(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
One Dudley Square business is trying to bring jobs back to the United States, one old t-shirt at a time.
Project Repat, formed in early 2012 by Ross Lohr, 27, and Nathan Rothstein, 28, takes old, forgotten t-shirts and turns them into stylish and sustainable bags, blankets, and scarves.
“We’re trying to turn all the excess, all the t-shirts people have sitting in their drawers, into fair-wage jobs in the U.S.,” said Rohstein, the president of the company.
Customers mail their old t-shirts, some with nostalgic value, to the two entrepreneurs who organize them and then contract the work out to textile businesses based in Massachusetts and elsewhere around the United States.
Rothstein said the company has created over 8,000 hours of work since its inception, at businesses like Precision Sportswear in Fall River.
“The number one thing is we’re offering the customers something they want and the social message is integrated into the process,” Rothstein explained. “It allows people to turn in stuff that is sitting in their drawers that they have memories associated with, into an amazing product and that products also stands for something they can believe in.”
Apart from the snazzy scarves, the cozy blankets, and the fair-wage jobs, Rothstein said the recycling aspect of the business is important, cutting down on the number of t-shirts, 7,500 according to Rothstein, that find their way into the country’s landfills.
“It’s serving two purposes. For some the environmental aspect speaks to them and for some the fair-wage work speaks to them, but in the end unless we provide them something they wanted that social mission doesn’t matter,” said Rothstein.
With close to 3,000 blankets and 500 bags sold so far and their mail-in kits about to be sold at Whole Foods and Nordstrom, business is picking up for the college buddies.
“We’re going to hopefully do $250,000 in year one, so we’re going to start hiring and getting this to many more people, we think it’s a great gift item for 2012,” added Rothstein.