In an effort to increase garment sustainability through innovation, The Levi Strauss Company announced the first class of LS&Co. Collaboratory fellows. According to Levi’s official blog, Unzipped, these 10 next-generation apparel leaders are making an outsized impact on their communities. We couldn’t be more proud that our own COO, Kevin McCraken, was inducted into this exclusive group. Kevin joined fellow thought leaders for a weekend at the Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters, which included an exclusive workshop to expand their commitment to sustainable practices and reducing water impact.
Kevin McCracken, co-founder of Social Imprints, a full-service merchandising company that employs at-risk populations.
Please see below for a full transcript of Kevin’s interview with Levi Strauss & Co.
Tell us about your business and the work you do.
Social Imprints is a full-service merchandise branding company headquartered in San Francisco. We create merchandise programs for many of the most innovative and successful companies in the tech industry. The company was started by myself and Jeff Sheinbein to offer the highest quality promotional items as well as hire individuals who need a second chance and train them to become industry experts. As Jeff recalled, “We wanted to create a different kind of printing company, one that would offer high-quality promotional products and outstanding customer service while also providing maximum social returns to the community.”
Currently, Social Imprints employs 30 full-time employees with 90 percent coming from at-risk backgrounds. Two years ago Social Imprints opened a state-of-the-art screen-printing production facility that is considered one of the most environmentally friendly in the industry.
What does it mean to you to create a more socially and environmentally responsible apparel industry?
Social Imprints is proud to join this collaborative and work towards a more environmentally responsible apparel industry. It is the next step in both our development as a company and as a member of this industry. As a leader in social enterprise, we take our responsibilities as a company seriously, and could not be happier to join similar thought leaders on this endeavor.
How important is water to what you do?
Water is key to our production process. We use it in the most important parts of our process, creating screens. Developing and reclaiming screens can require up to four gallons of water each. As a company that does a high volume of screen production, we want to change this. We work to train our screen makers to use the least amount water to reach the desired results. This is of utmost importance to us as an organization, as we want to not only do good work in our community but be great global citizens by using as few of the world’s precious resources as possible.
What do you hope to get out of participating in the LS&Co. Collaboratory?
It is key for our company to reflect our values, and the needs of the community where we do business. The fact that California has had an ongoing drought, reducing water use in our production process is a huge step in meeting both of those goals. I hope to receive great feedback on how we can continue to create the best products with less water use. It is important that we also be able to listen to others interested in the same goals. I can’t wait to meet the other participants and my mentor, and hear what they have to offer the discussion. We hope to find solutions that make sense for our Social Imprints.
What’s your Levi’s® story?
I have lived in Northern California my whole life, and San Francisco for the past 20 years. I have always worn Levi’s® clothing. Living here, Levi’s® is everywhere, and they have been great community partners for many businesses and nonprofit organizations in our city. When I was selected to participate in the Collaboratory, I got more than a little excited. Levi’s® represents quality and has been part of my entire life as a clothing brand. I can’t wait to get to work!