At the start of 2021, husband and wife made the decision to launch a new Salford eco-clothing brand which captures their love of the great outdoors and a passion for design.
Abby and Matt Cassady, former students at the University of Salford, came up with the concept for Orior Apparel during the pandemic when Abby graduated from her Masters and found out she couldn’t return to her job while the staff was on furlough.
The eco-clothing brand, Orior Apparel, features hoodies, t-shirts sweatshirts, and more distinctive designs all made from organic cotton or recycled materials and are certified Vegan and Fair Wear.
Where did the idea for Orior Apparel come from?
Matt had an idea to start planting trees and inspire other people to do the same. Originally it was just going to be a hobby with our daughter’s and a Facebook group. During lockdown Abby started drawing a lot to keep her creativity going and one day Matt said ‘that would look great on a T-shirt’.
We were up in the Lake District with no internet or phone signal and started brainstorming and the idea of combining selling t-shirts and planting trees came about. We decided we could make a business from it and both agreed we wanted to make it as sustainable as we could.
How were you able to fund your company?
From the moment we realized we had an idea when we were up in the lakes, we couldn’t wait to get home and start researching. We spent every day for several months putting together a business plan and funding model, like most start-ups we had to keep the initial costs low. Therefore, we came up with the strategy of printing on demand rather than buying bulk stock of our designs.
The printing equipment was a combination of some self-funding but also lots of research into grants and funds we could use. Eventually we applied for a government backed start-up loan which took a few weeks to approve with a business advisor.
What’s the process like of creating some of the pieces for Orior Apparel?
It all starts with a design concept, then Abby either sketches it out by hand or starts them in Photoshop / Illustrator. After this a sample can be printed which involves pre-treating the item and then using our direct to garment printer and water-based inks the items are essentially dyed. The final step is to heat press the item which cures the inks. If this turns out successfully, we then upload the product to our website and social media.
We also decided early on we wanted to involve other Salford Students now and in the future and lucky we know some amazing Salford Architects students and Alumni who are great at design. So, they come up with a collection which we review and then upload to the website and market. We pay them a commission on any of the designs we sell. We plan to keep coming along to the Salford end of year shows and hopefully offering some more Salford students the opportunity to design for us.
What steps did you take to make the brand sustainable – and where did the idea of planting trees come from?
We have been trying to move to a more sustainable lifestyle over the past few years. The idea to plant trees to offset the carbon of the T-shirts came from Matt’s original plan to just plant trees to reduce our own carbon footprint.
Planting trees is one of the most effective ways to do this as they not only reduce carbon in the atmosphere but more importantly store it too. We wanted the company to be carbon neutral and eventually become certified as carbon positive meaning we reduce more carbon than we use. We currently donate to the Eden Reforestation project to plant trees on our behalf. However, we are in talks with some more local projects to plant trees around Manchester and Salford.
We not only wanted products that were good for our environment, such as organic but it was also really important to us to ensure our products were socially sustainable. Therefore, we only buy items that are certified Fair Wear. This means that not only are all the staff in the factory paid a fair living wage, but also have a range of other benefits that we take for granted in the UK.
Our printing process also means we can use water based Vegan inks and all the garments are certified Vegan too. We also only use renewable energy to power our print studio. We have plans for the future to close the circular economy and offer the opportunity for customers to send us their clothes they are finished with so they can be recycled into new garments.
Salford residents and students are free to use SalfordUni15 at checkout for 15% off the whole website, where you can find out more information about their goal in providing eco-friendly fashion.