JOOB Activewear makes ecofriendly clothing
By Jeff McGinnis
On July 15, Ann Arbor entrepreneurs and spouses John Ames, Jr. and Nicha Sangiampornpanit officially launched their online store at joobwear.com for JOOB Activewear, a line of clothing aimed at being as carbon-neutral as possible. For the couple, the launch was a way to bring many of their passions together— an active lifestyle coupled with a desire to leave a better planet for future generations.
How would you describe JOOB Activewear?
John Ames, Jr.: It’s sustainable activewear that can be used pretty much doing anything, and anywhere. When we talk about ‘sustainable,’ we really talk about it in terms of a few different elements — one is the element of us giving back. So three percent of our revenue goes to environmental and carbon-reducing projects. So we have a partner called 1% for the Planet that gets a portion of our revenue, and a local partner in Michigan is the Huron Watershed Council, and they’re doing some really amazing things like testing for PFAs and microplastics, and keeping our watersheds healthy for future generations. And Nicha and I this summer were both volunteers there, and tested for flow and for chemicals in the Huron River and other connecting streams.
Before we even launched the company, we wanted to be climate neutral. Part of my background, and Nicha’s background, is in supply chain. So the software company that I worked for, and Nicha does now, called LlamaSoft, did a lot with carbon footprint analysis. And one of their early investors was using their simulation software to model carbon footprint, and the impact of CO2 emissions on the supply chain. So sustainability is really kind of part of this.
What kind of products do you offer?
John: We’re trying to be not too technical, but technical enough that you can use the products pretty much doing anything. But we’re not going to be your expedition, going to Everest type of clothes, the really hardcore folks. So we have things like tees, and daypacks, and beanies and overcoats that have an element of style.
Nicha Sangiampornpanit: In terms for the material that is used for the products, and in terms of the supplier that we choose to partner with — because we wanted to work with suppliers who choose to treat their employees well, and that’s an element of sustainability that we talked about.
Are you and Nicha active individuals, to be inspired to create a product line such as this?
John: I’d say we’re probably super-active. I’m a fly fishing person, I’ve been fly fishing for years now. Nicha and I both ski, we do yoga, we hiked the Everest base camp trail, when we lived in Japan we hiked Mount Fuji. We bike and hike, so yeah, we’re out there a lot.
In what ways are the products you’re producing truly sustainable?
John: Not all of our products have sustainable materials, but a lot of them, and our goal is to have as much sustainable material [as possible]. One of our shirts is made from sustainable beech trees and silk, which means it’s completely biodegradable. We use a super-fine merino from Australia for our beanies. We have a shirt, one of our tees, that is made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. Our overcoat is made from recycled plastic bottles as well, and a spandex blend.
We’re trying to go as much as we can on the sustainable fabric side of things, and longer-term, our goal is to have zero waste. We’re figuring out how to get, when people are tired of their products, instead of throwing it away or giving it to Goodwill, or some other means of not using it, they can give it back to us. And we can either have it get refurbished or have our textile mill do something with it.