Brandon Davenport and Marcellus Alexander, III, are self-described “polo shirt nerds.” They work and play in the high-energy environment of New York City, and polo shirts go from the office to happy hour to Sunday brunch to the beach. They look great with sweats, jeans, slacks. They bought high-quality (i.e., high-priced) polos, but the shirts did not hold up. In eight months or less, they were faded, out of shape, shrunken and stained, and the dreaded bacon color was beyond help. And so the day came when the former tech entrepreneurs said, “Enough!” They recognized a need and set out to meet it by founding a company, the Baobab Clothing Company, that would incorporate technology and innovation to produce sustainable clothing. And they would start with the Baobab Polo Shirt, designed in New York City and sustainably manufactured in Lima, Peru, the world leader in garment making and innovative textile development.
The two friends make a winning team. Brandon has a degree in finance from Morgan State University, has founded two startups, and is experienced in digital strategy, product strategies and analytics. He also authored, “Step by Step Guide to Obtaining Your First Internship for a Career in Digital.” Marcellus has a degree in business management from Hampton University and a solid background in business development, digital media strategies and online customer acquisition. Together, they have built a better polo shirt.
They began by working with engineers and fabric specialists. The shirt is made of luxurious, durable Pima cotton, grown in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Included in its many advantages, Pima cotton is moisture-wicking and has a four-way stretch for a tailored fit.
The fabrication process uses nanotechnology to make the shirt stain- and wrinkle-resistant. The material is also antimicrobial and neutralizes and blocks odors. You can wear the shirt 10-15 times before it needs laundering. As for that rippled bacon collar, Brandon and Marcellus have a utility patent on their invention, the “stay flat collar,” that uses invisible snaps to keep the collar looking neat. And, in an incredible “OMG! They thought of everything!” touch, there is a microfiber cloth hidden inside the shirt for cleaning eyeglasses, watch face or smart phone screen.
All polo shirts have a symbol, and what else would they have other than a stylized baobab tree. They chose the baobab tree, because it is an icon of the African continent known as the “tree of life” that has been around longer than humans have. During the rainy season, the tree stores water in its trunk and produces nutrient-dense fruit, so that, during the arid season, people are able to sustain themselves with water and nourishment. Like the tree, Brandon and Marcellus want to produce timeless, long-lasting clothing.
As millennial entrepreneurs, Brandon and Marcellus recognize their responsibility to the planet and their need to give back. They hope that the technical advancements that they have implemented, and will implement, will be used by other companies to reduce fashion waste and employ sustainable manufacturing practices. Through their Social Enterprise initiative, Brandon and Marcellus plan to help entrepreneurs of color to obtain the resources needed to build successful, environmentally responsible businesses that have a positive impact in their communities.