All Green Podcast Ep. 3- Saving the World Fashionably; With Joe, Co-Founder of Choast Rolls and Choast Clothes
Michael: Hey everyone! This is Michael Ghazal here from Eco Four Twenty. I am super excited today because I am here with one of the co-founders of Choast. His name is Joseph, and he is here to talk to us about sustainable fashion, and about his own fashion line that he has. So Joe, welcome to the podcast, thank you so much.
Joe: Hi Michael, thank you for having me. I really appreciate being on the show. Looking forward to chatting.
Michael: Joe and I go way back, we've been friends for many years now and I'm super honoured to be able to interview him and actually have him on the show here. I've gotten to see Joe and Choast, his company, before the even started selling, you know? So i'm so honoured to see them grow and, Joe tell us a bit about your brand and what you guys are doing at Choast.
Joe: Thank you, Mike. I'm very honoured to be here! So a little bit about us, we are a lifestyle, streetwear clothing brand from Toronto, Ontario. We have been really focusing on finding a quality, comfortable brand that's cheap on the pockets for an average consumer. We take pride in our Customer Service and and authenticity and we have a bunch of new products and new stuff coming out in 2021 that we're really excited about.
Michael: I know personally I wear a lot of your clothing, I have a hat as well that you've given me. I 100% recommend the clothing, they're comfortable, I mean, I don't know how people live in Canada without warm-weather clothing so I think it's really important-
Joe: Yeah! And that was one of the really important things, I was looking around and I wanted people to be warm, 'cause Canada is cold in the Winters and I wanted them to be comfortable and I wanted them to get something that has that quality feel, a thick feel but price-wise, easy on the pockets.
Michael: Joe, I'd love to talk-like, one cool thing we do on this show is we're just gonna bring up random topics that we see in the news, random eco-friendly initiatives, just to talk about it and get your feedback on it. Knowing you're in the fashion industry, we found a couple interesting themes that we wanted to ask about. You know, like "What do you think?", it's such cool innovation that's coming out in the world now
Joe: And needed!
Michael: So can we bring them up?
Joe: Yeah, please! I'm excited. I know there's some crazy ones here.
Michael: The first one, and honestly I didn't hear about this until like, a month ago. But, it's actually mushroom leather.
Michael: So mushrooms are used for hundreds of years for so many other amazing things that people used it for. But now they're even using it to make leather.
Joe: That's crazy!
Michael: And being able to replace cows, like instead of having to use cows, hold them there, all the maintenance that involved with growing a cow up to the point you kill it, it takes so long and so much energy.
Joe: For sure, and it's inhumane. Atleast with the mushrooms you're able to have mushroom farms and you can eat them or you can, I guess, use them for leather or maybe do both, right? That's an amazing innovation that- like these are the type of things we need in the world, right?
Michael: And this was started by all these different countries and companies are doing it. So now, there's different companies all in the mushroom leather game and they're going to compete against each other and try to push the industry forward that way.
It's interesting, a lot of people hate leather. All I know about leather is like the people who would dump buckets of paint on people and get angry-
Joe: Yeah, it's like the fur!
Michael: Yeah like PETA, like the fur. Would they be mad about this too?
Joe: No, I don't think so. Unless you think that plants have feelings, or they get hurt.
Michael: Yeah! I truly think that the mushrooms will forgive us when we make them into clothes and stuff, like that's my ultimate goal.
Joe: I'm sure they'll forgive us.
Michael: It's a good example that shows that technology is pushing us forward. There's still gonna be a lot of people using traditional leather but if this mushroom leather feels good, is cost-effective, and is basically the same, like I can't tell the difference-
Joe: Why would you ever go kill a cow for that, right?
Michael: Exactly! With mushroom leather and Beyond Meat, these cows are getting coddled-
Michael: They're all like, getting massaged now, they must be loving the life right now.
Joe: Yeah, go Beyond Meat! Great stuff you guys are doing over there. It's awesome.
Michael: So, yeah! That mushroom leather is a really cool topic that I just thought would be super interesting to bring up. I'm sure a lot of listeners don't even know about it.
Joe: Prior to this interview I had no idea what it even was, yeah.
Michael: I love it. So the other eco-friendly project we wanted to ask you about was, yeah from big companies. There's quite a few larger companies and large clothing brands that are slowly but surely doing some kind of eco-friendly projects and initiatives. We found one from the Nike, Zero-Waste initiative and Patagonia, which does this Worn-Wear initiative where they actually help take their used fabrics and make it into new fabrics again, but from the local area in L.A. So, I guess, just generally what do you think about these larger companies and what are your thoughts?
Joe: Well it's funny cause I was actually reading about Nike, I guess a couple nights back, and I heard now that they have 75% of their apparel and 75% of their shoes, contain recycled material. So like, this is the kind of stuff we aim for Choast, that in the future, if I can come up with renewable resources to make our clothing articles. That'd be a great way. I know there's a few options we were looking at that are not comfortable, like hemp, for example. That's a great renewable resource that could potentially do that but it's not as comfortable for clothing so, maybe mushroom leather for the future.
Michael: Yeah we should look into it!
Joe: Right? You never know. I really think Nike, for example, I know in the past they've had some controversy but lately they're really making some cool strides to helping preserve the earth.
Michael: Do you think they're helping push the industry? Like, if they're being more eco-friendly now their competitors have to.
Joe: Absolutely, I know the other brands, Adidas and some other guys are doing the waste water, collecting garbage from the ocean and they make shoes. And the shoes are actually really good quality and they're actually really comfy and cool. So, these are the types of things that our industry needs and hopefully one day I can be pulling into Choast as well.
Michael: I like it!
Joe: Yeah, I'm always looking for new, cool resources like that.
Michael: One thing I like about these larger companies is they're able to seek long-term investment.
Michael: You know, they know that maybe they can't be fully eco-friendly right now, but atleast they're making those small efforts that will eventually snowball into it.
Joe: For sure, and then everyone starts using renewable energies or resources and then there might be a resource that people start using that is actually really good and it just leads the industry into a better place for the world.
Michael: I like it, it's like Nike kind of like, created a lot of these problems, now they're solving it a bit and trying to make more eco-friendly initiatives.
Joe: It's great seeing Nike do it too, cause like, we've grown up with Nike, as you know, it's like a nostalgic brand for us, right? Watching the big athletes, and the Olympic athletes, and I've actually read their book and that was one of my favourites so it's great seeing these guys do what they're doing.
Michael: I really think it's cool to see these initiatives. Like in 20 years, 50 years, maybe they'll be able to use all of the waste from the ocean to make 100% of the clothing. I mean, all in all it's really cool. If you don't mind me asking, is this something that is on the rise in fashion in general?
Joe: Yeah, I know for example, Levis, they had a hemp collab. They actually made a comfortable hemp so they're changing the industry in that sense.
Michael: Oh the jeans, nice!
Joe: Yeah the jeans and I think some of their sweaters, they're making a mixed blend of stuff, right? Cotton and hemp, so you're seeing all these brands do new stuff, bringing in a eco-friendly twist to it and I think a lot of consumers are really gonna love that.
Michael: I think that's amazing, over all so. Thank you for bringing this up, all the sustainable fashion-
Joe: Yeah of course! It's something that I hope we can do with Choast one day, with even our accessories and anything, right? If you can help save the planet and give a great product, why not?
Michael: Joe thank you for taking that time. The other thing I would love to do in this podcast is just generally ask you questions.
Joe: Yeah sure!
Michael: You know, in particular, I really admire you as an entrepreneur, I've gotten to visit you at a lot of these trade shows you visited. I'd love to know just overall, first of, how has the industry been going for you now, in the last 2 years. through Covid and everything. But in particular, what kind of projects are you excited about in 2021?
Joe: Yeah so, the industry, I guess as a whole, cause of the malls being shut down and everything like that. A lot of clothing brands are not getting shut down, I'm seeing a lot of slow down and a push towards a digital era. So I would say, a big push and a big thing that's coming for 2021 would be, getting a website and just making sure that the consumers that are not at the malls anymore are able to go to a website and give that experience- the best experience possible. Going on a website like as if it's a store and giving them that experience, so, one of the things that we're doing with Choast is we've redone our website, by the time this is out it'll probably be live and up. Yeah, that's something we're excited about 'cause yeah, it's a new era it's a new world, and you've got to be on the digital side of things.
Michael: Even I know, so many people who might've never bought clothing online, they need it to go to the mall and to the store. Now they're just doing it online, only, exclusively.
Joe: 100%, and you might see now that these retail shops in the malls might get more scarce, right? You see just this online push and these marvellous websites are coming out for all these brands so just the new era and the new movement, right?
Michael: I like it! You're already at the forefront of that.
Joe: Yeah I'm trying to be, yeah.
Michael: That's a great answer, yeah! So, the next question I have is what are some of the ways that you, Joe, have personally stayed grounded through Covid?
Joe: Yeah so, I've been doing a lot of reading. It's a good way to relax, I mean, there's lots of ups and downs obviously, everyone with Covid has it. Meditation is a brand new things I've introduced to my life- Calm app. I don't know if anyone has ever tried the Calm app, but I highly, highly recommend it. It's 80 bucks a year but it's changed my life, 10 minutes a day of just breathing and being with yourself is important. And then just staying connected with all the local entrepreneurs like yourself, Mike. I appreciate the kind words and you're the same thing to me, like I look up to you and I've seen how much you've come and grown and just being around people like yourself really keep you grounded and keep you moving forward in 2021.
Michael: And doing that, having to do it in a digital way. Like, we used to meet in person, and never being able to meet in person over the last year has been hard from that. But even, doing it digitally- phonecalls, all that stuff.
Joe: That's amazing now, yesterday we were on a Facetime with like, four of my business partners and friends and it's like, so cool to be able to connect in so many different cool ways now, right? So yeah, that's important; stay connected with your friends and family and stay positive.
Michael: And hopefully it will be done by 2021 so we don't have to deal with it anymore.
Joe: For sure, I hope so. I'm sick of it.
Michael: I know earlier in the podcast, you mentioned that you read the Nike book. Is there other books that you've used or, what are some books that have helped you to live a fulfilling life?
Joe: Yeah, no I would actually really recommend the book I was talking about. It's called Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It's the Nike documentary, for me it was good because it has something to do with clothing and I learned a lot about just, how they built up the brand and whatnot. One book I'd recommend just off the bat, Deep Work by Cal Newport. It's just a book, just getting focused, is one thing I'm trynna work on myself is just getting focused and zoomed into what ever task is on hand. So that book really helped me focus in and figure out the strategy and methods I need to do to stay focused and get a lot of work done. Those two books, I mean if you're in the fashion industry, for sure read that, the first one I said there, the Shoe Dog, and yeah if you're looking to focus I really like Cal Newport's book, Deep Work.
Michael: They're great recommendations and we'll make sure to list them in the actual podcast at the bottom. So the listeners can find them for sure, and you're a big entrepreneur that I look up to.
Joe: Thank you, Mike.
Michael: What I would really wanna ask is like, for other people who are businesses or entrepreneurs, what advice would you give them to start or, just to make it in 2021 and through this hard thing that we call entrepreneurship.
Joe: I'm with a lot of my friends and just things that I've seen I find a lot of people are having a hard time starting, cause it's like "is it the right thing?" the way the world's moving, is this gonna be forever? So, one of my suggestions would be just start, get into it, figure it out as you go, you just kind've gotta go with the flow and make it happen.
Michael: Start with the minimum viable product.
Michael: Even if there's a cheaper way to get it going-
Joe: Right! Test, test, test it out. Get samples, test it, see if your friends like it, use it yourself, and if you're looking to start something as an entrepreneur, just get in. That's why we started with the fashion brand and honestly it's turned out so beautifully for us, 'cause now we've networked into many other things, we're getting into accessories and all sorts of fun stuff.
Michael: But even that, like you didn't just start with a whole clothing line. You started with a couple products, right?
Joe: Exactly, we actually started with hats and you work up to t-shirts and sweaters, and we worked our way up to what we are now and now we have a full variety of items and we weren't sure at the beginning if it was something that we wanted to do but as we went we saw the response of people. They loved the clothes, they loved the way things felt and wore, and we realized we had something, so. Just test, and if it's not the right thing, don't worry about it, you're gonna fail and keep failing and keep figuring it out and you'll hit your little home run.
Michael: I love that, Joe. It's honestly the best advice any entrepreneur can get and I'm glad to hear it from you. Thank you for coming on the podcast and giving us your words of wisdom, it's really insightful.
Joe: I really appreciate being here, thanks for having me.
Michael: If I can ask, can you tell everybody where they can find you? How they can connect with you? What are the best avenues of social media?
Joe: Yeah so our website is just, www.Choast.ca or www.Choast.com., we have the Youtube Channel- Nation of Choast Gaming, check us out there it's like a retro video game channel. Kind've like the Pokemon craze, I just think the retro gaming phase might come through and have something come up, so check that out. And then we're on Facebook and Twitter- @Choast13, and I believe that's all of them.
Michael: That's the best, yeah! Alright, and we'll also put those links at the bottom as well for everybody. Joe, thank you so much for coming on. We're definitely gonna have you on a lot more, as we talk about eco-friendly projects and everything so thank you so much man, it's been a blast.
Joe: Mike, I just want to acknowledge you as an entrepreneur and I just wanted to say yeah, like. I've learned a lot from you and it's been great being here, so thank you for having me.
Michael: Thank you man, many times more.
Joe: Yeah, for sure.
Joe: Talk soon, ciao.