An Edinburgh resident and longtime American university friend started a clothing brand with a conscience.
Rod Farnood, 29, of Corstorphine and Colin McGraw, 28, of Boston, started Oysters Clothing during the Covid-19 pandemic with the aim of creating a clothing brand that helps conservation efforts for endangered species.
Having met ten years ago at Washington State University as business students, the dynamic duo always knew they wanted to work together but at the time didn’t know how.
They kept in touch and remained friends over the years but during the Covid-19 pandemic and with all their free time, they decided to launch a clothing brand that encompasses their love for fashion, animals and travel. .
The couple had been motivated to go for a national pet clothing line after discovering that the quality of clothing in many gift shops was poor and often not as eco-friendly as they would have hoped.
At first, the vision struggled to take off, with the time difference between Edinburgh and Boston being rather problematic.
But that hasn’t stopped budding entrepreneurs.
And soon after, Rod was already creating designs for their first three national animals and a brilliant designer was brought aboard Bali to help complete the process.
At first, Rod said: “During lockdown we both had more free time.
“We have known each other for ten years, we met at Washington State University in the United States after both studying business.
“We have always wanted to work together and combine our passions for animals and travel.
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“Throughout our travels, we noticed that many souvenirs available in gift shops, depicting national animals, were of poor quality or poorly designed. Therefore, we decided to bring a new look to national animal clothing, while giving back to saving these animals at the same time.
“Initially, we started with lots and lots of zoom calls and collaboration! We knew we had a great idea on our hands, but we took our time to get the design and look of our animals right. .
Colin added: “Rod designed the first three animals, with the look and style we were looking for. We then brought in a brilliant designer from Bali, Indonesia to further develop and design our national animal collection. Currently, we have successfully launched eight pets!
“We both saw a lack of quality in gift shops so we saw an opportunity to introduce a high quality alternative!”
Animal and ecological welfare have always been at the forefront of Oysters Clothing’s vision and the co-founders have continued to remain consistent with this approach since the company’s launch.
As a company, they have partnered with a variety of partners around the world and therefore donate 10% of their net profits to conservation efforts regarding each specific animal.
This way animal lovers know that if they buy a lemur t-shirt, their money will go to help the lemurs of Madagascar.
Of the conservation campaign that goes hand in hand with their brand, Colin said, “We always consider the environment in everything we do, in terms of the materials used in our designs, our shipping methods, as well as limiting wasted inventory.
“It’s important as we grow, improve our process and limit our overall carbon footprint.
“When we launched Oysters Clothing, we made it clear from the start that we wanted to build our brand around animal conservation. We want people to be proud of the clothes they wear, knowing they are making a difference.
“While we love our designs and our National Animal concept, our real differentiator is the fact that we don’t partner with just one animal conservation charity – but we partner with another for every animal design!
“As a result, our customers know their purchase is helping the EXACT animal they wear on their clothing.
“In the future, we hope to represent all the national animals of the world and we hope to donate one million dollars to our charities over the next five years! »
Rod says they are currently working alongside the Lemur Conservation Foundation; kangaroo charity Wild 2 Free; the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for tigers; The Sloth Institute; The Perfect World Foundation for Polar Bears; See Turtles; Grevy’s Zebra Trust and Save Elephant Foundation.
He added that: “Some of the best times since starting the business have been Zoom meetings with charity partners around the world, from Greenland to Australia to Kenya.
“We learned about their projects in the field of animal conservation. It’s one thing to read this information online, but it’s another thing to hear directly from the people involved in these conservation projects.
“We would have liked to meet our charity partners in person and see their work firsthand, but because of the pandemic, we had to rely on their web presence to assess their animal conservation efforts and conservations via Zoom.”
Getting the business off the ground was not the easiest thing to do, however.
Young Oysters Clothing has been hit with a host of delivery issues that had become extremely problematic during the pandemic.
They say, however, that they have been successful in reimbursing those who received their clothes late and provided exceptional customer service throughout.
Both Rod and Colin thanked their close community of family and friends, their charity partners as well as their customers for helping get the brand off the ground.
Rod said, “On our launch day, we had sales of $1,500! This is due to the tremendous support of our friends, families and our original charitable partners at the Lemur Conservation Foundation and Wild 2 Free.
“The support from our followers and customers around the world who believe in our mission has been so cool to watch and grow.
“Not only from orders, but also from people who buy and show off their clothes on social media, and their contribution to animal conservation.
“That was our goal in launching the brand and it’s been so cool to see it come to fruition with individuals all over the world sending us photos in their new Oysters Clothing hoodies or t-shirts.
“It motivates us every day!
“We would like to end by thanking all of our charity partners for their support and of course our families, who have supported our dream and mission from the start.”
Oyster Clothing will be offering a new summer bird collection in May and anyone wishing to support their business and conservation efforts can do so here via their website.