Up next in our Interview Series, we’re taking a deep dive into the story behind Kotn, a brand dedicated to providing conscious consumers with high-quality, elevated basics made from authentic Egyptian cotton.
Founded on a deep desire for affordable everyday wear, their mission in anchored in two equally important factors. First, a quality material – their signature fibre is grown in only one place in the world, Egypt’s Nile Delta, and is unparalleled in softness and breathability. Second, a minimalist supply chain model, self-described as “farm-to-table, but for your clothes”, which encourages a close relationship with their farming and operation workers and the community beyond. Additionally, Kotn maintains a close tie to their roots, with each purchase funding the build and operation of schools for their employees’ children.
We sat down with Kotn’s Brand Marketing Manager, Naomi Nachmani, to discuss Kotn’s transparent business model, the importance of the slow fashion movement, and her advice for sustainability scaling a business in the fashion industry. Interested in learning more about Naomi’s favorite ways to style Kotn’s signature piece and the jewelry staples she can’t live without? Check out the fashion-focused interview over on the Criscara blog.
I hope you enjoy learning more about their brand and their story. XO, Crista
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An Interview with Naomi Nachmani, Brand Marketing Manager of Kotn
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Tell us a bit about the Kotn brand. How did you get started? Is there any special meaning behind the name?
Kotn was born from a desire for good quality, simple essentials that didn’t cost a fortune. The three founders were living in New York at that time and were unable to find a well made, quality white T-shirt at an affordable price point, so they decided to create one. One of our Co-founders is Egyptian, and was in Egypt for a wedding around that time, and found out he had an uncle who was a cotton farmer, so he decided to move out to the Nile Delta, Egypt, and actually lived in the cotton farming communities for five months to learn the ins-and-outs of the industry before creating the brand.
The name Kotn is the phonetic translation of “cotton” in Egyptian Arabic.
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Educate us! Why is sustainability in the fashion industry is so important? In what ways does Kotn embody sustainability?
Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world and one of the most polluting. Over the last few decades, consumers have driven prices lower and lower, causing brands to create cheap products, with little to no traceability into how, by who, and the conditions in which these products were being made—both for the people involved and the environment. Fast-fashion, the process of buying trend-driven items at cheap prices, is also a huge issue, as the more clothing consumers purchase, the more clothing ends up in a land-fill, majority of it made from man-made fibres that can take up to 200 years to decompose.
Kotn focusses on wardrobe essentials, so the items in your closet that you can wear every day for years to come. Timeless silhouettes, well-made, and with every detail considered—from the person who grew the cotton to the chemical-free colourants used to dye the yarn, to the final product’s topstitch. From the beginning, it was important to our founders to know exactly who and what was involved at every step of the way, so we worked from the ground up, establishing direct-trade practices and cutting out the traditional retail middlemen. Starting by sourcing our raw cotton straight from the farmers in the Nile River Delta, we work directly with responsibly-run yarn mills, dye houses, and cut-and-sew facilities in the region, ensuring fair wages and treatment throughout our supply chain, better prices for our customers, and 100% transparency from farm to hanger.
One of the biggest takeaways from our team’s time in the farming communities, was the farmer’s need for quality, accessible education for their children. So we currently donate 1% of all in-store and online sales to building schools for the children of our cotton farmers, and over the past two Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekends, have donated 100% of sales, raising enough money to fund and support five schools, and so far building two.
Kotn focusses on wardrobe essentials, with every detail considered … From the beginning, it was important to our founders to know exactly who and what was involved at every step of the way.
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Tell us about the conscious consumer who loves Kotn. What are a few words that describe their style and vibe?
Luckily for us, our mission and product have resonated with an incredibly supportive customer base. Our customers appreciate quality and good design, but each one wears their pieces their own way. The great part about Kotn’s simplicity is that we might have our own brand aesthetic, but the pieces themselves can fit into anyone’s wardrobe, no matter their style.
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As part of a small business, do you have any advice for others looking to scale their brand?
I think it’s really important to not only aim to scale, but to be able to scale with integrity. Especially in fashion, it’s hard to continue to have control and transparency into every part of your supply chain as you grow your collection, so if that’s something that is important to you, you need to make sure you’re doing that from the very beginning and don’t lose sight of it as you grow. You can’t sustainably scale overnight. It takes a lot of time but it’s worth it to do it right.
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Tell us one thing that you consider vital in contributing to the success of your business.
Speaking from the marketing side, I think it’s important to always be true to your brand’s values and branding, and not just leap at every opportunity, but only the opportunities that are really a fit for your brand.
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We’d love to know – what’s coming up next for Kotn that you’re most excited about?
After a lot of testing, we’re launching into new fabric categories this fall! That’s exciting as it’ll allow us to create pieces we were unable to create using jersey material.
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Where can people find your products/learn more about you?
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Photo Credit: Kotn
Loved this interview? Head over to the Criscara blog for more on Kotn!