SANTA CRUZ — Three women who met at the local gym and in yoga classes have turned their great environmental concerns into a sportswear business that aims to help solve global water shortages, one village at a time.
It’s a mighty vision for PUSHunderground, which promises “the world’s most cutting edge and functional sportswear.” The domestically manufactured clothing line is made largely of recycled plastic bottles and, to complete the company’s environmentally focused mission, the trio has pledged to use 10 percent of their profits to build wells in impoverished villages.
“We’ve pooled our savings together to start the company,” said Logan Williams, who co-founded the company with personal trainer Chelsea Good and yoga instructor Meaghan Barisone. The next step is financing their dream.
Last week they launched a crowd-sourced funding effort on Indiegogo.com, (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pushunderground-sportswear-with-a-purpose) a website that matches individual investors with ideas and their creators. Five days into their 50-day-long online campaign, they had raised more than $1,200 toward their goal of $10,000. They hope to raise enough to fund the production of an initial run of American-made clothing made primarily from recycled materials.
The company has prototypes for socks, headbands, T-shirts, shorts, capris, and specialty items for Bikram yoga such as bandeaux bras and pocket shorts for men. The products are all athlete-tested for comfort.
Williams, who used to own Pushpa Yoga Collection, a yoga wear company she launched in 2010 while living on the East Coast that primarily sold clothing from India, said she was inspired to solve the comfort problem of typical sports wear at the gym and in yoga classes.
“I saw people tugging and pulling and I went home to sketch what people would need,” said Williams who is an avid Bikram yoga student. She wanted to make sure there was no pinching of binding. “It’s important to me that clothes are extremely comfortable.”
Nick Campi, 29, a Campbell resident, testifies that the clothes are just that. Campi, who is into CrossFit training and the kind of races that incorporate walls, mud, water crossings and trenches, said he got the job as clothes beta tester because he’s brutally honest. Not everything worked at first, but eventually the company got it right, he said.
“Functionality is the main focus,” Campi said. “I rock her shorts and shirts all the time. I wish I had more of them.”
The women are hoping to get products on the shelves by February for retailers and Internet sales. Several products incorporate fibers made of recycled plastic soda bottles known as “post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate” or recycled PET fabric. It is an increasingly popular highly wickable material made from processing, spinning and weaving the materials of recycled plastic bottles.
“You would never think it would be (comfortable), but it’s silky smooth,” said Nicole Duke, a competitive athlete, yoga teacher and owner of the Bikram Yoga Aptos studio where Barisone teaches and Williams is a regular. Duke has been an early adopter and retailer for the PUSH line as it’s evolved and says the material is “like a second skin” and has become a bestseller at the studio. “They’ve nailed it,” she said.
At PUSHunderground.com, visitors can read extensively about the plastics problem and the Texas-size slurries of plastic floating in oceans and the company’s mission to help build wells in impoverished communities where fetching water is a near daylong venture for inhabitants.
Earlier this year, the trio participated in the first annual “Think Beyond Plastic” event, an international competition for entrepreneurs with products, services, materials and infrastructure solutions to reduce plastic pollution. Corporate sponsors included Rolling Stone Magazine, Apogee Digital and Bonnaroo.
“I hope in a year we will be somewhere building a well,” Williams said. “We’re very inspired by the Tom’s (of Maine) model of giving back.”
So far, the company has five interns and some part-time and contract help while the founders balance the launch and hold down other jobs. If the company gets funding, there are more designs slotted for production.
“I really wanted to help boost the American economy,” Williams said. “I wanted to be in a situation to bring jobs back to the country.”
Follow Sentinel correspondent Jennifer Pittman at Twitter.com/jenniferpittman
WHAT: A privately owned company that plans to sell originally designed, domestically produced sports apparel made with recycled materials. The company promises to use 10 percent of profits to fund the creation of clean drinking water wells around the globe.
HEADQUARTERS: 308 River St. #18, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
INFORMATION: (703) 577-2767; http://pushunderground.com
HISTORY & LEADERSHIP: Founded by Logan Williams, a former history teacher and yoga clothing retailer; Meaghan Barisone, a yoga instructor; and Chelsea Good, a personal trainer.
EMPLOYEES: The company employs a few contractors and interns.
FINANCIALS: The cofounders pooled resources to get the company going and launched a crowdsource-funding site Oct. 2 on Indiegogo.com. To pledge, visitwww.indiegogo.com/projects/pushunderground-sportswear-with-a-purpose.