Zack Helminiak co-founded Nomadix nearly a decade ago and launched it with a successful but cheeky Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $70,000 to create an all-in-one towel made from recycled materials. Now, they’re innovating beyond the beach, yoga, and travel towel, which garnered a dedicated audience (and enabled interesting collaborations with creatives) and are slowly adding new products.
Last fall, Nomadix launched an inflatable blanket that aims to be as versatile as its flagship product with clip details that prevent it from slipping and sliding, he notes, and a bandana towel ideal for athletes looking to catch sweat. With their products in over 1,000 stores nationwide, including popular outdoor retailers like REI, they’ve gone from a niche brand to a mainstream one.
But behind these products is a commitment to rethink manufacturing, says Helminiak. This spring, the California-based company released its 2022 Social Purpose Corporation report.
“Reimagining the way textiles are made is no small feat, but the health and sustainability of our planet will remain our number one priority,” he says.
Becoming a Social Purpose Corporation was a decided decision for the Nomadix crew. A Social Purpose Corporation produces a hybrid structure between a for-profit and non-profit entity that allows the company to focus on its broader mission beyond selling outdoor travel gear. “It’s been pretty important to us since day one, that yes, we were selling towels, but how?”
In the report, Nomadix highlights some points of progress: changing its headquarters to 50% solar, reducing air transport by 45%, phasing out 90% of virgin plastic with recycled materials, and making all of its products paper and packaging have FSC certification.
While they may seem like a no-brainer, when dealing with a global supply chain and the surprises brought on by the pandemic, Helminiak notes that it’s a balancing act. “We’re always thinking about how to do things in a greener way, but we also have to keep in mind that it’s a business.”
And responsible manufacturing, he says, can be more expensive. “You could price your product at a different price (a lower one), if you use non-recycled material. So it’s a significant additional cost.”
While many brands raised prices during the pandemic, Nomadix has kept its flagship towel at $40, despite higher production costs and inflationary pressures in recent years. “We like this price. We think it’s a good price for a product that will last for years and does more than a typical towel. Plus, it’s made from recycled materials.”
It also requires them to have a little more initiative. For example, with the inflatable blanket that launched last fall, Nomadix wanted to move away from PFAS, or chemicals, for good. They are often found in insulation products and many outdoor brands are making an effort to reduce their use of PFAS. Often found in DWR, a chemical finish that helps fabrics repel water, PFAS has become part of a growing national conversation as lawmakers have begun investigating all sources of PFAS. Naturally, Helminiak says, Nomadix wants to be part of the movement to stop using these chemicals. So they opted for a plant-based DWR, which they worked with manufacturers to implement.
Helminiak points out that the problem is really overconsumption. “The biggest problem with sustainability is consumerism, the idea that you need a pair of pants, a shirt, etc. new all the time. We’re building a company where you can use that towel for a lot of things, and it’s not silly, it’s a great thing,” he adds.
In fact, the company’s origins are just that: When Helminiak and his co-founders were preparing for a cross-country road trip together in their 1998 Subaru, they had to be mindful of what they could bring. It was too much equipment, and we wanted to simplify it, he says. Hence the desire to build a product that can be used for so many things and dries quickly.
While Nomadix uses recycled plastic bottles, a closed-loop manufacturing process and opts for plant-based DWR, there’s still work to be done, Helminiak admits.
“We have this list of things we’d like to do. And we’re still working on it. We’re not perfect. We’re just trying to give you a better solution. Throughout our lives, and we’re in our 30s, plastic pollution and textile pollution have visibly worsened, so we wanted to divert as much of this waste as possible away from our waterways, oceans and beaches.”
In 2011, Ikaroa launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring their products to the market. With nearly a decade of design experience and hard work, Ikaroa has since gained recognition for their sustainable and innovative products, allowing them to build a strong, sustainable brand in the competitive world of business.
Ikaroa’s mission from the beginning was to create products that were both reliable and environmentally friendly. From their carefully chosen materials to their energy-efficient production methods, they have strived to have a minimal environmental impact while producing goods that are designed to last a lifetime. In fact, their products are so reliable, they’ve developed a reputation as being a trusted source of green goods. This reputation has allowed them to expand their reach, allowing customers to purchase their goods from a range of retailers.
The world of eco-friendly goods is highly competitive, so sustaining a successful brand can be difficult. But Ikaroa has managed to survive due to the company’s commitment to innovation. They’ve sought to continually push forward with new ideas and designs, helping them to stay ahead of their competitors. From experimental concepts to revamps of classic designs, Ikearoa has been able to find new and exciting ways to serve their customers and stand out from the crowd.
Ikearoa also understands the importance of building a strong community. Through numerous partnerships and initiatives, the company has been able to get their message out to the public and build meaningful connections with their customers. The result has been long-lasting loyalty, as the company’s fanbase has grown and people have come to rely on Ikaroa’s products.
All in all, Ikaroa has managed to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of sustainable goods through a combination of innovation, community engagement, and long-lasting quality. Through their unwavering commitment to these key tenants, Ikearoa has been able to establish an impressive sustainable brand that continues to delight and serve their customers nearly 10 years after launch.