Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Making Fun Clothing, Seriously: VoyVoy mixes fashion and finance by linking sales to micro lending projects around the world.

Making Fun Clothing, Seriously: VoyVoy mixes fashion and finance by linking sales to micro lending projects around the worldVoyVoy is an online clothing brand whose mission is to create fun clothing, seriously. This means making clothes that are both good-looking and well intentioned. VoyVoy shirts feature their signature Pocket Squaretm design made from hand-selected fabrics to detail the trimmings of their shirts. The cotton used in production is handpicked and colored using environmentally neutral dyes, reducing the impact on the planet. Furthermore, VoyVoy loans 10% of sales to microlending projects around the world, from helping a farmer in Africa increase his crops to a craftsman in South America acquire materials. Each shirt design is made in limited quantities from a unique combination of colors and patterns, so every style is refreshing.

Where the Story began:

The founder, Nat, originally established the concept in high school. Nat began his first business of hand-making and selling surfboards out of his garage with the goal of producing a fun yet sustainable board with bright patterns and new materials. Even though the business was successful, the market for hand-made surfboards and the time needed to produce them were not aligned. However, the business exposed Nat to a new world of travel, culture, and design.

It would be years later when the Polos and T-shirts arrived, but their design follows the same philosophy as his surfboards; make form and function fun. Furthermore, Nat wanted to develop a brand that produced something more than good looking and good quality. VoyVoy uses these ideals as a base, because it is something to be expected nowadays. That’s why their products are colorful and unique while also built from sustainable and durable materials. All VoyVoy shirts are made from 100% Peruvian cotton, harvested by hand and custom colored using environmentally neutral dyes. Peruvian cotton is more durable than other alternatives while remaining lightweight and breathable. VoyVoy is proud of their “Made in Peru” stamp.

More important than quality production was the deep desire to create something meaningful. The need to help others and create a better world is nothing new, but there is no best or proven way to do it. Moreover, Nat knew a company with a social mission was good motivation as well as good business.

: Making Fun Clothing, Seriously: VoyVoy mixes fashion and finance by linking sales to micro lending projects around the world

Nat Disston, Founder

Nat studied finance and business during college, exposing him to the world of microlending. He was impressed by the profound impact it had on those around the world who needed financial assistance to develop and sustain small businesses through loans, not charity. The social venture was created out of a desire to help others start their businesses, as VoyVoy is doing for itself. When launching the company, Nat was exposed to crowd funding as a way to raise capital (Look for their campaign on Kickstarter.com). Microlending can work in the same way, and we have been loaning a percentage of proceeds to small projects around the world that we find compelling. By combining Nat’s love of traveling and surfing, together with his keen interest in design and finance, VoyVoy was born.

The name itself, VoyVoy, came from several surfing trips through Central America. The term is Spanish for “I go, I go” and is frequently bellowed by surfers while riding waves. The company has its roots in both travel and surfing, while also hosting a progressive and moving forward philosophy, so the name stuck.

The VoyVoy mascot and logo, a monkey, also came from these surf trips. Mayan legends say that monkeys are both deviant and divine creatures. They are depicted in this ancient art as creative artists and hard workers. In contrast they are also shown to play tricks and provide laughter. The Mayans believed that monkeys provided the seriousness and laughter in life. Nat says this idea resonates with him and the company well, because life embodies both.

VoyVoy’s business is entirely based online or through company controlled venues. This has allowed them to provide better pricing on products and micro lending opportunities. VoyVoy doesn’t have to worry about competing with brick-n-mortar distributors on price and value. Instead, Nat can focus on his product and their borrowers who pay them back over time in monthly (micro) increments. Ideally the clothing brand makes all of it’s money back, but to VoyVoy it is much more about the journey than the destination.

VoyVoy began slowly with a small line of shirts. They sold them to friends, family, and through regional boutiques and trade shows. Taking feedback from customers, Nat has tweaked the fit and sizing while also expanding their color and product offerings. Not wanting to over promise and under deliver, Nat has been growing the company slowly but steadily.

: Making Fun Clothing, Seriously: VoyVoy mixes fashion and finance by linking sales to micro lending projects around the worldEven though VoyVoy has been in operation less than a year, it has already helped complete microloans to a handful of people on 4 continents. VoyVoy’s microlending projects continue to help more people each week. Unfortunately, billions of people around the world lack the financial opportunities that we in first world countries take for granted. VoyVoy believes that great things come from small beginnings; so for now, they’re helping people one shirt at a time.

VoyVoy is a great example of believing in yourself and your product. Nat is a believer that you won’t get far by doing something for the sake of an idea, they are a dime a dozen. If you believe it, you can execute it.

We are preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign (www.kickstarter.com), and below is a video about our company and mission, thank you.

https://vimeo.com/48119142

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