Last March, Intuit’s LoveALocalBusiness.com competition awarded a $30,000 small business grant to SailProud Apparel, a Boston-based eco-apparel company that creates clothing from recycled landfill materials like plastic bottles. The company was founded by then-college seniors Phil Tepfer and Charles Bogosian in 2007 with $25,000 in borrowed funds from family members, and became a quick success. SailProud’s revenues were in the mid-six figure range for 2010.
Intuit’s grant money is now helping the company to expand even more quickly. “Intuit’s grant has helped us to reach out and connect with our community better, develop several new products, and really spotlight our business in the hustle and bustle that is the apparel industry,” says Tepfer.
SailProud put a portion of the grant money towards sponsoring a booth at Boston’s GreenFest environmental festival last August. More than 75,000 environmentalists attended the event, and it provided an ideal opportunity for SailProud to reach their target demographic through face-to-face interaction. The company even manufactured limited-edition GreenFest shirts, made from recycled plastic bottles, for the event. “We removed nearly 90,000 cubic inches of landfill space in making them,” Tepfer says.
The company also invested a portion of their grant money into product development, spinning off a new product line called BeProud, which focuses on yogawear. They’re now in the process of developing an apparel line for cyclists called GearProud, with consulting assistance from Duct Tape Marketing.
Finally, SailProud is using the remainder of the Intuit grant to work towards a goal that will benefit both the company and the environment: to recycle one million cubic inches of landfill space into shirts by Earth Day (April 22). “This goal isn’t just focused on boosting production,” says Tepfer, “but it’s a way to prove to the world that environmental change on a large scale is possible — and that we can do it together.”