Whitman Voices


Featured Alumni Entrepreneur: Kyle Barrett ’12

Featured Alumni Entrepreneur: Kyle Barrett ’12

Kylepicture in Bighorn ShirtUpon graduation, Kyle Barrett went right into commercial real estate brokerage. While working exclusively on industrial deals, he had great exposure to manufacturing businesses. Around this time, he started studying various manufacturing sectors and learning more and more about how harmful so many of these businesses are for both people and the planet.   Never far from mind was the dream of moving out west and starting a business of his own.

In early 2015, he moved to Denver, Colorado, to live closer to the mountains and start his own business. This is where his passion for the environment and sustainable business collided, and the idea for Bighorn Apparel was born. The apparel industry is notorious for its harmful effects on both the environment and the people involved in making the clothing: forced labor, child labor, factory injuries and death, heavy pesticide use, diseased farmers and mass water pollution are just a few of the headlines. The list goes on and on. All for clothes? He decided to start a company that would make the highest quality lifestyle clothing while minimizing this unnecessary social and environmental harm and help raise awareness of these issues.

Barrett focused on using the most environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes as well as working only with factories that hold the highest standards for treatment of their employees. Bighorn uses organic cotton, recycled polyester and hemp in its products in place of more traditional materials. Organic cotton is grown without the use of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers and without GMOs. Recycled polyester is all post-consumer waste plastic mostly from recycled water bottles. Hemp is an age-old plant that creates an amazing fiber and is easily grown in a very sustainable way, using less water, pesticides and land area than crops like conventional cotton. The bulk of production is done right in Colorado, which decreases Bighorn’s footprint even more.

After a year of learning and navigating the world of apparel, and with no previous experience in the category, Barrett launched the Bighorn Apparel website, wearbighorn.com, with a small line of products in late December 2015.

Bighorn Apparel is off to great start with big plans for the future! Bighorn is selling exclusively online but working to gain some traction through local pop-up events and retail around Denver. Barrett has managed to self-fund the entire business to this point and there are more products on the way with exciting new technology, such as t-shirts that are made from 100 percent recycled materials and are colored from the recycled material used to make them instead of the traditional dye processes that pollute large amounts of water. Barrett is very involved in the sustainable business movement and actively works to teach consumers about the importance of choosing responsible businesses and products.

To learn more about Bighorn and check out the products, visit wearbighorn.com or connect on Instagram @bighornapparel

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