We interviewed college friends Nathan Coleman and James Brooks, who started a company after a trip to Thailand. There, they discovered the plight of elephants and also the comfortable boho pants that are popular in the country. The duo decided to combine the two and create a pant company to benefit elephants.
Since they launched the brand in October of 2014 with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, they’ve sold about 450,000 units. The philanthropic pants are, fittingly, made in a factory in Chiang Mai, Thailand. “The story of our brand and our factory is actually very cool,” the men explained. “We both started our businesses at about the same time and discovered each other via the web. Since that time, we’ve both grown together, and through our sales efforts, we have taken the factory from about 15 people to now over 150. That’s 150 people in Chiang Mai who now have a great job that they can take pride in.”
As for their bestseller, the original harem pants sell the most. “Recently we launched a line of stretch yoga pants and stretch harem pants that are quickly gaining popularity. Some customers even say they are more comfortable than the originals,” they explained.
Here’s what else they told us about…
How the Idea Came About
We’ve always been lovers of elephants and all animals. After a trip to Thailand, we discovered the reality of the struggle that most elephants actually face daily. We came back on a mission to find a way to help raise awareness and cultivate action. In order to get the spread and scale a large impact, the product would have to be fun and mass-market friendly. While on the same trip to Thailand, we discovered a popular style of bohemian pants that were the most comfortable pants we had ever worn. These glorious pants were a perfect vehicle for our mission.
Why They Want to Save the Elephants
Elephants are extremely intelligent and emotional animals. They live in family units and even mourn when family members pass away. It’s a shame that they are killed for their ivory just to supply collectibles or supposed medicines. Our philosophy is that the only one who needs ivory is an elephant, and with that we do our best to give elephants a voice.
Their ‘Tank’ Appearance
A few months after starting the business, we turned to each other and said, “We are going to be on Shark Tank.” We decided that we wanted to be a household name. Shortly after, we started the application process and submitted our first video. We made it through the first round, but we weren’t selected to participate in that season. Thankfully, the producers called us a few months after that to see if we were interested in applying again. We put together a really fun video the second time around and the rest is history.
Partnership With the International Elephant Foundation
As a partner with the International Elephant Foundation, we donate a portion of every sale to help create a sustainable future where elephants thrive. Through global projects focusing on wildlife/habitat protection, reducing human-elephant conflict, and advancing knowledge to cure elephant diseases, IEF is on the ground wherever there are elephants. While each region poses its own unique challenges, they all require the same thing- humans working together. Since its inception, IEF has supported over 120 annual and long-term projects focused on the fight to save elephants, and we’re extremely proud to contribute to their mission and help raise awareness.
Plans for the Future
We’re really excited for all the things that will come from being on Shark Tank and the notoriety it brings. We have plans to expand much more into wholesale and bigger retailers as well as international markets. We’re always innovating and coming out with new products, and the influx of customers and demand will allow us to develop and bring new products to market much quicker.