Atayne, based in Brunswick, Maine, produces outdoor and athletic apparel. All of their products are made using the maximum amount of recycled polyester and are certified to be free of harmful chemicals. Atayne sells their products online on a made-to-order basis direct to athletes and active consumers. The co-founders are Jeremy Litchfield and Rebecca Darr.
Jeremy Litchfield submitted his plan for Atayne to our competition in 2008.
Below are interviews from 2009 and 2012.
This interview was conducted in 2012.
Erin Jones checked in with President and CEO Jeremy Litchfield to see how Atayne is doing.
Where are you located?
We are located in Brunswick, ME.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Environmental problems are the main things we are trying to solve. This is not only in terms of environmental problems of trash and waste being created, but also the environmental problems as they are linked to cancer and the toxins we expose our body to. These toxins cause upwards of 35% of cancer cases.
How did you become interested in this?
I’ve always been an environmentalist. It started because I went for a run and my shirt bled red dye all over my body. I realized the way apparel is being made is very damaging on the environment and harms people. I wanted to create something different.
What is your solution?
Performance-oriented apparel made from recycled fabrics with third party certification to show that they are free of any kind of toxins known to be hazardous to human health
Who are your customers?
We sell custom apparel to running and cycling events.
We sell direct to consumers, primarily runners and cyclists.
And we sell wholesale to specialty retailers, such as running and outdoor stores.
What are some of your major challenges?
Mostly getting people to understand. There is a very passionate group of people who understand issues around the environment and the stuff we put on our bodies. For the most part, however, they don’t. They like to tune it out and don’t understand the damage. Educating people can be very difficult.
How many people do you employ?
At any given time, we employ 6 to 10 people.
Has WJF competition and mentoring program helped you on your way?
The biggest part is the connections created. It also helped us to get feedback in designing our plan in order to actually launch. I’ve maintained contact with judges that evaluated our plan and that was over four years ago.
What other resources have you found that are particularly useful for social entrepreneurs?
We’re a certified B Corporation, which is a good community to be a part of, to connect to other companies that have a similar view over how they approach business. It is more focused on smaller companies.
I’ve also been a member of Net Impact for a long time, which is another great community and more focused on larger established companies.
How can readers learn more about you?
This interview was conducted in 2009.
Are you currently running / working with a mission-driven business? What is it called? Yes, I am running Atayne – http://www.atayne.com/.
Is it for the business plan you entered the William James Foundation Socially Responsible Business Plan Competition with? Sure is.
Who are your customers? What is the benefit you are offering them? Our target, coined the Eco-Active, is a growing base of nearly 14MM people in the U.S. who live an active lifestyle and are very environmentally and socially active. To fuel their lifestyle they demand high performing products that are aligned with their values. However, the current market offerings of performance outdoor and athletic gear are forcing them to compromise, choosing between product performance and their environmental and social values. Atayne addresses the customer problem by creating the new standard for high performing outdoor and athletic gear that is safe for people and the planet. We create this new standard by blending low-impact materials; localized manufacturing; innovative, minimalist design; and eco-active messaging. These messages are delivered through point of view graphics allowing wearers to promote their values and not just another billion-dollar brand. When you put it all together, Atayne provides the performance of Under Armour with the point of view of Whole Foods and the apparel company Life is Good.
How many people are you employing? We currently employ one person.
Where are you based? How long have you been in business? We are currently based in Portland, ME (relocated from Arlington, VA). I launched the company in July 2007 and we began sales in September 2008.
Are you looking for debt or equity investors? We are currently looking to raise $125,000 in convertible debt to close our seed round of which $175,000 has been raised to date. These funds will be used to support product development initiatives including launching a cycling jersey, shorts, fitness skirt, and sports bra as well as pursing a patent on some design features of our shorts and skirt and pursuing an exclusive licensing agreement for some emerging textile technologies.
Was the feedback you received from the William James Foundation helpful? How?
Absolutely! Having so many different outside perspectives is critical to developing a solid plan. It is very easy to get tunnel vision when you are in the trenches everyday. The fresh eyes and thoughts really help to eliminate or at least address holes in the plan. The reviewers spend a tremendous amount of time preparing the feedback. Instead of just saying this is good or bad, they give specifics. I also had a few of my reviewers facilitate introductions to potential partners and investors. After nearly 2 years, I am still in touch with many of these contacts.