CARL LUDWIG - FIBRE FOR GOOD
Life Instyle sat down with Carl Ludwig, co-creator of Fibre for Good to discuss how he ensures his products are environmentally sustainable.
What was the spark that inspired you to start your own business?
While working as a buyer for a large retailer I discovered how much water it took to produce one tee shirt. 2700 litres of water is required to make ONE and I was selling 12,000 tees a week this totalled 32 Million litres of water alone on our plain t-shirt table per week. I knew then that this was no longer sustainable.
What were those first steps you took to launch? And what would you say was the scariest part/your biggest fear?
My first step was to quit my corporate job and find something I was passionate about. My now business partner (Fiona Su) and I took a trip to China to visit the vertical operation as we had only heard about this amazing fibre which grew in colour (What cotton grows in colour??). Initially, it did not sound real as I’d been in the industry for 30 odd years and never came across it.
I’d say the scariest part of this was believing in my self and starting a venture at 54 years old. We knew we had to reinvent ourselves to be able to add value to an already over competitive industry that was polluting the planet. We also know that there is NO turning back as we can’t continue to produce clothing the way we currently do.
Tell us a bit about how you design/ make your product. Who/where/how/why etc.
We work with a very unique operation where the company is fully vertical, so we control the process from start to finish or what we term from 'Seed to Skin' which is from the farm to the final CMT. All the processes are audited by a third party to ensure we are socially and ecologically compatible. Our ranges are only available in three colours (Natural White, Wheat and Sage Green) which makes this a lot easier as we are not about the hot colours/ print. Our range is based around being environmentally sustainable, which we term as being evergreen. These items do not go out of fashion. Looking after and washing in a natural detergent at 30 degrees should give the garment longevity.
Describe your customers and the community you have built/ embraced.
Our customers are the independent stores around Australia & New Zealand that attract the conscious consumer who is concerned about the health of the planet as well as their family. Our mission is to tell our story and work with the grassroots to spread the word on how natural colour cotton can offer customers better choices. We will then look to invest in online and social media to drive traffic to our site. We are looking to talk to hospitals, mothers groups, the cancer council and dermatologists.
What is it that you think your customers love about your brand/ product?
The brand I believe will be followed as it’s honest and has a truly transparent supply chain as we don’t want to hide any part of the process. The facts are there and the product has true credibility. We believe it's ticking all the boxes around the current environmental issues like climate change, water, reducing chemicals and ensuring the farmers are not being exposed to harmful toxins. The two big call outs for Natural Colour Cotton would be the 80% less water used in comparison to any other brand which has been dyed in synthetic colour this includes organic babywear. We are very proud to say we have no dyeing, therefore, no chemicals or toxins. The health aspect is key, as babies sleep for 70-80% and when hot the pores in the skin can potentially absorb the toxic dyes which could potentially lead to skin allergies and cancers.
How do you/ your team stay inspired and authentic?
We’ve learnt to say no to dyeing, printing and remain 100% pure to the brand. Why change the NCC when it has all these healthy and safe attributes.
Who would be your dream collaborator?
The dream collaborator would be with Academy Brand and Assembly Label and trying to make contact with Outland denim. We have already produced one order for Academy Brand which is due in their stores in February 2020.
What path led you to Life Instyle and what is it about the show that makes it a great fit for you?
The Life InStyle trade show attracts like-minded customers that are looking to find alternative ways to offer their customers better choices that will be ultimately more sustainable & healthier for all concerned.
Can you share any spoilers on what we can expect from your new collection at Life Instyle Sydney?
The Natural Colour Cotton will be available for immediate delivery. We have invested in the stock to serve the customers better as our range is made up of core basics, which we term as evergreens. They are the classic items that every newborn would require for the early stages of his or her life.
Who are some of the other brands at Life Instyle who you love/admire?
Being a newbie at Life Instyle trade shows we admire all those brands that have grown into a substantial business and we hope we can be something for other brands to aspire to one day.
Can you share one of your proudest moments in business so far?
F4G's proudest moment to date would be the reception we received from our first customers at the Life Instyle held in Melbourne August 2019. They had no idea about the product, brand and had never heard of natural colour cotton, but they took a punt with us and they are the true heroes for being courageous enough to make the change to environmentally friendly and healthier options for all.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?
Do one thing well.
And what advice would you give someone else thinking of starting out?
Be real, be authentic, be passionate, persevere and persist. Finally, love what you do.
What exciting things are on the horizon for 2020 and beyond?
We would like to continue educating the consumers by building a lifestyle brand into kids, adults and ultimately home soft (towels, bedding) - so all parts of a home are healthier for the family.
When you’re not busy with the business, what’s your ideal way to unwind and give yourself a little bit of self-care?
My downtime is all about getting into my sculptures, listening to music, gardening and being with the family around the table sharing a meal.
JUST FOR FUN!
Enjoying a few good Cheeses with great Red Wine.
Next holiday location?
Cape Town, South Africa to see my Twin Sister.