Creating a valuable product out of waste material is the aim of Offcut Caps – a uniquely Kiwi business that makes caps from leftover and discarded fabric. The idea for Offcut came when co-founder Adrien Taylor was walking through his father’s Christchurch curtain business and came across a room of material destined for landfill because the pieces were too small to be used as curtains.
“I saw the beautiful floral fabrics, which I thought were ugly as curtains but would be good as caps,” he says.
“I had never made any caps before and, the funny thing is, I never even used to wear many caps before this,” Taylor says.
But the idea was a good one, as the panels used to make a cap are very small and can fit into odd shapes of offcut material.
“It was really just an idea to create value out of something that is needlessly classified as waste – it’s not waste, it can still be used.”
Taylor’s father gave him the fabric instead of having to pay to throw it away, and Taylor found an Auckland manufacturer to hand-make the caps.
With the help of friend Matt Purcell, Offcut was launched in December 2015 and has since sold about 400 caps.
About 95 percent were sold online through the business’ online store but some are sold through retail stores, including surf shop Sitka in Auckland and The Collective in Christchurch.
While the handmade caps are more expensive to make, and therefore buy, than those mass-produced in China or Bangladesh, Taylor believes people are willing to pay a premium for a 100 percent New Zealand-made, sustainable, unique product.
A case in point is the recent limited-edition caps made in collaboration with iconic Kiwi manufacturer Swanndri. The caps sold out within minutes, and Offcut is now working with Swanndri to do a release of caps with different fabric each season.
Offcut’s aim is to keep growing organically – with most of its marketing on social media promoting a sustainable, outdoors lifestyle. Photos of surf trips and skating are proving popular on Instagram, and the company is also making a few music videos with New Zealand artists.
But as well as growing Offcut, Taylor hopes to encourage other Kiwis to take on the challenge of creating something valuable from commercial waste.
“Hopefully it inspires people to think about the massive amounts of waste that we have in every industry. We can’t afford to keep living as wastefully as we are.”