Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Serving Communities

I am spending some time journaling tonight, thinking about the reasons of why this apparel company exists. Like any business, or endeavor, we always start something with great intentions and visions, but the little daily things and the grind, and bottom line, easily cloud us, and bring us to areas that can lose sight of the big picture.

I spoke with a few friends in Chattanooga the past few days, and they were sharing about a factory in Ecuador. Villages in the country are often known for specific manufacturing, possible silver, or denim, or wood crafts. The villagers can often work in one area and specialize in products or processes.

He mentioned that a factory in one town is offering fare trade wages, and conditions for their workers, but are around 30% operating capacity. They are great at creating denim and corduroy.

I don't know when its feasible to offer jeans, and corduroy shirts, I hope soon. But I really had a vision in listening to the village of hoping on a plane, and walking through the town, and seeing the factory. The thought of giving back, whether it be helping to aid in production lines and helping salaries, or giving back by working on a project the locals need. But pouring into those communities. Serving and meeting their needs, as they work to meet ours.

The world is flat. And because of that, we have opportunities to reach out, and serve one another. When I was exploring a few months ago, unserved and unmet needs that were out in countries today, one of the areas I discovered was micro-finance. Helping serve the poor by offering them small loans to start new ventures and businesses. I was heading down that road, and very interested, when one friend at Excellence in Giving named Al said, "the problem with micro-lending is that 70% of people are just looking for a job, not necessarily gifted at starting something on their own. He said, if you really want to help people, in developing countries, own a factory, and employ people.

It was an eye opening thought. While I love new ventures and start-ups, the majority of people did not necessarily have those gifts. it made sense.

I dont necessarily see this company as owning plants or manufacture facilities, but I love the idea that maybe we can offer a few more hours of work to people in need. if that continues, we can offer a few more. maybe the best way to alleviate poverty was to offer employment, or work for them. but not just slave wages, but through good supervisors, and an honorable boss.

I was reminded tonight of that desire. to bring together the consumer with the manufacture. the people. for us to be serving one another, whether it be a living wage for a durable product. one exchange for another. we need to be more connected to each other.

I would love to see Buffalo & Company meet the needs of many people. and I hope in our social action and values, that be one of our greatest beliefs. capitalism and manufacturing and overseas production can be good for us all. and while I am quite the naive person, I look forward to getting on a plane to discover what part we could play as a company.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A man or a woman? Or does it matter?

Should clothes be specific to a man or a woman? It is pretty easy to move to the sexism stance if you even consider some clothes are made for different genders these days, this article from the NY Times would suggest. Current styles are moving to either sex is fine. Even some companies are making neutral gender clothes... like American Apparel.

Read this article from the New York Times about the current trend about gender blending.

But I think clothes are to fit over the body, and the body speaks to its function. And its use. I believe God created our bodies for similar things and different things. A baby boy, last time I checked, is still coming out of mommy with a penis. And a girl, those girls parts. While the culture might be blending those, I am pretty hopeful that while we can change up behaviors and styles, aint no one getting in the womb, and messing with those parts. They are in the DNA. Designed by God.

So what is my hope is change for men, and clothes? Is it a new style? Is it people waking up? Well, my hope is maybe as Freudianism as they get. Men still have a penis. And while these latest jeans out there are trying to get a man to tuck it in, and twist it around, and make it limp, to put on a pair of tight women's jeans, the hope for a man is what still dangles there. and one of these days, he is going to figure out what he could use it for. not just sex, but stepping forward as a man, initiating, leading, being a strength to his family, to his communities, and to the world that needs him to rise up.

I believe the function of man is written from his body, to his sperm swimming forward to be received into a women. there is action. movement. strength.

The problem is that for the last so many years, maybe the history of the world, man has taken that and used it for evil. he has raped. stolen. violated. and everything under God's name he has committed to try and prove it. no wonder women wanted to cut our things off. look what we did with what he were given as a boy.

I'd like to think we could offer a good version of this again. much like clothes. re-introduce american and men to the value of masculine clothes and help them understand their use.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Following Trends

Have you been watching any commercials? There is one that caught my attention. Gap. They have a pretty catchy commercial promoting plaids, and reds, with all their models dancing around in flannel.

Gap is one of those trend setters. They tell us what to wear. They are saying... in their commercial. go buy this.

Well, I find it qutie ironic that I dont have to go out this year to buy their trend. its already in my closet. flannel has been in there for awhile, and I have been wearing it. which made me ask the question, am I a trend setter? or wait, am I behind it?

I just find it so interesting that the lumberjack look is in style. this year. but wait, wear it next year, and oh, that was so last year. its cool today, not tomorrow.

but I got some news for you. it wasn't cool back then, it just was. it was what you wore. not because it was trendy, but because it worked. it was functional. it kept you warm, and for many of the farmers in England and Whales many years ago, it served its purpose.

all to say, I will keep wearing it. not b/c its a dang fad, or b/c a bunch of jummping gap models are telling me to do it. I am going for it, because its classic, traditional, my relatives wore it, and dang it, so will I. because I like it. trendy or not. its classic. real.

while trends will go in and out of style, i think i'd rather stick with what is tried and true. so, gap, yes. thanks for the flannel and plaid suggestions. but sorry, i am already stocked up. and when it comes back around in 10 years or so, I will still have it to, still wearing it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why are we starting a clothing company?

It is interesting to think about the question of why am I doing this? And maybe ultimately the question, with our reps, and guys involved, are we doing this?

As I work on the business plan, there is the obvious questions, the bottom line. But one of the things I must confess is I am not a big fashion guy. I really dont spend a ton of money on clothes, and my wife has to remind me to put gel in my hair at times, or remind me, I need to dress up, or pick out some good clothes.

So why start a clothing company? It doesn't seem to be a great fit. Considering that. Didn't get schooled in fashion design, don't have the latest trends, or shop at the mall that much. I really am not up on all the clothes.

But I think that is why I like stepping in this role. As I research, and explore other clothing companies, I feel like they are a bit vain, a bit selfish, a bit into themselves. They wear the coolest, and newest, and they know what to bring to market.

I think the best people to be involved in Buffalo & Company are not all these fashion people. But men. Men who want a good product, want classic looks, and want to feel like a man and be proud. Men who really dont spend hours looking at men's fashion catalogs, or care about the next trend in 6 months. I think that is what ties us together. We are dudes. Men with a pair of balls. We aren't supposed to know the latest trend, or forecast what styles will be in, or feel that comfortable putting on a pink shirt. We are supposed to care, but not to that degree.

I think that is the beauty of our developing product lines. We don't have to look to the future. But step into the past. Of men, of our heritage. we dont need to reinvent clothes. just bring guys back to the roots of it all. I would much rather be Teddy Roosevelt, Jefferson, Shackleton, Lewis & Clark, then the majority of the men in this culture today.