Green.org sat down with Steffen Kuehr, founder of TekTailor, to learn how they are making the manufacturing industry more sustainable.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I’m 48 years old, a father of three and originally from Germany where I was born and raised. I have a background in marketing, worked for T-Mobile for over a decade and had my own web2.0 travel start-up before joining my in-laws’ sewing manufacturing business in 2010. I love traveling, languages, new cultures, meeting people and exploring the world on my motorcycles. I left Germany in 2000 and lived in London and Vienna, took a year off to backpack around Central and South America and moved to the US in 2007. In 2015 I took over the family sewing operation and started my own business TekTailor, Inc. with the goal to make to make the sewing and textile business more sustainable. I incorporated the business as a legal Benefit Corporation and became a certified Green Business. We launched our product line of upcycled products made from banners, billboards and decommissioned fire hose with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016.
What would you do with $1 Billion dollars?
– Give my business the cash infusion it needs to scale it and take it to the next level.
– Take a proper long family vacation – something we haven’t done in years
– Buy land to protect it and make it accessible for people to camp on and enjoy nature
– Set our TekTailor RESHAPE initiative up as a separate non-profit to fund projects that help improve the quality of life of members in our local community and also supports broader causes of social and environmental justice.
– Build out TekTailor RERIDE – devoted to my passion of rescuing old motorcycles and other fun vehicles from decaying in backyards, barns and scrapyards.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
Because we are knee deep – if not deeper – in a climate and environmental crisis that takes all our attention NOW. It’s probably too late already for a complete turnaround from the impact of a warming planet but it’s not too late yet to mitigate, prepare and reduce the impact as much as we can. In this mission we are focused on working with individuals and businesses to rethink waste and rethink the way we treat used materials. Reduce, Reuse, Repair – buy less new stuff, buy products made from repurposed materials, repair more.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
My hope is that we manage to prioritize Reuse & Right to Repair and that Cities, Counties, States and the Federal Government help provide the infrastructure and funding like they did for the Recycling industry to make waste diversion and rethinking consumer behavior around used materials a much higher priority than it currently is. We need to educate the young generation to use their hands again, not just for coding software and writing apps, but to build things from scratch and repair products!
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Consider what you buy, how it was made, where it was made. Buy less, but maybe spend a little more for a quality product that’s going to last longer – and ideally was made local! Support your local makers and manufacturers, learn how to fix things.