Jackie Smythe, CEO and Co-founder of INFKNIT Apparel Inc. The Versatile Sustainable Streetwear

  • Published on:
    August 8, 2020
  • Reading time by:
    5 minutes

The latest fashion trend isn’t a seasonal color or a must-have style: It’s the concept of sustainable fashion and ethical clothing. The textiles industry is wreaking havoc on the environment between the processes to make clothing and the waste when it gets tossed, so brands and consumers alike have taken a much-needed interest in improving these issues.

And while there’s no such thing as “eco-friendly clothing” — i.e. all garments have at least some negative impact on the environment — there are brands working diligently to help make a difference. Different brands focus on combating various issues in the fashion industry – some just one, while others are tackling multiple.

We interviewed Bossbabe Jackie Smythe, CEO and Co-founder of INFKNIT Apparel Inc. INFKNIT Apparel Inc. is a versatile sustainable streetwear for people on the go. INFKNIT Apparel Inc. current products are completely reversible and offer functional features intended to maximize small closet spaces. They want to maximize your time and minimize your used closet space.

INFKNIT Apparel Inc.’s goal with its products is to make them easily transitional so you can go from class to a professional setting to social outings. This saves time and eliminates the extra time needed to run home and INFKNIT Apparel Inc. aims to create pieces that allow the consumer to easily alter their look for any occasion that is thrown their way. All their products are built with sustainable fabric and made to order to reduce waste. Their overall mission is to minimize the average closet without compromising variety while remaining environmentally conscious. 

Who says you can’t look good, feel good, and do your part in promoting smart fashion?

Can you introduce yourself, your position and your brand?

My name is Jackie Smythe, I’m Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of INFKNIT Apparel. As Chief Executive Officer, my hand plays a role in almost every part of INFKNIT: from creative direction to accounting to legal directives to supply chain and team management. As creative director, I determine the overall company vision through designs, mood boards, and defining our brand. My favorite part about my position is sketching designs, merchandising fabric, and working with Soft Goods Detroit, our manufacturer, on prototyping and production runs. I account for INFKNIT’s costs in QuickBooks, work with our accountant, and manage all related bank accounts. Another one of my favorite responsibilities is handling legal directives. I work with our lawyer when necessary, but I filed the provisional patent on the tie-up mechanism and the trademark pending on INFKNIT’s name via the USPTO myself.  Lastly, I’m responsible for creating meeting minutes, assigning tasks to my team, and holding team members accountable. I’m also a junior at Michigan State University studying Supply Chain Management with a minor in Entrepreneurship. 

How would you describe INFKNIT Apparel?

INFKNIT Apparel Inc. is a versatile sustainable streetwear for people on the go. Our products- the No.1 Dress, Back2Back Long Sleeve and Jack of all Trades – are completely reversible and offer functional features intended to maximize small closet spaces. From a cramped dorm to a small New York apartment to a global traveler – these consumers are all fighting to maximize space in their closets. People in their twenties are busy and constantly on the move, from at home, class, work, or social outings. In some cases, changing outfits multiple times per day to remain dressed appropriately for the occasion. From class to a professional setting to social outings, INFKNIT can be worn in an INFKNIT number of occasions.

Our products are composed of sustainable fabric and hand-cut and sewn at our manufacturer Soft Goods Detroit. Sustainability, transparency, and ethics are the core values of INFKNIT Apparel. Our overall mission is to minimize the average closet without compromising variety and versatility while remaining environmentally conscious. Who says you can’t look good, feel good, and do your part in promoting smart fashion? INFKNIT is here to make it all happen. Our products are available for purchase at www.infknit.com

How do you differentiate yourself from other streetwear brands?

INFKNIT differentiates itself from other sustainable streetwear brands through versatility. We specialize in apparel for multi-use versatility, that is, our apparel is completely reversible and offers functional features. This allows the consumer to create many looks in one, maximizing closet space while minimizing waste. Since INFKNIT’s pieces take the place of multiple garments in one, the consumers need to purchase more clothes and support fast fashion is reduced. The concept of intertwining reversible clothing with slow fashion is what sets us apart from competitors, reaching a unique market specific to INFKNIT.

What was your background prior to launching in the fashion industry?

Before starting INFKNIT I had zero background in the fashion industry. I’ve always loved clothes- the Nordstrom anniversary sale was practically Christmas in my household. I planned to work in fashion and dreamed of being a buyer for my own company. I think that coming into the fashion industry with no prior experience allowed me to think outside the norms of the field. People who study a field and consider themselves a ‘professional’ set boundaries around what’s possible. Professionals carry a set of predispositions; their education of the field leaves them in a sort of ‘box’ thinking. The designs I develop are not those you would see from any real fashion designer. That’s because my ideas are often seen as outside the realm of possibilities. The products are difficult to make and pose manufacturing challenges so a traditional designer is unlikely to create something similar. I do think the outsider perspective has offered me some advantages from a design standpoint. I still have tons to learn about fashion and have barely dipped my toe in.

Any advice for entrepreneurs on moving beyond a failure?

I believe failure is one of the most essential characteristics of entrepreneurship because it promotes lifelong learning. Entrepreneurs need some failure to propel forward and improve their ideas. Not every business idea is going to work, in fact most do not, but that’s okay. Often the best ideas are a product of failure. Failure moves the entrepreneur one step closer to success. From my experience, failure might mean something as large as launching a business that doesn’t stick or something as small as sending an email out to customers without them Bcc’d (yes this is a mistake my co-founder and I made a long time ago but you better bet that we will never make this mistake again). Failure truly is the best way to learn. It’s so important to embrace those low moments and learn from them instead of feeling discouraged.

What drove you to set up your brand?

INFKNIT Apparel was founded in August of 2018 during a Michigan State Study abroad analyzing business sustainability and entrepreneurship in Costa Rica by myself and Olivia Miller. A concept similar to INFKNIT was born in Costa Rica and months later, the idea was pitched again to a panel of professors as an aspect of the final project for the class. These professors were fascinated with the pitch and encouraged us to apply to the Hatch, MSU’s on-campus business incubator. In April 2019, after developing at the Hatch for about six months, we first met with our manufacturer, Josh York from Soft Goods Detroit. Since then I began designing with Josh on prototyping the No. 1, Back2Back, Jack of all Trades and all other future releases. In October 2019, INFKNIT launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $7,000. We were able to raise over $10,000 through the Kickstarter campaign which provided a foundation for INFKNIT’s continued success today.

What has been your greatest piece/bestselling can you show us (in pictures) and why do you think this has been the most successful one?

INFKNIT’s best-selling piece is our Back2Back Long Sleeve.  The Back2Back Long Sleeve is a reversible military green or black thermal shirt composed of 100% organic cotton. It features a black color-blocked neckline on the military green side and is accentuated with a faux leather laser cut INFKNIT logo. I believe this piece has been the most successful because not only does it appeal to both men and women but it’s a closet basic with a twist. The serged seam on the black side and color-blocked neckline on the green side are design aspects unique to the Back2Back. This leaves the Back2Back as a closet essential that can be styled for INFKNIT occasions. 

Ways to Style

  1. Black long sleeve
  2. Military green long sleeve
  3. Black long sleeve with military green cuffed sleeves
  4. Military green long sleeve with black cuffed sleeves

See more of the brand at INFKNIT and @INFKNIT

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