Entrepreneurs Flexing with the Times

Article by Jennifer Gibbs | Entrepreneurship News

Emily Neville ’20 is not letting a global pandemic stop the growth of her textiles company, Reborn Clothing Co. In fact, they are hiring.

When Neville graduated from NC State with a political science degree in December, she had no idea a global pandemic was around the corner. While a new virus had been detected in China, she thought Reborn would be protected because her company uses local textile manufacturers in North Carolina. This changed as quickly in the spring as the novel coronavirus spread throughout the world and a stay-at-home order was issued in North Carolina.

Despite the unprecedented circumstances, Reborn has been able to react quickly. Since Neville launched her business in the fall of 2017, Reborn has grown to 16 employees and is looking to bring on more sales representatives to take her licensed products to more universities across the country.

Transforming Garments Into New, Useful Items

After transforming thousands of surplus NC State branded apparel and promotional items into higher-value products, Reborn has expanded to work with other schools and companies through licensing agreements. Reborn keeps textile waste out of the landfill by designing and manufacturing accessories, totes and even dog beds. Neville has found that some universities now have more time to work on their licensing agreements. Just this week, Neville secured a licensing deal with Columbia University, Reborn’s 50th university partnership.

Young Entrepreneurs First Experience with a Slowing Economy

After successfully securing two rounds of funding, Neville has focused on setting realistic expectations as she enters her third round of funding. She has leaned on her network of mentors for advice, and sought advice from those who weathered the 2008 recession. One mentor, Bill Spruill of Global Data Consortium, recently said, “we can not think like an old oak tree that will break and fall during a storm but instead, like a bamboo tree that is flexible during a storm.” That message stuck with Neville and led her to be flexible.  

Flexing with the Times

Neville reflected that rather than being reactionary, she wants her brand to be a leader during these times and support the community. 

“Get creative, be understanding, and put people first during this time.” 

“We now have a contingency plan for our contingency plan,” said Neville. Some of the ways Reborn is flexing during this pandemic is partnering with other local brands, such as Fullsteam Brewery, Videri Chocolate, Counter Culture Coffee, Raleigh Denim, and Murphy’s Naturals. Neville is spearheading the Triangle Bundle Project, where North Carolinians can buy bundles of products to support local businesses.

In addition, Reborn is donating 15% of proceeds from each Reborn t-shirt to help their friends at the Carolina Textile District produce PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Neville recommends entrepreneurs and small business owners to get hyper-focused on their staff and customers.

This post was originally published in Entrepreneurship News.