Thread, the Pittsburgh-based startup that's collected over 41 million plastic bottles from landfill communities in Haiti and Honduras and created fabric for some of the world's leading brands, today launched its own product on Kickstarter with a first-of-its-kind bag — the Better Backpack.
"There are a couple of items in our closets that we use every single day," said Thread founder and CEO Ian Rosenberger. "We believe those items should fit us at every moment without costing an arm and a leg. We've worked hard to make sure that our first product — the Better Backpack — is an upgrade for everybody out there trying to 'adult' but that aren't able take their backpack into that big meeting and on a date, or have to carry two and sometimes three bags just to make sure the day works."
Rosenberger started Thread in an effort to help with the immense amount of plastic waste and dearth of jobs he saw after traveling in Haiti and the Caribbean — the company has since sold over $3M worth of its signature fabrics to brands including Timberland, Reebok and Marmot looking to incorporate recycled materials into their product assortments; and partnered with companies such as HP, Inc to provide education and jobs to its recyclers in Haiti.
Over four years, the Thread team has worked to develop a canvas that wears and feels like cotton, but with the performance characteristics and durability of polyester. The Better Backpack continues to make use of the planet's enormous glut of plastic bottle waste in the form of a versatile lifestyle bag designed to fit the wearer throughout every part of their week. With the help of a variety of “old retail” industry veterans, Thread improved and simplified the product design, including adding neoprene compartments within the bags that keep items such as gym clothes, lunch or even a bottle of wine safe and separate from the rest of the items you use every day.
"We’re proud of the impact we’ve had, and will continue to make our fabrics available to brands who want to choose better materials. However, we think there is an even bigger opportunity to create high-quality items for the work week made entirely of the incredible excess resources that end up in landfills and the ocean," said Kelsey Halling, Thread’s Director of Partnerships.
The company envisions designing all work-week essentials in a better way — with a focus on the more inventive use of recycled materials.
Thread is a certified B Corp and a Public Benefit Corporation, and scores in the top 10 percent of B Corps globally on its governance and incorporation of the world's waste into its products. These efforts attracted a group of well-known investors to raise over $2.7 million in a financing round led by Draper Triangle Ventures. Thread has plans to continue to innovate other elements of the modern wardrobe in the future, all with the same focus on clean, simple design; top-notch craftsmanship; and a focus on recycled materials that help put people back to work.
The Better Backpack launches today on Kickstarter in a range of colors for both men and women. The campaign will run until September 19.