I strongly believe that access, rather than ownership, is the future of commerce, and I hope to impact industry behavior and empower people to connect to product in a new way. Shifting the verbiage from consumer to user, from ownership to access, will radically change our relationship to consumption.
I had the pleasure to interview Kristy Caylor, the Co-Founder & CEO of For Days
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I often question the future and believe the time is now to rethink our relationship to commerce. Our current model of produce, purchase, pollute doesn’t make sense, and isn’t sustainable or efficient. What if we could have everything we want without creating waste? What if we are empowered to accumulate impact rather than clutter? What if we liberate ourselves from the burden of ownership and go live our lives? I believe a new operating system for living lies at our fingertips. I wanted to create a new model for commerce that would shift industry behavior and empower people to connect to product in a new way.
I was also in the process of moving apartments, and had that massive ‘purge’ moment where I needed to de-clutter. I gave away clothes to friends, and sold things to The Real Real and Buffalo Exchange. But I was still left with a pile of undignified donations, things like pit-stained tees, single socks, and stretched out pajamas. These items have no residual value, and certainly no sentimental value, and I thought about how convenient it would be if basics like this could float in and out of our lives when we needed them, and they could be recycled and repurposed when we were finished. I could have what I needed, when I needed it, without the guilt when I was finished with it. So I developed the concept for For Days, based on a closed loop system, that allows you to have everything you need without creating waste.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Our goal is to reverse the devastating environmental effects of the fashion industry, the world’s second largest source of pollution, bested only by petroleum. There is an over-production of inventory with no end of life solution. The average American throws away 80lbs of clothing annually. Donating unwanted clothes may seem like a good solution, but about 85% of donations actually end up in landfill. Our current model of produce, purchase, pollute doesn’t make sense, and isn’t sustainable or efficient.
Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is taking to tackle climate change? Can you give an example for each?
For Days is the first fully closed loop clothing company. Our membership model gives continuous access to a range of men’s and women’s 100% organic, GOTS- certified t-shirts, tank tops, and sweatshirts, made in LA. Members join and pay an annual fee based on how many tees they want in rotation, either 1, 3, 6, or 10. As tees wear out, stretch out, rip, stain, or fade, members request a new tee, return the old, and For Days upcycles all of the materials to create new yarn which then becomes new shirts.
For Days leverages post-consumer mechanical recycling for all returned product. The old tees are chopped up, turned into a pulp, reinforced with virgin organic material, made into new yarn, made into new fabric, and ultimately made into new product.
We view manufacturing as a cultural center of the brand. At a baseline, transparency and agility is critical. In the larger view, we are investing in manufacturing innovation. We’re currently designing our fist factory in Hawthorne, CA. Our aim is to move toward a zero-waste footprint by leveraging technology, renewable energy programs, water reclamation programs and innovative principles of biomimicry.
Ultimately, For Days is a platform for circular consumption. We can imagine most of our lives operating this way, where things can come and go as we need them, without creating waste. We are already planning for expansion into a broader range of basics and eventually, beyond.
What was the most difficult thing you faced when you first started your company/organization? Can you share how you overcame that. This might give insight to founders who face a similar situation.
We have a bold vision that implies creating a new relationship with the customer. Building a new business model is a harder puzzle to put together than, let’s say, a new product in an existing model. We spent considerable time planning, researching, iterating, testing and then starting the cycle over again. I would suggest to founders: be bold and solid in your big picture thinking, but realize that the pieces of the puzzle might fit together in a way you didn’t expect. Test and iterate, test and iterate.
Many people want to start a company to tackle environmental issues, but they face challenges when it comes to raising enough money to actually make it happen. Can you share how were you able to raise the funding necessary to start your organization? Do you have any advice?
Profit incentives and mission incentives must align. We set out to build a profitable business, which, in operation, tackles serious environmental issues. However, mission alone isn’t enough, and the business must work. Product quality, customer experience and values should be equally prioritized to create a compelling dynamic that investors can get behind.
Do you think entrepreneurs/businesses can do a better job than governments to solve the climate change and global warming issues? Please explain why or why not.
I think it requires collaboration. Governments have a unique opportunity to leverage legislation, to invest in innovation, and to educate. Businesses have a unique opportunity to build market-based solutions that create value for all stakeholders. Ideally, these two pieces work together!
What are some practical things that both people and governments can do help you address the climate change and global warming problem?
My feeling is that it’s best to start in your own home. Think about the small decisions made daily. What are you purchasing? Do you know how it’s made? Think about how can you minimize plastic use, single use containers, or disposable clothing. Consider what’s happening when you are finished with the items you use. Where you put your dollars matters greatly. Get involved in local community efforts around sustainability, if that speaks to you. Whatever you do, do something. Don’t strive for perfection, but for improvement.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My parents encouraged me to live in a world of possibilities. They have been my biggest cheerleaders and sometimes my biggest critics. But consequently, I never thought of my options as limited, or was told “you can’t do that because.” They taught me that it is always about hard work, dedication, and persistence and to get back up and keep going, no matter what.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. It always takes longer than you think. For Days is not my first start up, and I am still surprised by what comes up, goes wrong and or just simply takes longer than we anticipated.
2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. As a founder, your to-do list is endless and it’s easy to get distracted. Learn how to constantly evaluate what adds the most value and teach your team to do the same.
3. Tell your story brilliantly. You have to make people believe. If you’re fundraising, you’re selling your vision. If you’re acquiring customers, you’re selling your product or service. Bring people into your world with a compelling narrative.
4. Learn to live with rejection. It’s hard and discouraging, but 100% part of the package.
5. Hold true to your values and find your people. That applies to investors, to your team, to people in your personal life. The founder journey is tough and you need help, guidance, honest feedback, and I strongly suggest that those people align with your personal set of values. It might take longer to sort and find, but it’s worth it in the end.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the world, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I strongly believe that access, rather than ownership, is the future of commerce, and I hope to impact industry behavior and empower people to connect to product in a new way. Shifting the verbiage from consumer to user, from ownership to access, will radically change our relationship to consumption. For Days is about the future and the promise for something better. Sustainability is an important piece, but it’s about the total package. There’s a pleasure in newness, and this system gives people access to newness when needed without the guilt. We align values, transparency, and innovation across products, pricing, and experience. We are changing the game by providing our members with access to insanely great product, along with freedom from accumulation and waste.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!