Eleanor Turner: changing underwear
“I was holding a six pack of novelty Valentine’s Day underwear at Walgreens and I thought, ‘I need to fix this’,” says Eleanor Turner (B.F.A., fashion, 2008). “While packing last minute for a business trip, I realized I had no clean underwear. I went to the only store that was open and left with these hideous heart-covered underpants.”
Turner saw the need for change. Now, the entrepreneur and designer’s new venture The Big Favorite is redefining the business of underwear.
“People care about the companies they support, and how those companies operate on a global scale,” Turner say. “Consumers want quality, comfort, and style, and they also want to know that the places they shop are mindful of their impact on the planet. That is why I started a company that is going to recycle underwear.”
As part of SCAD’s Guests and Gusto lecture series, Eleanor shared her vision with future designers.
The first piece of advice I give any entrepreneur is, “If you are going to fail, fail on somebody else’s dime.” When the company is yours, every decision matters. Where to locate, who to work with, how many hangers do you need? Every decision costs money, and when you first start out, money is tight.
Before I co-founded my first company, Argent, I worked at some of the biggest fashion houses in New York. Each stop taught me something new and prepared me for my own launch. My time at Tommy Hilfiger taught me the importance of the runway show to our marketing strategy. While at Tory Burch I learned how to work with wholesalers, and when I designed for J. Crew, I learned how to fail at a big scale.
Getting to make mistakes early in my career allowed me the ability to learn how to recover, re-prioritize, and not repeat them when my name was on the door.
I did not know that I was an entrepreneur at heart when I first got to SCAD. That changed one day when I found an old button in the garage when I was home my junior year.
It read “The Big Favorite.” I asked my dad what it was and he told me my great-grandfather started a clothing business in the 1930s. From there I was hooked. I thought about his company and how I could follow in those footsteps. Today, I stand here, launching my second company, wiser and more prepared, believing the world is going to embrace recycled undergarments.
Over $500 million of garments is discarded every year, and more than 11 million pounds of undergarments are sent to landfills daily. I felt it was time for a change and we are making that change at The Big Favorite. We are going to use 100% pima cotton to make our undershirts and underwear to eliminate plastic particles. When our users are finished wearing these items, we will collect and aggregate the clothes, turning them back into new yarn, creating new garments.
Our goal is simple: reduce waste, have an eco-friendly supply chain, and do it from the bottom up.
Join The Big Favorite revolution.
By Robert Almand