North Carolina is the home and heart of TS Designs. Since 1977, the T-shirt manufacturer has seen the ebb and flow of the North Carolinian cotton industry. The state was once a leading apparel producer, but after NAFTA and rise of outsourcing, production moved to Mexico and other markets. Many locals lost their jobs.
“I think we now realize what driving everything to the lowest cost gets us,” President Eric Henry explains. “Dirty energy and outsourcing; It does not create a sustainable economy or a better community.” Instead of following the competition south, TS Designs launched an innovative program aimed at creating long-term quality jobs that supported a better quality of life for their local community. While the apparel industry has almost completely shifted overseas, this B Corps‘ T-shirts are over 80 percent domestically made, with over 50 percent of creation taking place in North Carolina
Since 2008, TS Designs has married two issues their customers care about–buy local and be transparent. Most apparel travels thousands of miles, often from overseas. TS Designs T-shirts are sourced within a 750-mile area. In addition, every shirt is stamped with the year of creation, allowing anyone to visit their website and access information on all aspects of the supply chain. Pictures and contact information are available for each player in the process. This is a rare opportunity to truly connect with the people behind the product.
Keeping business local does have some trade-offs. North Carolina cannot yet supply organic cotton. However, by investing in the area with a long-term view, TS Designs is laying the groundwork for the transition. “We view sustainability as a journey, not a destination,” Henry explains. Taking the time to develop the marketplace—and the jobs that come with it—is a testament to this B Corp’s people-centric approach.
“We happen to be in the T-shirt business but more than that, we want to demonstrate what a sustainable triple-bottom-line business looks like,” says Henry. With a firm commitment to community and transparency, TS Designs is poised to continue to do so far into the future.
Learn more about B Corporations, like TS Designs, at bcorporation.net.
Photo provided by TS Designs
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