Nau 1.0 [ Circa 2005 ]

Nau Eco Clothing 2007

 

 

June, 1st, 2006


Portland, OR & Chicago, IL.; This story is about the generosity of the human spirit and the power of technology with business innovation to increase shareholder equity by protecting the environment, enhancing social justice, and providing humanitarian relief worldwide.

“Years ago, a new realization came to mind through my independent business ventures. When you are building your highway, it takes longer than taking a pre-paved course. Dirt roads take longer to drive down because there are no road signs, directions, or sure shots. It's a long road, but it's worth the wait. However, you will never get lost again after successfully paving your highways”, says Jonathan Shaun Crutcher, the Brand Communications Director [he refuses to put V.P. on his business card as directed] says, Crutcher, “I am thrilled to work with such an industry-talented team, a dream come true.” 

This brings us to Nau, an outdoor performance-based apparel collective with sustainability and philanthropy at its' core, which has risen from the .com ashes of the early twenty hundred. More importantly, the business model will positively change how many established industries operate and develop businesses. Chris Van Dyke, Nau. Eric Reynolds of Marmot recruited the CEO to man up his latest "bold idea." Chris felt compelled to come out of semi-retirement for the goodness of all principles in life, in which he has faith.

As many Business Methodists know, venture capital is, unfortunately, a "must-have" to start up a solid business. Nau is no exception. Chris Van Dyke showed up to a VC conviction (oh, sorry, I mean convention.) where most backers had already turned courteously away from his new ground project. Nonetheless, he took the stage at Venture Northwest. He skipped the PowerPoint presentation altogether and just "rolled with it" via index cards written on an epiphany, which Nau could change the face of the way corporate business operates. Van Dyke had written on those cards, "The Top 10 Reasons Why You Don't Want to Invest in My Company." Yes, Sir, it was a shot that rang out louder for those who turned and backed away much earlier. "You could have heard a pin drop," he would recall later. Van Dyke read from the cards – which include reasons like "Executive compensation is limited to 12 times payment of the lowest employee" – The Nau CEO, then tossed those reasons into the crowd.

In a corrupt business world like the recent World Bank debacle, the former CEO wasted global resources on personal gain. The Nau philosophy has moved away from the previous "what's in it for me" bottom line into a three-dimensional theme called the Triple Bottom Line. The idea fuses not only economic elements but also, more importantly -- environmental and social aspects. In short, Nau understands meeting fiscal goals and bringing humanitarian and planetary objectives within the global business culture. One example is Nau giving each employee two paid Volunteer Days annually, for which the associate can choose the organization they want to volunteer.

As for our seasoned founder culture, Nau is heavy on tangible assets from Patagonia, Nike, Adidas, Starbucks, and other corporate entities. This fresh start organically facilitated authentic Creatives jumping over to Nau with up to a 70% cut in annual pay. Not to mention causing a stir throughout the industry. Can I get a witness? Is my mind playing tricks on me? Is this a collective of individuals finally choosing the right color of sustainable green? Actions sure do speak louder than words on an index card. Salute!

Eric Reynolds trademarked the name Webfront on February 14, 2005.

Its' description says, "Computerized online retail store and mail order services that integrate Internet and website content into retail store locations in the field of consumer goods." Reynolds' idea overlooks the traditional wholesale practice of opening webfronts and selling directly to customers.

A Webfront coming in 2007 is Nau's physical Internet showroom, a conscious art gallery. It's filled with an exhibition of apparel based on beauty, performance, and sustainability. The stores are ecologically friendly and are only about 2,000 square feet. 

It's been said that webfronts are approximately 40% more efficient than "old school" retail stores in terms of the sales-per-square-foot model. Nau describes these Webfront stores as a new shopping experience that blends traditional brick-and-mortar product display ideas and direct consumer interaction with evolving Web-based research and product comparison practice.

The Webfront concept means riding to the Webfront in your city, seeking out products, cop a feel, grabbing a product scan card… hitting up what is called "the product tree," and scanning the card. The monitor gives individuals extensive information, imagery, and even more options. 

If you need anything, a dedicated associate is nearby to answer any questions. After that, save 10% on each piece within the collection by ordering your purchase inside the Webfront, with free shipping utilizing in-store "web kiosks." The client can, however, walk out with their purchase.

Instead of having "rock climbing" walls, as some established retailers have done, Webfronts have what's called Giving Walls. The Giving Wall is an innovative marketing method. Two touchscreen monitors showcase extensive information about Change Agents working closely with Nau on local, regional, and multi-national levels. Nau then donates 5% of every transaction to social and environmental organizations.

In addition, the Nau customer gets to hand-pick the charity of choice. They strike an emotional chord throughout the entire process. A new audience will be introduced to sustainability and the power of giving. Another footprint brought on by the Nau philosophy.

Enter Nau.com; a sense of mystery comes to mind. This is not just another Web-based commerce machine. Nau.com is about conscious commerce. Nonetheless, much is happening within this domain. However, you choose your journey with simple navigation. The Thought Kitchen, The Collective… I almost forgot – the Products.

Which button to push first? Oh hell, I click on… The Collective feels right -- loading…loading finally, you realize that Lance Armstrong "type" athletes are no longer needed because the real heroes come out and play without multi-million dollar endorsement deals. The Collective is about authentic purpose.

Anyone can submit a story. A $1500 incentive is given to a select community of Influencers who change an individual's corner of the world. That is why Nau gives its marketing dollars to individuals who tell compassionate stories through video, imagery, and composition. At last, I am itching to discover what The Thought Kitchen is all about. It took a little time. The Thought Kitchen is an extension of every element of Nau.com; it's about compelling content and education for positive change. More than an eco-blog, it exposes multi-dimensional art forms.

“There is no need for labels. This iconic formulation showcases a much-needed change of design DNA in an industry that is "insignia" heavy. As a result, the influencers will support and educate, and the rest will be history. One thing is sure…the way business is accomplished will never be the same”, says Brand Communications Director, Jonathan Shaun Crutcher.

The group's primary mandate was to create a company "from the ground up and give it a kind of, frankly, moral character an individual should have," says VP/Product Design Mark Galbraith, who acknowledges the brutal challenge in developing sustainability without that "crunchy" look.

"For me, it was an incredibly creative challenge to take these raw materials and do something high performance that was very stylish, that has great color and feel and at the same time steps out of the traditional paradigm of the outdoor uniform – to blend performance with a more style-driven urban sensibility so the product has a much broader use in your life." Nau didn't design a product line with off-the-shelf fabrications.

For one, sustainable fabrics at the time didn't meet Nau's rigorous but worthwhile criteria. Nau works very closely with textile manufacturers around the world. They have refined 28 textiles (and counting) made of recycled polyester, merino wool, a corn-based fabric called PLA (polylactic acid), and various organic cotton. Keeping with the beauty concept, most recycled polyester collections have an ultra-soft hand. Moreover, Nau doesn't keep trade secrets.

The company has created an "open source" program on who and where these sustainable textiles are made. You can't change the world by keeping intellectual property secrets about sustainable materials. I've heard many industry people say, "That's suicide." No, that's Nau. Besides, this team is seasoned and knows how to maintain a competitive advantage without alienating others from doing well.

I must say, this "Performance Couture" strategy has been thought about and poorly executed in the past. However, Galbraith and Communal are closing in on perfecting it. Nau has been compared to Helmut Lang, Prada Sport, and other houses throughout the aged fashion industry.

An ironic element is that the Nau collection is more technical than other performance-based lines. Moreover, Nau doesn't utilize logos on their beloved creations. Stop thinking about logos altogether because when a company builds its sustainable performance fabrications, thinks up new cuts, engineers unique lines, and produces exclusive notions.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

"Listen up, what's the time?
Said today, I'm gonna speak my mind
Take me up to the top of the world
I wanna see my crime" -- Oasis.