  I don’t work my hardest with ideas and problems that I care about. 

As an individual who was born with anxiety, I have always struggled with mental blocks when seeking to find solutions for problems. I think that this has directly influenced my scoring and how I answered the questions on the assessment. Still, I think that my anxiety can prove to be very beneficial when working in an entrepreneurial mindset. Almost all of my scores were slightly below average, so with improvement and learning more about entrepreneurial concepts and ways of thinking, I believe that I can become a much more effective thinker and worker within the business industry.  Over time, I think that my growth and knowledge through college, and learning more about prospective industries, I will gain confidence and motivation to succeed to a greater level than I am capable of now. 

The Effect of Social Media on Sustainable Clothing

Ideas:

  1. Sustainable Fashion with inclusive sizing.
  2.  Bamboo kitchenware to be used in the Muhlenberg dining hall. 
  3.  Biodegradable clothing hangers.
  4.  Coasters made from recycled rubber tires. 
  5.  Personal solar powered dorm room composting unit, i.e. a compost powered flower pot. 

One of the main causes of such rapid growth and outreach within the sustainability industry is the involvement of social media. In an age where seemingly everyone we know, especially younger generations are using social media platforms to conduct their daily activities, the rise of applications like Instagram and Snapchat has changed the course of marketing. While the constant awareness of information and seeking factual legitimacy is a blessing and a curse, this influx of constant technological use has benefitted the cause at hand. With the growth of social media, dawned the age of social media influencers. These individuals, typically credited with fame due to frequent posting, and often are perceived as very attractive towards the general population of their followers. Many female influencers such as Kylie Jenner have promoted the rise of fast fashion and similar markets. According to a study by Hitwise, the UK’s leading data insights provider, “The Fast Fashion industry has grown 21% over the past 3 year…” sites like “PrettyLittleThings is the fastest growing brand on the web – seeing a 663% increase in web visits” (1). Clearly, social media marketing strategies are capable of bringing enormous volumes of web traffic. While these fast fashion sites have used the power of social media to proliferate the effect of ecological damage from clothing, other companies who seek to improve the environment have also gained traction. 

Within my personal life, I follow the clothing brand Patagonia, in purchasing their sustainable outdoor wear, and on social media. From my experience, Patagonia does an exceptional job in providing outreach to many environmental issues, while still promoting their brand. The online magazine Medium explains this very well as: “ Lots of brands use multiple platforms to promote themselves, but Patagonia does a really good job of utilizing specific platforms for what they do best” (2). Across their various platforms, Patagonia does a great job of diversifying the information they are sharing, whether it is fundraisers, blog articles, or initiatives to improve our ecosystem. As opposed to many large scale manufacturers, Patagonia takes a personal approach to their company’s social media use and caters towards those looking at the brand, and those specifically seeking to promote environmental activism. Furthermore, I really like how Patagonia uses its platform to shed light on lesser-known organizations within the sustainability field. Their view is less on them as a clothing company, but through outreach, it provides an incentive for consumers to purchase their products. Within my own ventures of entrepreneurship, the example that Patagonia has set as a large corporation is much more appealing to the niche market that follows it. By integrating their products and their passion, they have grown successfully, without losing positive intention.

  1. http://www.netimperative.com/2017/06/rise-fast-fashion-industry-catwalk-retail-shops-see-21-growth-3-years/
  2. https://medium.com/@vmcgowan/how-patagonia-is-doing-social-media-right-b3bc6e1b06d7

Technological Advances in the Sustainable Textile Industry

IDEAS:

  1. Multivitamin for hangovers
  2. Body size to clothing size conversion app
  3. Phone thermometer attachment ( LIGHTING / USB ENABLED)
  4. HEATED DENIM JACKET
  5. SELF CLEANING MUG

 The growth of the sustainable fashion industry directly correlates to growth in the technology used to produce such products. Most clothing that is produced in a cheap and trend focused manner uses inexpensive materials. Often, the textiles used in this production are cotton and polyester, or in other words less environmentally conscious. Many companies and innovators are working to find ecologically conscious ways to produce fabrics, and methods of producing existing materials with less harm. 

One of the most controversial materials used in the production of textile goods is leather. PETA and various other environmental organizations have made frequent efforts to promote awareness of animal cruelty, and the production of animal leather. Beyond the effect on the animals slaughtered,  the process of “ turning skin into leather also requires massive amounts of energy and dangerous chemicals, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them cyanide-based” (1). Clearly, our frequent usage of leather must be curbed in an effort to develop a more sustainable fashion industry. 

 In response to this ongoing issue, many startups and larger companies have begun using vegan leather as an alternative. These products are “from 100% natural materials in laboratories. For example Modern Meadow produces leather from yeast cells that are fermented in ways similar to beer making” (2). Many innovators are actively seeking more effective ways to produce vegan leather, given it does not have such longevity of use when compared to animal leather. 

Beyond the problem we face due to the unethical production of textiles, the fashion industry simply loses money due to the nature of the good. Some clothing items don’t sell well and so they are often trashed or gotten rid of. An article by CNN emphasizes that “the industry, valued at around $2.4 trillion, loses about $500 billion each year due to the lack of recycling and clothes that are thrown away before ever being sold, according to the UN” (3). The industry does not regulate itself and unless innovators are willing to work with larger companies to develop new strategies to make more effective usage of the goods we produce, we will continue to harm the enviroment. 

  1. https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/leather-industry/leather-environmental-hazards/
  2. https://eluxemagazine.com/fashion/when-technology-meets-sustainable-fashion/
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/27/business/technology-fashion-sustainability/index.htm

Sustainability Regulations

  1. Noise reduction paneling for college dorm walls.
  2.  An app so you know when students in your class are studying the material, to better build group study techniques. 
  3.  Erasable wall marker to decorate dorm rooms.
  4.  Student-run dorm room cleaning service.
  5.  Some way to reuse cardboard on campus, because of AMAZON.

When most individuals think of sustainability in the fashion industry, the most commonly associate terms like “recycling” and “organic material.” Sustainability has a much wider span in the textile industry than the materials used in production. While we are accustomed to the working conditions in the United States, many other nations have not met the same standards. Frequently, we hear a greenwashed account of the progression that is being made by larger companies to provide a more sustainable brand and product. 

Many smaller agencies and initiatives are working to shed light on one of the most prominent concerns regarding eco-friendly products: Human rights and worker safety. One of the cheapest places for companies to manufacture clothing in Bangladesh, which has been an epicenter of media coverage, especially since the 2013 Rana Plaza Collapse. When an 8 story manufacturing plant crumbled, 1,100 people died and 2,000 were severely injured. Due to this tragedy, the Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh was created, legally ordering better conditions within manufacturing facilities. “In 2018, the Accord reported progress on 84% of remediation measures to reduce life-threatening safety concerns, such as proper fire exits and alarms and structural factory retrofitting.” (1) The effects of this incident have caused waves beyond Bangladesh as well. 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a multinational group adopted a set of guidelines in 2017 addressing; “some of the most salient topics in the garment supply chain: child labor, forced labor, workers’ wages and collective bargaining agreements.” (1). While many groups are working to improve working conditions, in developed nations, the appeal of fast fashion still remains a prevalent issue. The goal of profit maximization matters more to large corporations as opposed to consideration of ethical values. We must seek to decrease costs of clothing and manufacturing, after making the necessary changes to ensure worker safety. Using sustainable materials has grown increasingly important in the textile industry, but overall, human safety should still be the key concern in regards to ethical production. 


  1. https://www.sustainalytics.com/esg-blog/moving-the-fashion-industry-forward-regulations-and-industry-tools/
  1. https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/why-regulations-arent-solving-the-fashion-industry-s-environmental-problem-9a50be4c2843

Interpreting Our Knowledge of Sustainability.

Ideas

  1. Weekly shoe cleaner on campus ( I would bet that on average, more students wear white shoes every day than not)
  2. Personalized tie-dye Muhlenberg sweatshirts
  3. Some way to put a hammock in a dorm room, this might be personal though.
  4. Backpack but with an inflatable pillow cover, that you blow up like a balloon.
  5. BAC tracker that fits inside a pop socket. 

Growing up in a developed nation where a major focus of environmental stability is around the sustainable usage of materials, I have always presumed that people took into account the impact we have on the Earth. I learned that “the concept of sustainability was first developed in 1972 at a United Nations conference.” (1) The more that our society ‘needs,’ the faster we deplete our environment of its natural resources. When considering what humanity does actually need, I focused on clothing, a basic form of protection against the weather and the environment. As societies grow, especially within the past decade, we took this idea and transformed it into many wants. The concept of trends and fast fashion has taken the world by storm, without considering the repercussions. 

In terms of sustainability, this form of manufacturing is considered to be a serious issue. As with any societal problem, activists and entrepreneurs have found their own ways of addressing the issue at hand. As I am interested in developing my own fashion line within the future, I sought more information on what draws consumers to sustainable clothing. A study conducted by The Department of Textile Engineering, Istanbul Technical University provided many answers, by aiming “to determine the level of awareness of consumers about sustainable fashion and understand various benefits, they are seeking for.” (1) 

The results of the survey found that male individuals with higher levels of income were the most knowledgeable and attentive to the importance of sustainable clothing. According to the survey, “Some aspects of sustainability were much more favored by the participants such as “Usage of organic material”, “Recycling”, “Fair production and selling” and “Reusing of products”. The highest scoring group, the high income class, only had answered correctly “35.6%” (1) of questions on average. 

From the standpoint of an entrepreneur looking at this data, creating more awareness of the benefits of sustainable fashion would directly improve the response to a product within the field. Furthermore, a product targeted at an affluent male would likely elicit the most profit. 

(1) https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1757-899X/254/17/172024/pdf

Introduction to Me

 IDEAS

My name is Jack Slomin and I am currently a Freshman at Muhlenberg College. I have always been interested in the fashion industry, as it is one of society’s most basic yet complex forms of personal expression. In the past, I have used old clothing of mine, in addition to thrifted items, to create cut and sew designs. Beyond the creation of my own clothing, my passion for the outdoors has further provided an outlet to learn about sustainable clothing. Companies like The North Face, and Patagonia have sparked a large movement in environmental activism. While these efforts have been relatively new to the industry, they have not gone unnoticed. 

While I was working on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, many of my required merit badges involved the concept of sustainability. As I grew older and began to read fashion blogs more often, I realized how detrimental the production of clothing can be to the environment. I believe that our ever-growing society must recognize the environmental effects of such basic items in our lives. Clothing is typically one of those things that we take for granted and only perceive as a material good, rather than items that majorly impact the environment. For example, the production of a pair of cotton jeans requires an average of  2,108 gallons of water? (The Hidden Water in Everyday Products) While my background of the outdoors and interest in fashion provide me a basis of knowledge on clothing sustainability, I believe it is a necessary step towards a greener future. 

My blog will seek to provide a young individual’s perspective on sustainable clothing, especially from a generation that has gained momentum in environmental activism. Looking at technological and societal advancements in this industry, I hope to further my knowledge on the topic and contribute to my community’s understanding of the importance of the environmental effects of clothing production.