Umano’s Business Model an Experiment in Social Entrepreneurialism
By Kayla Robbins
Umano is an innovative clothing company, founded by brothers Jonathan and Alex Torrey, but it’s not just a new fashion line. The brothers have made it their mission to empower children and inspire their creativity, both at home and abroad.
You see, all of Umano’s products feature artwork created by child artists. When you buy from Umano, you not only receive a lovingly crafted piece of clothing, complete with unique artwork, you also receive a photo and brief background of the child who helped create it for you. The Umano team believes that art education is one of the most important and tragically undervalued pillars of a child’s development. As more and more art programs across the United States are being defunded and dropped from the curriculum, Umano’s staff tirelessly works to reverse the trend. They give young artists the tools and platform to express their creativity because they believe that art education improves a child’s ability to collaborate with others, find creative solutions to problems, and express their ideas clearly. These are all skills we could use more of in future generations.
But they don’t just feature children’s artwork on their products. Umano puts their money where their mouth is and takes it one step further. Every time a product is purchased, Umano donates a backpack full of art supplies to a child in need. These backpacks include things like crayons, pencils, rulers, erasers, and notebooks, to give kids everything they need to express themselves artistically. They are distributed to children all over the world, from New York to Uganda. To date, the company has given away more than 10,000 of these backpacks.
All of this is made possible through the power of social entrepreneurship, a business philosophy that forgoes making the maximum possible profit in favor of giving back. Social entrepreneurs harness the power of their position and the support of their communities in order to solve a particular societal, cultural, or environmental problem. In this case, Umano is using the continued support of their customer base to solve the problem of children’s limited access to art education. Other companies run by social entrepreneurs include Warby Parker, an online eyeglasses company that follows a similar business model to Umano by giving away a free pair of glasses for every pair bought, Uncommon Goods, a store made up entirely of sustainable products made by artists and small manufacturers, and Lush, a bath and body products store with a commitment to the environment and opposing animal cruelty.
But this isn’t just a charity case. We’ve all been in a position of having to buy low quality or unnecessary products in order to support a cause we believe in (how much Boy Scout popcorn can one person really consume?), but Umano actually offers incredible products that anyone would be happy to own. Their clothing is made from their own unique modal fabric blend (sound familiar?) that produces an incredibly soft, irresistibly comfortable final product. They call it omobono. Modal, as we already know, is an extremely soft and luxurious fabric that is not only blissful on the skin, but friendly to the environment. It’s what makes our underwear so comfortable, and it’s what made omobono the perfect choice for Umano.
With the details of the perfect fabric finally ironed out, the design was one of the final pieces of the puzzle. Umano designers opted for a sleek, simple look that makes their products an instant classic in any wardrobe. Because of their timeless lines and effortless fit, Umano clothes provide staples you can wear day in and day out, and once you try them on, believe me, you’ll never want to change out of them again.