Appalatch Outdoor Apparel Company
Mariano deGuzman & Grace Gouin
Tell us about your business.Appalatch was founded in Asheville, NC by myself, Grace Gouin, and Mariano deGuzman, two people passionate about making a change in the apparel industry. We met through a local clothing business and immediately began discussing an ideal company that carried both environmental and social issues at its core. To begin we created a completely domestic supply chain and developed relationships with our partners to ensure that our products are made in a responsible and transparent manner. We contract with local textile manufacturers and also create pieces in house with machine and by hand. After a year, we began dreaming about the benefits of having a knitting machine to simplify the supply chain and create custom fit knits for customers. We soon launched a crowd sourcing campaign and funded the machine we were dreaming of. With the machine, we intend to expand the range of knitwear goods. Over the coming years, we hope to purchase additional knitting machines so we can scale way, way up.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.Appalatch’s office is located just outside of Asheville, NC in the Echoview Fiber Mill, which is an eco-friendly, living wage-certified animal fiber processing mill. Through the use of solar panels and geo-thermal wells, Echoview leaves a light footprint on the environment and is the first manufacturing mill to be Gold LEED certified. While the spinning of our yarn still takes place in mills throughout North and South Carolina, we hope to be able to eventually use yard made by Echoview to create our products. The Appalatch office is a collaborative workspace combining traditional office needs, with design/sewing space, as well as a complete setup for the fully fashioned knitting machine.
What inspires you?While ethics and sustainability are what drive us, we draw daily inspiration from the place we live. Appalatch was, and is, inspired by the rich heritage and craftsmanship that is definitive of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachia. The Appalachian Mountains are abundant in natural beauty from waterfalls and rivers to the incredible variety of flora and fauna. The people that live in these mountains also inspire us with their history and knowledge that often spans generations. Here, there is a do-it-yourself mentality that either makes craftsman of the highest caliber, or mountain pioneers in tune with the landscape and the wilderness that is constantly creeping in. Appalatch strives to bring this beauty, simplicity, and sense of hardy durability to life in our creations.
What makes your business stand out?Appalatch has developed a process to produce custom fit sweaters, made in America, through a process similar to 3D printing. Sweaters fit perfectly to individual measurements, are sustainably sourced, and are made 100% in the US. Appalatch has also taken a revolutionary approach to creating and selling our clothes by working directly with our suppliers thus cutting out the middleman and driving down costs compared to retail stores. We refuse to make low-quality clothes or charge outrageous prices.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Follow your gut, follow your strengths, and follow your passion. Follow your gut - when you are starting up you’ll be developing relationships with folks who will make up your value chain, and you’ll have to take a leap of faith since most of them will be new relationships. If you get a feeling that a relationship might not work out or that someone is “too good to be true”, we suggest listening to that feeling and saving your time, or at least proceeding very carefully. Follow your strengths - you’ll have to wear so many hats when you get started, try to make at least some of these hats ones that you feel comfortable wearing. Follow your passion - this will give you strength when the days feel too long, the goals too far away, or the obstacles too high. If you are working toward something you care about deeply, or something you would want to be doing no matter what the cost, it’s easier to keep your head down and power through.
What does American Made mean to you?To Appalatch, American made means delivering honest, high-quality clothing based on four criteria: time-honored, democratic, durable, and ethical. American made clothing should be made without compromising on quality, style or ethical responsibilities. US apparel manufacturing was once the best, most highly innovative industry on the planet. Unfortunately, this has changed and in the last 20 years the US has lost 80% of apparel manufacturing jobs. Luckily, Appalatch has found people with extraordinary skills to partner with to make time-honored, ethical clothing that customers will be proud to wear for years to come. We have taken a revolutionary approach to creating and selling our clothes by not only manufacturing all products in the US but through using only natural, sustainable fibers produced in the US. We want our American made products to stimulate local and national economies and also to provide long-term value for our customers.
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