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Nov 16, 2015 3:50 PM ET

Archived: New Market Goods: Together we hope to promote good design, celebrate Bangladeshi artisanship, and improve transparency in the production of clothing

iCrowdNewswire - Nov 16, 2015
Personal Story

My name is Stephen Kennedy, and I’m the creative founder of a clothing label called New Market Goods. I’m a product designer and urban planner, which means I have cultivated a passion for beautiful products that have a social impact. I started working in Bangladesh researching informal transportation there, but one thing led to another and I ended up working with a group of garment artisans. They create incredible textiles, and I’ve been so inspired by their stories. We’re excited to merge good design with heritage textiles through the brand.

I design each garment, working with a pattern maker to develop technical patterns and my grandmother to create samples. I also design all the textiles, spec’ing colors and thread counts to traditional Bangladeshi hand-operated loom techniques. For the past couple of years, I have been traveling to Dhaka to work with a community of artisans to produce a limited run of each garment (usually around 60-75 pieces per garment).

Business Description

New Market Goods is a fair trade clothing label founded in 2014. Our goods are designed in San Francisco, prototyped with my grandmother and aunt, and produced with a group of artisans in Bangladesh. Our mission is to better understand and highlight positive garment production practices in a context not normally known for ethical labor practices. We believe that “Made in Bangladesh” can mean so much more. We’ve partnered with Deshal, a community of local garment producers who have been striving to create better working conditions in their factory. Together we hope to promote good design, celebrate Bangladeshi artisanship, and improve transparency in the production of clothing.

We want to create beautiful garments that reflect Bangladeshi heritage. Our inspiration comes from the textures and colors on the ground in Bangladesh.

We are highlighting positive approaches to manufacturing in an industry that has become notorious for its extremely negative working conditions.

Because our textiles are hand-woven, New Market Goods are made of some of the most interesting textures and colors you can find. Our clothes are loved by folks who are interested in textiles with a rich heritage and unique colors that are often hard to find, particularly for men’s clothing.

To date, we’ve successfully produced our first season’s line and had successful sales online and at weekend markets throughout the West Coast. It’s been an incredible opportunity to see people react positively to both our product, our process, and our backstory. Our goal is now to figure out if a brick-and-mortar retail location will provide added value to our brand, and we think starting with a pop-up location over next summer would be a great first opportunity in our neighborhood.

What is the purpose of this loan?

This is a significant and risky, but exciting step for us as a fair trade retail business. A Kiva loan would help us (1) cover the legal and permitting costs for establishing a physical retail location ($1000-1500), (2) cover set-up / display costs for the pop-up space ($500-1000), and (3) provide salary for 3 months of retail staff ($7500). Our goal would be to triple our monthly revenue over the period of the pop-up shop, while also bolstering our online retail sales.

Pop-ups are an incredible way to test out the benefit of brick-and-mortar retail for brands like ours. They also help demonstrate the role that a vacant commercial space could fill in the neighborhood, and if things are successful, move beyond a trial period to longer-term opportunity.

For me, this would provide the opportunity to move beyond establishing the online presence of our brand and begin connecting to the community in our neighborhood directly. Nothing is more meaningful than actually getting to meet customers and share more of the backstory of your brand. It’s what makes it all worth it.

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