Sure it was naive. Today I understand just how naive it was. Looking back 50 years, my father’s approach was hopelessly ahead of its time. Attempting to revolutionize the textile industry – by acknowledging a responsibility for the environment, the cotton farmers and the people working in the textile factories. But these values have shaped a business model that many others envy today. All because of his ’naive’ belief that we can make a difference.
This attitude has influenced me since I was a little kid running around in my dad’s factory. As a child, I observed my father. I saw the way he worked and how he treated people. I listened to his dreams and shared his struggle. To be honest, my father was never meant to work in the textile industry. As a young boy, he was sent to a confectionery school in Uppsala, Sweden, and was destined to take over the family business. But as always, he decided to go his own way.
Coming across an old knitting machine and a rundown fire station in Herning, he began to manufacture fabrics. He hardly knew anything about what he was doing but learned as he went along. My father searched all over for knowledge, innovations and new technologies to embrace in his new business. He soon realized that the more he learned, the more his hard work paid off. A true passion for knowledge was born. I understand now that my personal values, the way I view my life and how I define a good business, comes from my father.
I remember him talking about the difference between good and bad business, that it had nothing to do with profits. Already as a youngster I learned that a business without a purpose to do good, will never be a successful business. He taught me that quality takes time and that it is reflected in the product. I realized that with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to constantly develop and improve at what we do, we can actually make a difference.
I brought these insights with me when we started KnowledgeCotton Apparel in 2008. Unfortunately, no one truly understood what we were doing. Many shook their heads watching us – ‘seriously, organic men’s clothing…?!’ We really struggled. Most of all, we struggled with our self-confidence. But I hadn’t been taught to give up when things were hard. From day one I was surrounded with people who shared my dream. With people who are still by my side. I felt obligated to make it work and wanted to show everyone that we could pull this off together.
Over the years, the world has changed. More and more people are turning their backs on mass-produced, low-quality, low-priced goods. Consumer behavior is changing and values, such as sustainability and responsibility, are becoming requirements. The very same things we have been talking about for 50 years are suddenly on everyone’s lips. We are no longer alone in our quest. Perhaps we have been shaped by our Scandinavian heritage. By the proximity to nature, the harsh conditions, the struggle for survival.
Perhaps we carry with us an understanding of the need for balance. Of cooperation as a key element for success. Here at KnowledgeCotton Apparel we appreciate the importance of human aspects such as family, friendship and love. We truly believe in Scandinavian ideals of equality, justice and respect. Because we all share a common responsibility for the future. With dedication and a sometimes naive belief – we can change the world together.
// Mads Mørup, founder & CEO
The movement. The magic. The very idea of being part of something bigger – sharing a belief that we can change the world together. This is how we want to convey the vibrant spirit of 1969. A time when people came together to create something new. Something beautiful and shared, that often stood in stark contrast to the rigid ideas of the past.
We live, again, in a time of change. At a time when so much is at stake. But also, at a time when opportunities may never have been greater to bring about change. It’s a crucial moment, we need to search deep into our human souls.We may have to face the most difficult challenges for it to happen. Still, we clearly feel that there is something in the air. There is a movement. A will to take action. The need to believe in a new tomorrow. We can sense the magic vibes again, just like 50 years ago. Woodstock. The moon landing. Solidarity among humanity. The refreshing spirit of actually believing we can change the world together.
Looking in the rearview mirror, there is no coincidence that KnowledgeCotton Apparel was born out of the 1969 spirit. From the very beginning, the family business was characterized by a different way of thinking. A different way to relate to the industry, to the farmers, the producers, and the consumers. Fifty years of innovation have created a unique company spirit. A set of values based on respect, and a relentless desire to always move on, gain knowledge, develop new ideas and take our concepts further. It is in our DNA to lead the way. But also to help push the industry forward and to stand up for the belief that we can make a difference.
Is now the time when humanity again takes crucial leaps towards a better world? Is this the new spirit of ’69? We firmly believe it can be. And our 50 year heritage shows that we will do everything in our power to make it true.
// Mads Mørup, founder & CEO