If you think about sustainable fashion, conscious consumption or the circular economy, you’ll want to meet Stacy Flynn of Evrnu. Evrnu collects cotton garment waste and turns it into new fiber for premium garments.

Stacy knows the textile and apparel industry. As an industry insider with such companies as DuPont, Target and Eddie Bauer, she was responsible for millions if not billions of yards of fabric being produced. However, on a 2010 trip to China, Stacy had a chance to see first-hand the kind of environmental degradation that textile production was creating. She told me “I was shocked awake.” Stacy made a decision to create innovations for sustainable fashion. She felt that she either had to take responsibility for none of the environmental impact, or all of it. This heartfelt decision eventually led to the founding of Evrnu.

In this compelling interview, Stacy tells the story of how Evrnu went from “three beakers and a dream,” to “what looked like dental floss” to a prototype of Levi 511 jeans. She talks about the struggles of inventing a new industry, while dealing with massive corporations and trying to fund new inventions. Stacy tells the unvarnished truth about what it’s like to liquidate your retirement, max out your credit cards and to be on the cusp of an industry revolution.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Stacy Flynn

“30% of all clothing in the world is made from cotton.”

“[It takes] 700 gallons of water to cultivate enough cotton to make a t-shirt.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘In the United States alone we dispose of over 14 million tons of garment waste’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Right now consumers are throwing 80% of all textiles and apparel directly into landfills.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“When they see a garment with an Evrnu logo in it…they will know that it’s made from old clothing and that it’s garment recyclable.”

“That’s really the challenge: how do we leverage the waste in our local communities to create new fiber and create good jobs?”

“What really caused the catalyst for this innovation was a trip to China that I took in 2010.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It was shocking to me how devastating the environmental conditions were.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I was shocked awake.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“I ended up counting how many millions of yards of fabric…or billions, I had created up to that point. And all of a sudden I became linked to the cause of the problem.”

“I got to the point where, either you take responsibility for all of it, or you take responsibility for none of it.”

“I took those three beakers and my dream and I took them into major retailers.”

“When you’re a social entrepreneur, you cannot see failure. All you see is the path that must happen. And it’s not just for me and my business. It’s for everyone on the planet.”

“I liquidated my retirement fund, we maxed out both of our credit cards to get to what looks like dental floss.”

“We took the first fiber and we turned it into yarn. We dyed the yarn by hand. We wove the fabric by hand. And we presented hand-loomed salvaged denim to Levi’s.”

“I was in the global top 5 of the green challenge in Amsterdam. It was the first time a textile or apparel concept had made it that far.”

“Our technology specializes in taking garment waste, breaking it down and making fiber.”

“Even with all of its imperfections, it was like a baby has just been born and it’s in the form of twins: one 511 for them and one 511 for us.”

“We’re able to move really fast. That’s one benefit a startup has.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We were able to create the fabric of the future in less than three months.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“We need to protect air, water and soil at meta levels. That’s a non-negotiable. It’s game over if we don’t do that.”

“20% of global water contamination comes out of the textile industry.”

“The challenge is, how do we double our capacity over the next ten years, using only the resources at the current capacity today?”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I want to be the first billion dollar social purpose corporation.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“Business is the single largest catalyst for positive environmental and human change on the planet.”

“There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something in the world. But a social entrepreneur only needs one reason why they should.”

“The social entrepreneur is not looking for the easy route because they’re not working for themselves. They’re working for everyone.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Never be afraid to risk everything to see it through.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘In order to change the system, customers have to care.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Programming Note

One piece of consistent feedback that we have received from listeners of Social Entrepreneur is that, while listeners love these stories, they have a hard time keeping up with three episodes per week. As one listener told me, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” So, we’ve made the decision to move Social Entrepreneur to a weekly podcast with new episodes every Monday, starting this week.

Culture Shift Learning Academy

Later in June we will be launching a Beta version of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to http://tonyloyd.com/assessment and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

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