Retold Recycling has developed a service for the collective need for a textile-recycling solution for any and all household textiles, sustainably diverting them from the landfill. | Photo courtesy of Retold Recycling
As of Thursday, May 11, 2023
The marketplace has reached the point where it requires an equal amount of creativity to figure out what to do with the products of our creativity. You could say we’re coming full circle, and that’s precisely what is meant by the circular economy and product life cycle. Fresh ideas and innovations are needed, with fresh minds behind them.
One of the latest to take the stage is Amelia Trumble, founder of the Los Angeles–based Retold Recycling and a contestant on TV’s “Shark Tank.” There, cohost Mark Cuban saw the opportunity to expand into retail and own the category Retold Recycling was creating. Cuban has a track record of supporting businesses that help society at large and made the fledgling company an offer.
The California Apparel News caught up with the busy entrepreneur to learn about her innovative enterprise.
Amelia Trumble, founder of the Los Angeles–based Retold Recycling
CAN: How did Retold Recycling come about?AT: I co-founded Retold Recycling in 2020 when I worked in marketing at MAC Cosmetics in New York and frequently talked about a long-term pivot to invest our efforts into a business that was doing good for the earth. Years later, I was renovating my closets in a small New York City apartment and was frustrated to find no solution to easily de-clutter unwanted clothes without adding to a landfill. I crystallized the idea over dinner one evening with an early partner, and then Alan Yeoh invited himself to join us in the business, who is the math guy and a customer-data guru.
CAN: How is Retold Recycling fulfilling a sustainability need?
AT: We have developed a service for our collective need for a textile-recycling solution. From what we have learned about the industry, textile recycling has been a very B2B-based practice. There have been limited solutions for post-consumer waste and certainly none that focus on a simple and convenient solution. Furthermore, from a technical point of view, fabric recycling is difficult because most garments can contain multiple materials, with various blends of fibers. Thankfully, there is a constant development of technologies, including upcycling into new fabrics by amazing companies such as Evrnu. Textiles that are put in the recycling bin still sit in landfills because regular recycling facilities don’t have the right machinery to recycle clothing and textiles. This means any clothing you put in the recycling bin can take years to biodegrade and, of course, contributes to toxic air pollution.
CAN: How does it actually work?
AT: Retold Recycling is a convenient mail-in subscription service for recycling any and all household textiles, sustainably diverting them from landfill. Items sent in each yellow Retold bag are sorted before going to thrift stores, charities, reuse partners, rag companies and, soon, next-generation fabric houses.
CAN: What is your vision for the future of Retold Recycling?
AT: When we appeared on “Shark Tank” in February, it was a real pinch-me moment. And when Mark Cuban made us an investment offer we couldn’t refuse, it took a long time to believe it was real. After “Shark Tank” we have blown many of our 2023 revenue and partnership goals out of the water already, but some of our longer-term goals include educating all Americans on the impact of textile recycling; becoming synonymous with recycling, as in “I am going to Retold that”; getting involved in policy and advocating for change in the textile industry; expanding internationally; and becoming B Corp certified. We have also been lucky to have partnered with some amazing wellness and lifestyle brands, including Verizon, Jenni Kayne, Vitamin A Swim, Boody, Dropps, Chomps, The Revury and many more.
CAN: What do you see as the biggest opportunity in this space?
AT: We believe the biggest opportunity is around education simply because there are so many consumers who don’t even realize they are contributing to landfills by throwing their old underwear or socks in the trash. That’s why we are obsessive about education and spreading our #nolandfill mission. The more people we have mindfully diverting their old items to recycling is how we will really make a difference for Mother Earth and drive even further industry development and funding.