Sword & Plough

American Made Since 2012

Emily Nunez & Betsy Nunez

Denver, Colorado
Sword & Plough is a quadruple bottom line bag company that works with American veterans to repurpose surplus military material into stylish bags.

Tell us about your business.

Emily & Betsy Nunez were born into a military family at West Point. At Airborne School, Emily heard about the challenges that veterans face and as the only ROTC cadet at Middlebury College, she became keenly aware of the civil-military gap that exists in the U.S. She was also conscious of the incredible amount of surplus military gear that goes to waste. Emily was inspired to create change, and she and her sister Betsy saw bags (accessories used by almost every person in their day to day life) as a tool to implement that change. Sword & Plough recycles thousands of pounds of military surplus material that would otherwise be thrown away. We combine these durable fabrics with leather accents and incorporate them into fashionable designs. We work with manufacturers that are run by and/or employ veterans, and we direct 10% of our profits to veteran initiatives, thereby amplifying a core aspect of our mission. S&P embodies a revolution in made in USA sustainable fashion, veteran employment.

What makes your business stand out?

While there are a variety of organizations that focus on veteran initiatives, no one recycles military surplus on a large scale, or works to employ the original users of such surplus material. Simply put, there are no other fashion companies operating today that offer our quadruple bottom line (people, purpose, planet, profit) level of impact. We have developed a brand that works to simultaneously promote veteran employment, strengthen ties between civilians and military personnel, reduce waste and turn a profit. No company has made a significant push at bridging the civil-military gap, nor has done so in a way that incites brand loyalty and enthusiasm from users with no connection to the military. We have created a desirable product with a powerful mission for positive social and environmental change that attracts an incredibly diverse group of individuals.

What's the best business advice you've received?

As we have grown over the course of the last year, we continue to receive invaluable words of wisdom from our 'Army of Advisors,' without whom, we would not have gotten this far. The Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, judges at the Harvard Pitch for Change Competition, MassChallenge, and TOMS' Start Something That Matters Foundation have all been incredibly inspirational. For our team, it has been less about a single piece of advice, and more about the collective support we have received. Knowing that there are so many other successful groups and individuals out there eager to help a young and growing business has been incredibly motivating. We set out each day to ensure our decisions reflect Sword & Plough's core mission, and it is our hope that we will one day be in a position to share our own experiences with a younger generation.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 9, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    Vote now
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

    Buy tickets now

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