This Istanbul-based fashion tech startup’s main goal is helping the environment through reducing the carbon footprint of it’s users. You may be surprised how they’ve figured out how to achieve this. We spoke with Can Ozinci, co-founder of UNDO Labs, to learn more about this cool little way to “close the loop.”
What was your inspiration behind UNDO Labs?
We believe that almost everyone is genuinely concerned about the environment, especially about climate change, but not enough is offered to the general public to do something really impactful about it. More and more brands have started putting emphasis on giveback by offering donation campaigns, but not many put this in the center of their vision. UNDO Labs believes in the need for a brand that enables people to contribute to the world in an easy and meaningful way. Moreover, many things people use daily are often overlooked when they could be re-designed in a beautiful and innovative way. We have a very capable team from the best design schools in the world coming together to make this happen.
Tell us about your UNDO Laces.
Why a shoelace as our first product? The shoe is one of the most environmentally damaging items people wear due the raw materials used and intensity of manufacturing processes. According to an MIT study, a typical shoe has a carbon footprint of 30 pounds of CO2. Over 25 billion shoes are sold in the world per year–the carbon footprint of the global shoe industry is close to that of the entire country of Italy! So we created our first product to undo the damage of the shoe industry.
Here’s how it works: Consumers buy a pair of undo laces, UNDO Labs offsets the carbon footprint of a pair of shoes by purchasing carbon offset credits from a wind energy, solar energy or reforestation project on their behalf. We do this by going through 3rd party carbon offset vendors. If everyone in the world had an UNDO Lace for every shoe they owned, the carbon footprint of the entire shoe industry would be offset!
What value does UNDO have that makes it stand out against other startups in the space?
Our story and value proposition is quite unique and we are not aware of any brand doing the same. Our vision is a long term one and our success will be dependent on several values such as transparency, honesty and dedication to quality.
What has been one of the most challenging parts of getting started? How did you overcome this and what did you learn?
Being a startup, challenges are more than a handful. One of the big ones was introducing to people that they could change their shoelaces based on their daily mood and/or their clothes that day. Our research show that few people change their laces. The main reason behind this was the pain of getting the new one in. On average it took 6-8 minutes to complete the whole process and it was basically too much for our modern way of living. We came up with an intelligent yet beautiful solution, that reduced this time to tens of seconds from 8 minutes. We installed lockable mini magnets at each end of UNDO Laces. To change shoelaces users just have to connect and lock the magnetic ends at both ends (old and new) and just pull out. As users do this they will see the new one threading through. It is fun to do and watch. Here is a small video:
Where can we buy your product, when is it available, and what is the cost?
We introduced our product in New York Design Week this year and completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. The reception of the product, our story, and the brand value proposition was very promising at both points. With those now finished we are out of the beta phase and will start selling through our online store before the end of this year. The retail price will most likely be $18.00 USD. In the first quarter of 2016, UNDO Laces will also be sold in select locations in the US and Europe.
What can we expect next from UNDO Labs?
UNDO Labs is not just a shoelace company. We’ve set out to create a global brand that makes beautiful products for the people who care about our world’s future. To get there, we’ll be introducing new UNDO products in 2016. We have a good list of ideas that we’ll share soon and ask for feedback from our community (our Kickstarter backers and our followers on social media).
Learn more about UNDO Labs by checking out their website and watching the video below.
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