Natalie Chanin & Enrico Marone-Cinzano
Description: Clothing company that largely uses recycled materials
Start-up: 2000 for $20,000
Sales: projecting $1.5 million in 2003
Helping Hands: Heading to a party one night, Chanin handsewed a T-shirt and was hooked. With a costume design and fashion stylist background, Chanin joined forces with co-founder Marone-Cinzano, a businessman with experience in finance and marketing. She was unable to find a manufacturer in New York to do the handwork--her collection's resemblance to quilting inspired Chanin to return to her native Alabama and find "quilting circles" that could lend a hand (she now lives in both New York and Alabama, but spends most of her time in Alabama).
Recycled Goods: Project Alabama's growth necessitates branching out to include new materials, but the core of the collection is made from recycled cotton jersey T-shirts. Retailing for $250 to $4,000, their target has always been high-end. "We made a conscious effort to contact those type of stores," explains Chanin. "Luckily, we had some of the world's best stores buy from the beginning, like Barneys New York and Browns in London."
Supplies Needed: "Project Alabama consists of two components: the use of recycled materials and the quality of handwork," says Chanin, speaking proudly of the 120 women who subcontract stitchwork. "The kind of pride they have in each and every piece is rare."