From 2003 to 2013, in Tlaxcala, Mexico, 740 textile companies out of 879 were closed. Around 15,000 jobs were lost due to the lack of differentiation in their products, fragmentation of the production chain and global opening. Most of the surviving companies were trapped in a vicious cycle of manufacturing low value-added products which limited the design and production capacity that the national and international markets demanded.
This adverse environment coupled by the fact that the textile/fashion industry is considered the second cause of pollution in the world were the inspiration to create Novabori in 2014.
In order to face these global challenges, the venture incorporated a business model capable of identifying the optimal way to join the value chains of their customers and thus delivering solutions in fabrics that generate sustainably competitive advantages based on cost, delivery times and design. The basis of Novabori’s solutions are the research and co-development of substrates; the ability to integrate both human and technological talent into the value chain; and, the ability to adapt immediately to fashion trends.
EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey
The fashion industry is one of the most environmentally hazardous industries and there is a big need to reduce the environmental impact. During 1993 and 2013 the Mexican textile industry in Tlaxcala experienced massive cuts and many local manufacturers going out-of-business. Eleazar Guevara co-founder of Novabori realized that the business model was too vertical, and there was a need to make it more horizontal and return to competitivity.
While analyzing this crisis he also realized that in Mexico, only 5% of total textile industry wastes are recycled, whereas in developed countries and more eco-friendly governments, such as Germany, 65% of the waste is recycled and utilized for new garments. This was an extraordinary opportunity to grow a new sustainable business.
Eleazar comes from a family with 60 years of experience in the recycled textile industry, he combined this with the market need of environmental-friendly products. Then he decided to increase recycled textile production in Tlaxcala, mainly with cotton and polyester waste, through a specialized technique developed by Wilfred Wirth, his partner. They started with neutral, dye-free and recycled garments and slowly moved into the “sustainable fashion industry” in 2014.
Eleazar’s father realized that in Tlaxcala there was already a textile recycling industry for “low quality” products and basic products, such as mops, kitchen clothes, and bedding textiles. Due to the market’s condition, the margins were reduced, and cheaper products were entering from other countries. Eleazar found that recycled textiles for the fashion industry was not explored in Mexico. “Quality development could be reached, but there are new market needs to be explored in Mexico”.
Novabori is selling their textiles with small boutique brands to start a “trend” within the Mexican market, also being more capable to listen their customers and get faster and more direct feedback about their products and letting the market understand the product and sustainability awareness.
Novabori collects the waste produced by cloth-makers in Tlaxcala, and PET bottles from local factories waste. Once the right recycling production conditions are reached, Novabori has been able to grow their recoverable rate from a global standard of 12%, where only 1% is used in fashion. With Novabori's innovative technique, they can produce clothes with 30% to 40% of recycled material, reducing the impact in the environment.
“Mexico produces 3 Kilos of textile waste per person, this is 360,000 tons of waste in Mexico per year and only 15 grams can be recovered," this is less than 1%. By implementing this technology in scale Novabori can avoid the impact of this 360,000 tons of waste in Mexico by reducing it to 216,000 - 252,000 tons, into clothes with re-used industrial textile products. (A decrease of 30 - 40% of waste).
Novabori is more than a business enterprise, it’s a mentor for other textile factories to help them produce clothes with better quality and profits.
The economic, social and cultural impacts that the Mexican economy experienced in the last years, had the fashion market trapped into a vicious circle. Novabori was in the perfect storm, where they began to create networks with other textile factories to find ways to do things in a different way and achieve innovation. This innovation led Novabori into a larger market, where they went from low value-added products to high value-added products, which allowed them to have higher sales and margins, high differentiation, and less competition. Novabori found a new way to do business: “the sustainable fashion way”. As Eleazar mentioned during the interview “When you talk about sustainable fashion, you are talking about a new conception of how to do business. I’m really happy with my clients because they understand when you are late… they are more empathetic; it is not a war of power, but a mutual support and finding ways to work together for a greater good”.
This new market for Novabori is global, where the main objective of the founders is to make it well known in the industry. In 2018, the company reported annual sales of ~MXN$ $900,000 pesos. Economic interest is a natural interest, but not the main goal for Novabori; what they want is a better planet and more opportunities for their region. “We want to contribute to the distribution of wealth and generating earnings from it”. As more enterprises include recycled textiles in their product offering, this cluster will continue growing, creating new jobs, opening new markets with products of better quality, and saving the planet.
The social benefit is linked to the creation of jobs and the distribution of wealth. Novabori detected that thousands of jobs in Tlaxcala were lost from 2003 to 2013, so they decided to start the business in this textile cluster and indirectly generate employment through different ways such as suppliers, textile factories, designers and distributors, generating savings in their production costs through the use of old machinery and the analysis to improve the molecular structure of its recycled to compete against virgin textiles. Today Novabori merges as a network among textile agents. When they have an order, the Company looks for small producers that can produce the requested fabric, and together with them, they produce it for later commercialization. Each small company that collaborates with Novabori puts in its machinery and knowledge, so that the results are increasingly better quality, reducing production costs and speeding up the textile industry.
The environmental benefit is related to the manufacture of sustainable fabrics with recycled materials and industrial wastes (PET, cotton, polyster and wool) with a quality very similar to those currently used in the fashion industry. The pieces are used to manufacture different styles of clothes; however, pieces such as towels, tablecloths, blankets or any other purpose have also been designed. With Novabori’s innovative technique, they can produce clothes with 30 to 40% of recycled material, reducing the impact in the environment.
Novabori’s impact goes beyond production. It is the way they do it and how they have instilled sustainable fashion in global companies. Nationwide, they have managed to make small brands adopt recycling and start putting it in the mind of the consumer. One example of what they have achieved in the textile industry is the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week of last April 2019, where the brand “Eilean” used 70% of our sustainable fabrics to create their collection. If one of the fanciest fashionista markets accepts the idea to produce designer clothes with recycled textiles, it can be easily replicated in the rest of the industry.
Eleazar Guevara, Interview with the co-founder of Novabori
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Chiautempan, Tlaxcala, MX
Business Website: https://www.novabori.com/
Year Founded: 2014
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Nobavori is a Mexican company founded in 2014 by Eleazar Guevara and Wilfried Wirth. Eleazar's family lives in Tlaxcala and has more than 60 years of experience in the textile industry, however Novabori entered the sustainable fashion industry 5 years ago. The company has focused on the co-creation of fabrics, blankets and other textile products. Over time they have been innovating their same processes to develop products that have a stronger impact, such as sustainable fashion.
Today, the company produces fashion fabrics with recycled PET, fibers of cotton, polyester and wool, and has created sustainable clothing like shirts, pants, bags, recycled towels, among others, under their own brand “Newcycles”.
The name “Novabori” started as a joke; it is the acronym of “Nos vamos a volver ricos” (We are going to get rich). Both founders have dedicated their life to the recycling business, and they found that the project “Novabori” was not only going to make them richer, but also the network they work with and the planet, was also going to become richer.