Contributing Monkie G Monkie
Published on August 15, 2009
Todays exclusive interview is with the Founder and COO from the company Revenge IS. A company focused on spreading green messages on desirable recycled products to a main stream audience.
Their Mission Statement: Global warming, energy dependence, war, economic turmoil, foreclosures and unemployment – these are some of the major crisis facing our world today. Developing alternative sources, practicing “reduce, reuse and recycle” in our everyday lives, and demanding more effective diplomatic and economic policies of our government and business institutions will help. The old saying goes “the best revenge is living well.” Our belief is that, by taking action today, we can all live well tomorrow
G Monkie: Marilyn / Carly, you just started up in 2008, right in the middle of the global economic crash. Why start a company now and what experience did you have in the fashion business?
Marilyn Barrett, Founder/CEO: None. Fortunately, we have found several brilliant designers to work with who share our commitment to green eco-fashion and social justice.
The idea for Revenge Is… came to me about a year ago while taking a walk with my two favorite furry companions. The 2008 Presidential election cycle had started and the many problems facing our country and the world today were in the forefront of the news and political commentary – global warming, energy dependence, economic turmoil, and wars resulting in too many deaths and injuries. I felt angry and frustrated and wanted the people who were primarily responsible for these problems to stop…and pay for the pain and losses they caused. I know I am not alone.
Carly Miller, Chief Operating Officer: I ran Clothing of the American Mind, a socially, environmentally and politically driven t-shirt company, from 2004 – 2009, but I have no formal training or education as a fashion designer; however, I feel that often, the best education is hands-on experience, which was definitely the case for me.
G Monkie: Which designers or companies in the green fashion space have inspired you and have they influenced your business model?
Carly: The RE:VOLVE Apparel Project comes to mind because of their rapid and widespread commercial success. When part of your goal is simply to raise awareness and funds in relation to issues of importance, such as environmental sustainability and social equality, the more widespread your success, the more people you’re able to educate and inform. Green Label is another brand that comes to mind, also because of its widespread success in the realm of eco-tees.
G Monkie: Who are your favorite designers in the fashion industry as a whole and what makes them special?
Marilyn: Our Revenge Is… designers, of course – Justine Verigin and Benjamin Della Rosa.
Carly: Our Revenge Is… designers, of course – Justine Verigin and Benjamin Della Rosa. While I don’t necessarily have a “favorite” fashion designer, I have much more interest in and respect for designers working with sustainable materials. Fashion is a luxury in most of our lives, especially in the current economic climate, so designers who are trying to do some good through their designs, whether it be the message or the materials, are most intriguing to me. Most of my own wardrobe consists of vintage, used or recycled clothing and these are my favorite items to shop for – not only is it more affordable, but the benefits of recycling your wardrobe are obvious. In an era where throwaway fashion is the norm, I enjoy shopping for clothing that has a past life or history. Before it hung in my closet, it hung in someone else’s and that concept in itself is not only sustainable and good for the environment, it’s also easy on your wallet and contributes to a unique look and fashion sense that cannot be created by shopping in a mall.
G Monkie: So far, what has been good about taking this path and has anything turned out to be more difficult that you expected?
Marilyn: The best thing about taking this path is the feeling that we are making a difference, albeit a small one at this time. We have met and have the opportunity to work with the most committed, dedicated people who share our concern for the world and our belief that we can work collectively to resolve the issues facing us. The most difficult thing has been the economy. We launched the business in October 2008, essentially when the stock market was crashing. We were aware of some of the problems building up on Wall Street and had anticipated a market correction. One of our original tees bears the message “Revenge Is…Main Street At Work” with Wall Street X’d out. However, we did not anticipate that the crash would be as deep and as devastating to the American people and the world as it has been.
Carly: I would have to agree with Marilyn that the depth and widespread effect of this economic depression is proving to be our most formidable obstacle. As noted above, fashion is a luxury for most of us, especially in an economy such as this. Most people no longer have any disposable income and eco-fashion is not cheap. But for a few more dollars, you’re getting a far superior product and one that you can be proud to wear, not only for the message it displays, but also because of the environmental and social responsibility that was considered in the production of the garment.
G Monkie: How do you think the state of the economy will effect the green movement?
Marilyn: On the political side, the devastated world economy reinforces our vision that education and action by individuals is critical to resolving many of the major problems we face today, such as the economy, the environment and health care. We can’t simply rely on government and big business to fix these things. On the financial side, sales are slower than anticipated and this has required that we undertake very stringent cash management procedures
G Monkie: Why did you start with T-Shirts, why not an entire line of clothing?
Marilyn: T-Shirts are an ideal canvas for political expression. This was certainly true in the 60s and during the Vietnam War protests and is true today. Tees lend themselves to a variety of colors and designs that provide a wide array for creative choice in political expression.
Carly: I think that t-shirts are fashion’s most visible billboard. If you believe strongly enough in something and aren’t afraid to speak your mind, wearing a Revenge Is… t-shirt allows you to speak your mind without even opening your mouth and that’s a very valuable thing and can be even more powerful than the spoken word.
G Monkie: How are the clothes being made?
Marilyn: The tees are made by a manufacturer in Gardena, CA
G Monkie: How important is the price point for you? Are you tempted to produce the products in China?
Marilyn: The price point is critical. We want the price point to be affordable for people, but we also need to make money so we can expand our inventory of political/environmental tees and make substantial charitable donations to some of the great organizations working on the important issues of our day.
Carly: Our desire to turn a profit is more tied to the charitable contributions we’d like to make, versus simply lining our own pockets. It is also important to us that we offer products that people across the socioeconomic spectrum can afford.
G Monkie: Your company is focused on a straight forward green message. Does the concept of living "G" bleed over into your personal life?
Carly: My life is pretty green. At home, we have a compost and a worm farm, which helps to enrich the soil in which we grow our organic garden. In a household of two people, we share one car and though we drive it as little as possible, in LA it’s difficult to get by without a car as the public transportation system leaves much to be desired. We use CFL or LED lighting in our home and I personally unplug appliances and chargers that aren’t in use. We do other small things like washing our laundry in cold water and turning off the lights when we leave a room or the house. We live minimally as a whole, and shop locally at the weekly farmer’s market. Supporting local businesses is very important to me and its something I try to do as much as possible, whether I’m shopping for food, clothing, books, etc. When we go to the movies, we prefer the much smaller, local art houses to the commercial multiplex. This fosters a deeper sense of community because when you frequent the same places, you get to know the people who work there and your neighborhood feels much smaller when your neighbors are your friends, especially in a city as big as Los Angeles.
There are many other small things people can do to make a difference, like taking shorter showers and using heat only when necessary during the winter months. I also use reusable water drinking containers and avoid purchasing single water bottles at all costs. Everyone slips up once in a while, and know that it is ok if you do, but the important thing to remember is that while your personal actions may seem small and insignificant, think about what would happen if everyone on your block or your street or your city conserved like you do. For anyone interested in greening their lives, take small steps and focus on the few simple things you are doing, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of things you are not doing. Going green is easier than you think…trust me.
To see more of Revenge IS products, checkout at revengeis.com