How A Business Card Can Make A Difference And Start A Conversation

Can business cards clean up the fashion industry’s dirty habits?

MOO founder and CEO Richard Moross built a printing business starting with less than $1M in sales to now over $100M. This summer, they’re launching one of their most innovative products -- a business card made out of scraps of cotton t-shirts. So far, they’re the only printing company taking fabric scraps, the excess cuttings from manufacturing t-shirts, and turning them into cards.

“While a few other companies offer cotton business cards, these are the first and only business cards made entirely from t-shirt offcuts,” Moross says. “MOO’s cotton paper is created by taking the remaining cotton when a t-shirt pattern is cut from a roll of fabric, something that would otherwise would have been discarded.”

It’s no small problem. About 13 million tons of textile waste is thrown away each year, produced by the garment industry. And the speed of fast fashion-- its quick turnaround seasons and mass quantities-- is making the problem even harder to solve.

Moross started the company over a decade ago in East London, historically where the printing industry was situated; he was keen to take on a highly fragmented $1 trillion print industry. “Initially we had a narrower focus but our goal has broadened to bring design-led thinking and disruptive technology,” to this industry, he says.

Last year, when the company was looking at new paper options, Moross was keen on focusing on recycled materials. “Cotton paper,” he explains, is one of the oldest forms of paper manufacturing. That became less common though as wood pulp, which is cheaper and can be produced in larger quantities, grew in popularity. Cotton was relegated to premium products and currency bills, not mass market printing jobs.

To come up with a material that worked, and was affordable enough, MOO worked with Mohawk Fine Papers, a fourth-generation family owned paper mill in the US, which sources 100 percent of its electricity from renewable wind power and aspires to be carbon neutral.

Chris Harrold, VP Creative Director of Mohawk Fine Papers, says, “I’m so excited about this project because we take a common material, t-shirt scraps, something we all know, something that children know, and repurposing that fiber and making paper out of it. It’s like obvious and super crazy at the same time.”

Moross refers to himself as a “paper nerd,” jokingly. “MOO was born out of a desire to make real things, so we take our materials very seriously,” he says.

In a time when everything was transitioning to digital, Moross was adamant that real tangible products would still matter. Turns out he was right.  As MOO has grown, attracting a crowd of design-loving customers, he’s raised $14 million in investment capital to move the company from its East London roots to the US and multiplied its value repeatedly.

The cotton cards start at $26.99 for 50 cards. They’re not cheap, but they’re an inventive way of turning trash into something usable.  And the story, he says, is what consumers are looking for these days -- going beyond just a beautiful product. So could this business card a real conversation starter?