Nooboo has reinvented the use of bamboo by making clothing out of it. The company's name originates from combining two syllables: the ‘noo’ standing for new, and ‘boo’ coming from the word bamboo. There is also meaning behind the phrase ‘new bamboo’ as when bamboo is cut correctly, it grows back from the same stem, thus creating new bamboo.
The company implements sustainability throughout its entire supply chain, from its use of bamboo to the fair wages it pays all its employees and to the use of biodegradable packaging. Nooboo mainly contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals: ‘decent work and economic growth,’ ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure,’ and ‘responsible consumption and production.’
Nooboo is a flourishing business on a mission to leave the world cooler, cleaner, and fairer than they found it. They have established a profitable business while simultaneously creating benefits for society and the environment, thus bringing about mutual gain. The company’s product range consists of clothing exclusively made of bamboo. Even though this is already very innovative, Nooboo distinguishes itself by dying its clothing with all-natural materials. This way, the company can exclude chemicals from its production process entirely.
Evelyne De Donder
Beyond bamboo growing remarkably fast and being a very sustainable material to use, Nooboo still needed a clear vision, a solid mindset, and determination to make their idea a success. These qualities are precisely what Amar, the founder, and owner of Nooboo, drew upon. Through his storytelling, Amar reached out to people using his own experiences to make others consider becoming more sustainable in their production and manufacturing processes. Products these days can be more than just functional, and he has helped more people realize this.
Besides the fact that bamboo grows extraordinarily fast -- at a rate of 1 millimeter per minute -- and is a very sustainable material, bamboo has many other features that made Amar decide to use it to make Nooboo's clothes. For example, bamboo only needs rainwater to grow, which means that Nooboo uses about 70% less water per shirt than shirts made out of cotton. Furthermore, bamboo doesn't need to be sprayed with pesticides and is completely biodegradable. In addition, the use of bamboo in clothing also has some advantages for customers. It makes for a very absorbent fabric, which is ideal for sports and physical activity. Moreover, it is very soft and is an ideal fabric for people who suffer from allergies.
The suppliers of bamboo also play an essential role in the sustainability of Nooboo’s products. Nooboo works with Bali's local population to make sure that the bamboo it uses grows sustainably, using only rainwater and no pesticides. Moreover, fair trade is also vital; it needs to get the right price for its products. The use of bamboo is not the only thing that makes Nooboo's clothing, so innovative as the company also uses natural products to dye its fabric instead of chemical coloring. For example, Nooboo uses the leaves from mangos to dye its clothes.
Nooboo’s business owner Amar De Winter had always wanted to found a company. He loves traveling and considered the idea of bamboo clothing when he was visiting Indonesia. Being surrounded by bamboo, he got to thinking about ways to use the material. He found it to be the ideal fabric to make clothes from due to its absorbent nature and other features. He contacted his partner Frank Toonen in the Netherlands, and together they created their first bamboo t-shirts. They produced a pallet of clothes and shipped them off to Rotterdam to sell online in their webshop. They originally started with t-shirts for men in four colors. “We noticed that the sales were outstanding. Our target audience was mostly men who bought three-packs or six-packs because they found it very easy to buy bamboo t-shirts online. Men want everything online and as easy as possible.”, said Amar. This was the beginning of Nooboo.
Amar is very enthusiastic about his company and its mission, which is one of the many reasons he's a notable leader. Multiple aspects contribute to Amar’s extraordinary leadership, among which is that he has a strong vision for his company's future. Amar inspires people to embrace sustainability; therefore, Amar is a flourishing individual. With this enthusiasm and perseverance in mind, Amar has created a flourishing enterprise.
Because sustainability is important to Amar, it was also important to find a tailor who was passionate about it too. As is evident, Amar attaches great importance to sustainability and hopes to inspire others to pursue more sustainable options within their businesses. He hopes to do so by using his own experiences and telling his story, his goal being: “We want to let the ‘mainstream’ think about sustainability, […] though it is not my intention to lecture everyone.”
Nooboo's customers consciously choose sustainable, ethically made clothing. Both because bamboo clothing is exceptionally comfortable and because more and more people are concerned with sustainability. Nooboo has noticed that the market segment of people ages 35 and up attaches more importance to sustainable production than other age groups. According to Amar, there is a clear reason behind this: think, for example, of a mother who wants to leave behind a better world for her child and therefore thinks more about the future and is more concerned with sustainability in the long term than someone who is in a very different phase of his/her life.
Nooboo is the perfect example of a sustainable, flourishing business. Since its inception, Nooboo has been pursuing several SDGs. The company’s vision is clear: to do well in sustainability and pay their employees fair wages. Nooboo does not support or participate in fast fashion, as “[o]ften there is a lot of misery on the other side of a cheaper t-shirt,” explained Amar. However, sustainable production often comes with a lot of extra costs. So, for Amar, it comes down to making the best possible product, in the most sustainable way possible, for the most reasonable price that is feasible for both customers and employees. Sustainable production is therefore difficult, but in the end, it is more than worth it.
Nooboo has grown a lot in recent years because it produces sustainably. Nowadays, people place a much greater emphasis on sustainability and are willing to pay more for sustainable products like Nooboos'. Of course, the sustainable aspect is not enough on its own; products must also be functional and of good quality. In addition, a product should not only look good, but there must also be a differentiating factor that sets these products apart from similar ones. For example, the Netherlands’ sustainable market is already well developed and therefore very competitive, making it much more important to differentiate one’s brand from existing brands. As Amar said, “[y]ou need to have a good story, with sustainability only you do not get there.”
Nooboo deliberately opted for a slightly more expensive price range for its products to pay its employees a fair wage. By doing so, the company supports its employees and their families, making it possible for its employees to put food on the table and live a higher quality of life. Therefore, all of Nooboo's products are made with love.
Nooboo's story has attracted multiple investors in recent years. In the future, the company's aim is to expand into Japan, enter new markets, and produce new products (e.g., blankets, ... home range).
Nooboo's two pillars are sustainability and fair trade. The first aspect is achieved in many ways; the mere fact that they use bamboo makes their clothing 100% biodegradable, contributing to minimizing waste. Additionally, bamboo has numerous practical and beneficial features, such as solely needing sunlight and rainwater to grow. Because of these features, Nooboo does not need to use pesticides, which benefits the environment. Since they only use rainwater, they save 70% more water per shirt versus those made of cotton. Furthermore, by using natural sources to dye its clothing, Nooboo eliminates chemicals from the production process. Moreover, Nooboo also ships their products in recycled and plastic-free packaging, reducing the company's ecological footprint.
As Amar himself has said: “Everything is love, and so is sustainability.” During our interview, Amar showed us how important fair wages are to him. He makes sure everyone gets paid a fair amount and inspires his employees to carry out their work with passion and determination. By doing so, Nooboo achieves fair trade and contributes to Bali's development since the bamboo-plantations are owned and run by locals. And ultimately, this contributes to the degree of quality of the clothing.
Even though Nooboo has explored various ways to be sustainable, the company is still eager to explore new ways to do good. By working with the Plastic Soup Foundation, Nooboo was able to participate in an initiative to clean up the oceans. Every new donor received a Nooboo shirt with a specially made design. This goes to show Nooboo's commitment to sustainability and its desire to expand its horizons.
Amar De Winter, CEO
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Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, NL
Business Website: http://nooboo.co/
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Nooboo, founded by Amar De Winter, is a three-year-old company that focuses on clothing made solely out of bamboo. It distinguishes itself through its use of 100% natural materials, and not only do the clothes look good, but they also feel great. Nooboo is on a mission to leave the world cooler, cleaner, and fairer than they found it. To achieve this purpose, they rely on their two main pillars, sustainability, and fair trade.