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Entrepreneurs Tackling Climate Change: Dan Barry, founder of Marc Skid

My movement is the mission of this company: To Make a Marc on the World! For me, I focus on the impact that my brand could make. To put it…


My movement is the mission of this company: To Make a Marc on the World! For me, I focus on the impact that my brand could make. To put it simply, this is what one pair of undies and a $4 donation can do to Save, Feed, and Cure the World: plant four trees, feed a child in the developing world for twelve days, vaccinate two children, or provide safe drinking water for an individual for seven years. We are a start-up but for a second, let’s let our optimism run wild and say we sold 2.5 million pairs of underwear! That would be $10 million given to our wonderful charity partners. $10 million would plant 10 million trees, provide 30 million days of full meals to children, vaccinate 5 million children, or provide seven years of safe drinking water for 2.5 million people.


I had the pleasure to interview Dan Barry, founder of Marc Skid, LLC, a cheeky, eco-friendly underwear brand owner with a passion for giving back. Made with the finest cotton, Organic Pima, and with a recycled water bottle in each waistband, Marc Skid underwear is dedicated to the betterment of the world and its people. The mission of the brand is to allow people to Make Their Marc on the World by donating four dollars per pair to 4-Star Charities dedicated to saving, feeding, and curing the world.

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 was raised by civic-minded parents and surrounded by people who cared about their community. One such person is Sister Laurinda, my Mom’s best friend and founder of Pro-Papa Missions in Honduras. Post-college, during mission work, I was exposed to the true meaning of selflessness and giving back. After a 25-year career with Anheuser-Busch, I decided to strike out on my own and founded Marc Skid in the belief that brands should be like people we admire, having a sense of humor, strong character, and a purposeful existence. Those three attributes became the ethos of Marc Skid. Thus, as I wrote the business plan, I always came back to the question of: What does it mean for a brand to have a strong character and a purposeful existence? Our brand donates $4 on behalf of the customer to 4-star charities that are helping Save, Feed, and Cure the world. However, our first mission must be to take care of Mother Earth for without her, life does not exist — making all other causes irrelevant. Nothing changes drastically overnight but I believe that in all situations, small actions, multiplied by many people, can make a genuine difference in the world. I like to think our brand gives the consumer an opportunity to make choices that will make a difference.

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

Our mission/call to action is to Make your Marc on the World. The idea was to design a great pair of underwear and to ensure that with every purchase, you and I could make our world a little better. And I believe there are people out there who share our passion for changing the world — one pair of undies at a time. Marc’s commitment to every customer is to facilitate his or her desire to help Save our beautiful world as well as Cure those who are ill and Feed those who are hungry. Saving the world, for Marc Skid, begins with the eco-friendly way our underwear is made by using the world’s finest cotton, organic Pima, and a waistband always constructed from one upcycled water bottle. Additionally, we shun plastic in our packaging.

Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is taking to tackle climate change? Can you give an example for each?

Our exclusive use of organic, Pima cotton, the finest cotton in the world. Conventional agricultural practices are a significant contributor to global warming. Cotton is the largest non-food agricultural crop in the world. Regular, conventional cotton is widely considered the most environmentally unfriendly crop because it relies heavily during its growth on chemical fertilizers and pesticides which destroy soils’ ability to harbor this vital microscopic life and rich diversity that accounts for so much of the carbon mitigating power we desperately need.

By contrast, organic farming encourages the soil to be the efficient carbon absorber, or carbon sink, it naturally is. Organically grown tells you that it was grown in an eco-friendly manner. Our organic cotton underwear is sourced from family farms that shun GMO’s and toxic pesticides in favor of environmentally sound techniques like crop rotation, intercropping, hand or mechanical weeding, mulches, and the use of beneficial insects to control harmful insects — unleashing the power of healthy soil to counteract and even reverse global warming.

We use one upcycled water bottle in every waistband. Most people are unaware that water bottles are polyester and can be upcycled into high grade polyester for apparel. The producing and discarding of plastic is a major basis of the greenhouse effects that lead to global warming. Out of the 50 billion plastic water bottles being bought each year in the US, 80% — or 40 billion plastic water bottles — end up in landfills. The problem is that it takes 700 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose. Now imagine each of those water bottles ¼ filled with petroleum: that’s how much petroleum it takes to manufacture and distribute each and every water bottle. Additionally, 3 bottles worth of water is used in making and getting 1 plastic water bottle to market. That’s why, when given the opportunity to use Repreve, recycled polyester made from plastic water bottles, to make our waistbands — it was a no brainer. Sure, it costs more. But considering that each waistband keeps one plastic water bottle from a landfill — how could we not do our part to Make our Marc?

Finally, Marc Skid gives money to 4-star charities dedicated to Saving the World. The consumer decides which charity to which to direct that $ 4 donation. For example, two of our charity partners will plant four trees for each $ 4 donation that is made per the sale of a pair of Marc Skid underwear. Four trees can remove about 4 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

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.

I would say that I am self-financed with a modest marketing budget. Whether the brand succeeds long-term or not has yet to be determined. Since I’m an e-commerce only brand, I must create brand awareness primarily through social media. This is a landscape with many options and one that is constantly changing. Additionally, since I’m not myself a millennial, I am constantly educating myself about social media.

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?

Well, I’m a self-financed company but, in hindsight, I probably should have utilized a crowd-funding platform to secure financial support and gain greater public awareness pre-launch. I think integrity is important and you first have to practice what you preach. What I mean is that if you preach concern for the environment, you must do things in an eco-friendly manner yourself. That’s why we made the choices we did when creating our brand. Understand, using organic Pima cotton and upcycled water bottles, is a much more expensive proposition than using regular cotton and regular polyester. That being said, you have to find a market that appreciates those choices.

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.

It is only people who can solve these issues. Businesses and entrepreneurs can have all the wonderful ideas in the world but without the support of people, they will not survive. The reference stating that government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has never been more relevant than it is today. Our government is ultimately the people themselves. In order to effect change, we must educate ourselves and vote with both our purchases and our ballots. We all have differing opinions about the environment and global warming. That’s why the proposition for progress needs to include that advancement in these areas leads to future economic growth, enterprise, and jobs. Finally, it makes sense simply from the point of efficiency to reuse resources rather than wastefully discard them.


What are some practical things that both people and governments can do to help you address the climate change and global warming problem?

From my previous life I know that change in industry usually comes from smaller disruptor companies. Marc Skid is a very, very small company. However, when larger companies see smaller companies in their industry having success, they will adopt the practices of those smaller companies. For example, we are the only underwear company using an upcycled water bottle to make our waistbands. Think about it! It costs more to collect the plastic bottles and then process them to then be converted into high quality textile polyester. This costs more than using virgin polyester. At Marc Skid we believe that we shouldn’t produce anymore virgin polyester until we’ve upcycled every water bottle. Larger companies adopting this belief will create volume and eventually reduce the cost of this type of polyester. Win-win!

From a personal standpoint being more environmentally conscious is a journey. I know from my own experience that it begins with everyday awareness . . . recycling . . . reducing everyday plastic use . . . composting . . . turning off the water . . . adjusting the thermostat.

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?

There would be three major people: My parents and Sister Laurinda. All three have served as wonderful examples that both inspire and challenge me. In addition, I would thank my previous employer of 25 years, Anheuser-Busch, for being a good employer and giving solid experience in the business world that made it possible for me to follow this dream.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

#1: The word “start-up” is a sexy word to everyone but the companies with which you work to produce your product. In the apparel manufacturing business it is very difficult to even find somebody who is willing to work with you. A major component of their cost is just setting up the machinery to run your order. If you are a start-up, it is hard for them to recover their cost because of the order size plus there is no guarantee that you will be placing another order.

#2: Multiply your estimated launch time by at least 2. Since I wrote the business plan in January-February of 2015 and I launched on October 1, 2017, it would be about two years and nine months. The old adage is that when you want to launch a business in one year, you should probably plan on it taking two years. My business plan called for a June 2016 launch.

#3: The lack of process, procedures, and standards in the manufacturing industry. This was possibly the most frustrating part of starting this business. I was always taught “measure twice and cut once.” The amount of time lost and dollars wasted by simply not checking one’s work was very frustrating. My previous job in the beer industry was centered on procedures and standards. Of course, beer is a food product so mistakes can be much more costly since people can get sick from bad food products.

#4: It takes personal fortitude and patience to make things happen. However, that I get to own the good and the bad 100% is really cool. In the end, success boils down to your own actions. No one is going to have the passion for your endeavor that you will.

#5: Remind yourself that issues can become opportunities and opportunities, improvements. Truly the majority of disappointments led to something greater 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. 🙂

My movement is the mission of this company: To Make a Marc on the World! For me, I focus on the impact that my brand could make. To put it simply, this is what one pair of undies and a $4 donation can do to Save, Feed, and Cure the World: plant four trees, feed a child in the developing world for twelve days, vaccinate two children, or provide safe drinking water for an individual for seven years. We are a start-up but for a second, let’s let our optimism run wild and say we sold 2.5 million pairs of underwear! That would be $10 million given to our wonderful charity partners. $10 million would plant 10 million trees, provide 30 million days of full meals to children, vaccinate 5 million children, or provide seven years of safe drinking water for 2.5 million people.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

Instagram- @marcskid

Facebook- @marc skid Co

Twitter- @marcskid

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Originally published at medium.com

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