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From The Ashes Green 3 Rises

From The Ashes Green 3 Rises

Sandy Martin

One might wonder, what happens to a town that is globally known for a company that resides there, when that company goes away? A bigger question is what happens to the employees who helped build that global brand? Those questions relate perfectly to two companies in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Ask any adult over the age of 35 about Oshkosh B’Gosh, and a smile will come their faces as they remember the railroad stripe overalls they likely had as a child. For many people outside of Oshkosh, WI, the question of whether the town was named for the company or the company was named for the town is a very real one. After 100 years of supplying high quality apparel and accessories, made in the USA for the first 80 years, the company was sold in 2005 and with the sale many of the employees found themselves out of work. As the story of the phoenix goes, from the ashes a beautiful bird sometimes rises.

In 2005 former Oshkosh B’Gosh and apparel industry veteran, Sandy Martin decided to start her own apparel company in Oshkosh, WI. Her company was going to be built upon the core tenets of environmental awareness and USA production. Her mission was not built on any marketing strategy, but rather on principles that were born from years of international travel, and an equal number of years growing up on farm in Michigan. The international travel had taken her to the far corners of the earth, and in those corners she had seen both the good and the bad of how clothing was made in factories of all sizes. She knew that in her heart she wanted to start a company that brought apparel jobs back to the USA. Jobs that would offer fair wages and decent working conditions to the employees that worked there. Jobs in facilities that she could visit easily and monitor to assure that these standards were being met. She also knew that traditional and conventional methods of farming, laden with toxic chemicals, would not be the source of the products she wanted to produce. Too clearly in her own family had she seen the negative health impacts of this conventional methodology. Her products were to be American made and produced with methods that caused the least possible impact on the environment, and would utilize sustainable fibers of all kinds. With these principles in place Sandy began to develop her business plan. In 2006, with $25,000 and the help of her daughter and husband, Green 3 was born.

From The Ashes Green 3 RisesArmed with a sample line of less than one dozen styles, Sandy contracted for a 10 x 10 foot booth at her first wholesale tradeshow. The response to the early line of organic cut and sew knits was good, and at that show Sandy took an order from a nationally recognized catalog retailer for the upcoming season. Six months later, Sandy’s husband Jim, also an ex-B’Gosh executive, joined Sandy full time and the couple committed themselves to building a company. As the line of organic cut and sew knits expanded to include recycled cotton sweater knit garments, so did the number of wholesale trade shows attended. Now attending trade shows in Atlanta, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and its second full year of business, Green 3 found itself with coast to coast specialty store distribution, and a growing portfolio of catalog retail customers. At the conclusion of that second year revenues also entered in seven figures for the first time. By then Green 3 was moving to it third location in three years. With the expansion in square footage came an expansion of staff. Quickly Sandy and Jim began adding highly skilled apparel industry veterans who happened to be available right in their backyard. With these additions this small company was being staffed by ex-Oshkosh B’Gosh employees who knew what it took to make high quality products in the USA. Now in its fifth full year of operation, Green 3 has 17 employees, 8 of which are ex-B’Gosh. These industry vets include an art director, a master sewer and pattern maker, a research and development expert, a technical designer and others. Sandy quickly began to leverage this talent to add a third category of product to the mix; re-engineered. Re-engineered products are items that are made from other existing reclaimed products. For example, the first item was a scarf made from damaged and defective t-shirts. Next came the “suit tote”, a women’s tote bag made from reclaimed men’s suit coats. This year one of the hottest Green 3 items is the sweater skirt. Each skirt is made up of 10 panels that come from reclaimed sweaters. Each is unique, and each is fantastic! Today Green 3 is still known for its organic knit tops and its amazing recycled cotton sweater knits, but more and more it is becoming known for these incredible re-engineered products that keep coming out of Oshkosh, WI.

From The Ashes Green 3 Rises Green 3 is now carried by over 600 special stores coast to coast, and provides products to a myriad of globally recognized catalog retailers. Its products still remain true to Sandy’s original vision of environmental awareness and USA production. It is now under one 18,000 square foot roof, where design, distribution, and its first company store is now located. Green 3 has also just re-launched its web site at www.green3apparel.com , and can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/green3apparel . Green 3 is proud to be located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and is thrilled to be able to carry a little of Oshkosh’s past with it as it moves forward into the future. With every step it takes moving forward, Green 3 will be building its team with an incredibly talented group that just happened to work together at another great company that once had been located only minutes away. Can Green 3 someday have the awareness that other great Oshkosh based brand had? Well time will tell, but it’s off to a great start!

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