Dan Barry is the founder of Marc Skid, LLC, a cheeky, eco-friendly underwear brand owner with a passion for giving back. Made with the finest cotton, Organic Pima, and with a recycled water bottle in each waistband, Marc Skid underwear is dedicated to the betterment of the world and its people. The mission of the brand is to allow people to Make Their Marc on the World by donating four dollars per pair to 4-Star Charities dedicated to saving, feeding, and curing the world.
With $4 going to charity with every pair purchased. The consumer chooses from one of the nine 4-star charities working to Save, Feed, or Cure the World. The $4 donation is transparent and quantifiable which differs from the “one for one” or “% of net profit” approach.
Purposeful Marc Skid is the only underwear brand using the world’s finest cotton -- organic pima. Organic Pima represents only .0005% of all cotton harvested in a given year. Additionally, Marc Skid is the only brand using Repreve, which is polyester up-cycled from water bottles. There is one water bottle in each waistband. Although expensive, it is the right thing to do because of the world plastic issue. Eighty-five per cent of plastic waste, which can take a thousand years to decompose, goes into landfill sites.
The cheeky name was inspired by the creator’s belief that, as Mark Twain observed,
“The human race has one really effective weapon, that is laughter.”
During his mission trips, no matter how difficult the circumstances, laughter prevailed and united.
When I put together the business plan in 2015, the first thing I wrote was the brand’s call to action: Make Your Marc on the World. It is the mission of the brand, and it drove me to want to do more in every phase of bringing the brand to market. I can confidently say that there are many things unique to our brand within the industry as a whole and, perhaps, within the entire apparel industry.
First and foremost is our $4 donation per pair of undies committed to helping Feed, Save and Cure the World. Our ‘giving back’ model is different to most in that it is clear and transparent about the money given on behalf of the customer. Once a customer decides whether he or she wants to Feed, Save or Cure the World, that customer then chooses which four-star charity will receive their $4. To maximise our efforts to make a difference, we believe that money in the hands of expert charities is the most efficient and effective way to Make Our Marc on the World.
I know from my twenty-five years in the corporate world that larger brands often do not make changes until they see smaller brands being successful. In any industry, small brands are usually the innovators. For example, we could realistically upcycle every single water bottle into polyester fibres for use in all forms of textiles. Just take note sometimes of clothing labels, to see how much virgin polyester is being used. To me, it’s a cost that should be borne.
I hope the story of Marc Skid inspires other people to hold onto their dreams and ideas and make them a reality when the time to do so is right. There are two key points of inspiration for the brand. The idea behind Marc Skid came to me more than 25 years ago. I was drinking a few beers and chatting with a good buddy. We started talking about underwear because he had a pair of high-end underwear on the coffee table. Both of us got a kick out of observing that all an underwear company needed to do to sell its product is put a “fly bod” on its packaging and roll with it. More than any other apparel item, underwear seemed to embrace this empty, superficial, vanity-driven marketing approach.
That’s when the idea came to us that all brands – not just underwear –should possess the same qualities as people we admire, those qualities being a sense of humour, a strong character, and a goal of living a purposeful life. My Dad often taught little lessons with quotes. One of his more frequent quotes was, “Everybody would be beautiful if they could be.” Yes, it is true that we all aspire to a better self. Physical beauty might be one aspiration – but there are so many more important aspirations. One of the main desires of Marc Skid was to make those aspirations immediately actionable. When you buy a pair of Marc Skid underwear, you are making an eco-friendly fashion choice – that’s an action. When you decide which charity to donate $4 to – that’s an action that can impact the world. The other key inspiration for me came from being blessed to see great examples in my life about the responsibility of the individual to give back to the greater world. The closest examples were my parents and Sister Laurinda – each of whom now has a Marc Skid underwear style named after them.
My parents have been, and are to this day, very involved in my hometown. Each of my parents has served my hometown community in elected offices and as volunteers in programs bettering the community. Sister Laurinda, my Mom’s childhood best friend, became a nun, and started a mission in Honduras. I saw her good works in action when I joined her in doing mission work in Honduras. To this day, nothing has impacted me more than my mission trips. So, in 2015, when my 25 year career in the beer business ended, I had no doubt what I wanted to do next!
My first comment would not be advice but a “thank you” to anyone who wants to Make a Marc on the World. Most importantly, my advice is to be inspired every day by your purpose as a brand. Believe me, in your journey there will be plenty of ups and downs. You will need the energy of your purpose. For me, I focus on the impact that my brand could make if successful. To put it in simple terms, this is what one pair of undies and a $4 donation can do to Save, Feed, and Cure the World: plant four trees, feed a child in the developing world for twelve days, vaccinate two children, or provide safe drinking water for an individual for seven years.
We are a brand new start-up but for a second, let’s let our optimism run wild and say we sold 2.5 million pairs of underwear! That would be $10 million given to our wonderful charity partners. $10 million would plant 10 million trees, provide 30 million days of full meals to children, vaccinate 5 million children, or provide seven years of safe drinking water for 2.5 million people. From a pure business advice standpoint, I hate to profess a common adage, repeated to all, but I have found it is indeed true that whatever your timeline from concept to launch is, double it!
I would be humbled to have the opportunity to expand. As a start-up, I had to limit my offer with regard to sizes and styles. Of course, I have other types of apparel that I think would be desirable to customers, and that would offer additional opportunities for us to Make Our Marc on the World together.
Check out more about this amazing initiative at the website here: https://marcskid.com
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