Garik Himebaugh is the founder of Eco-Stylist. Their mission is to help men look sharp in clothes that improve the lives of clothing makers while being better for the planet. They encapsulate this mission with the phrase: dress like you give a damn.
Get to know Garik and Eco-Stylist:
Q: What inspired you to start your venture? *
A: This whole journey began 3 years ago at an event called Startup Weekend, where like it sounds, you create a startup in a weekend. I won the event and that got me started on a tech-based men’s style solution. I built a website, developed an automated personal stylist via chatbot, and was out testing my solution with potential customers. That’s when everything changed. I was in Boston that summer for an internship and one weekend I went to an outdoor market downtown. While walking around I stumbled upon these beautiful handmade shoes at a kiosk. I stopped and chatted with the guy there, who turned out to be the founder of Adelante Shoe Company, Peter Sacco. He told me how they handmake the shoes in Guatemala, where they measure and pay living wages. Inspired, I bought a pair on the spot. Intrigued by Adelante’s blend of great style with real positive impact, I started searching for other ethical and sustainable brands. After countless hours researching, I realized how time consuming the whole process was and how difficult it was to find sources I could trust. I thought there must be a better way. Since I was already developing a men’s fashion startup and it was also my dream to start a social venture, I thought “this is a problem I think I can solve.” I could help men look great in ethical brands that they trust. That summer I pivoted my startup towards what we now know as Eco-Stylist.
Q: What did you hope to gain by applying to SEED SPOT’s Impact Accelerator program? *
A: I applied to SEED SPOT with the hope to both grow my business and also be ready to raise money. We are fortunate to have the type of business that can grow grassroots, organically, without investment money. At the same time we are faced with the reality that if we want to grow faster, and maximize our social impact, raising money will be a big help. I’m still working through the program and already seeing positive business growth while feeling much more confident about our pitch.
A: To think bigger. When you really dive deep into the financials you can be surprised to discover that the opportunity is bigger than you thought. My SEED SPOT mentor told me that I’ve been “operating from a scarcity mindset and need to dream bigger.” That advice has been transformative.
A: We aim to drive $10 million in sales to sustainable brands by the end of 2021 and become a go-to destination for sustainable clothing online. The brands we work with are changing fashion as we know it – they are making clothes in ever more eco-friendly ways and elevating worker’s rights by promoting real transparency and fair wages. We want to help people discover and support those brands, because if we succeed, with your help we can change fashion forever.
Q: What is one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs just beginning their journey? *
A: Starting a new social venture can be really stressful at times. On any given day you might have 200 things on your to-do list and 3 fires to put out. Along the way I had the epiphany that “I am the solution to all of my problems.” You can choose to let your problems swallow you, or you can look at them as problems to be solved. Whenever I get overwhelmed I think “what could I do better?” or “how can I better prioritize my goals so that I grow faster?” You have to give up the idea of doing everything and really focus on the areas with the biggest impact. That slight shift in perspective has honestly changed everything.
Hear Garik pitch Eco-Stylist’s vision of a world where all clothing shopping is sustainable at SEED SPOT’s Impact Accelerator Demo Day coming up on May 12th – RSVP here.