In 2015, with a desire to protect wildlife for future generations, entrepreneur Andreas von der Goltz founded ARKWEAR, a line of premium polo shirts whose logo embroidery highlights a philanthropic purpose. As a child, von der Goltz learned the importance of conversation efforts through his family’s environmental endeavors working at the Rainforest Aerial Tram in Costa Rica as well as from working at the Franklin Park Zoo as a volunteer in Boston, Massachusetts. This passion for helping animals led von der Goltz to launch Arkwear in 2015 with the goal of bringing awareness to the Wildlife Conservation Society by contributing five perent of all ARKWEAR sales to the organization to protect vulnerable species. In 2017, von der Goltz debuted his second collection featuring four threatened animal species - Grauer’s Gorilla, Sperm Whale, Sumatran Tiger and Western Bumble Bee. Von der Goltz currently resides in New York City with his wife and when not working can be found exploring the city’s restaurant scene.
How did you get into the industry?
I always had a passion for animals and Polo shirts. Given what the market had to offer, I thought it would be unique to partner with a reputable wildlife non for profit organization such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and give 5% of my sales to help save animals while offering a product that is a better fit and quality.
I have also been fortunate enough to have been raised by my parents to appreciate the environment and at one point worked as a research assistant to help study rats species living in the Rainforest Canopy and helped build the Rainforest Aerial Tram in Costa Rica.
Any emerging industry trends?
I would say that there is definitely a cool factor involved for products that consumers love that are special or unique and they will always buy it. In Arkwear’s particular case, I like to think we offer a polo shirt with 4 new animals added to the collection every year and it gives the consumer a choice as what they would like to wear giving a classic product a fresh look and feel.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The fashion markets are definitely evolving. More people are shopping online and less at brick and mortar stores. This being said, as a relatively new brand such as myself, it is important to be in brick and mortar stores to gain awareness in the marketplace. Also for the brands that produce internationally it will be interesting to see if the trade agreements change between countries and make international production more costly.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
My passion for animals and to create a brand that gives back. When I see brands such as TOMS and Threads for Thought, it gives the consumer pleasure to know your purchase is giving back to the environment or community in some form and manner. My wish would be to become known as offering the most comfortable and fun polo shirt the markets have to offer while making an impact on saving animals and building awareness about the preservation of nature.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
I can forsee myself offering hats and perhaps a children’s line and a soft t-shirt in collaboration with a well known artist with the emphasis on animals.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
For a business to be successful, you need to focus on 3 things: social media awareness, public relations, and online advertising through SEO and SEM. One needs the combination of these 3 factors to be successful and there is a constant change as to whom one works with based on performance and ability to help your brand awareness and ultimately sales.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Creating brand awareness had been the most challenging and it takes time to build a brand and for retailers to have confidence in taking a risk on a new brand. I am very excited to have launched this spring 2017 in Bloomingdales as a start.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
I believe every customer who buys an Arkwear polo shirt will recognize the incredible softness of the fabric which feels like wearing butter, while at the same time have a social consciousness that they are doing something good through their purchase by helping to save animals.
How do you motivate others?
I am a fun person to work with. I think anyone that has a business relationship with me enjoys my company and I love working with people who are creatively talented and have a passion for what they do. I merit a company’s success based on having a great product and working with passionate and intelligent people. As a final note it also feels good to constantly donate money to an organization that focuses on saving animals and you feel that you have done some good.
Career advice to those in your industry?
I never knew anything about the fashion industry and I did this purely based on an idea I had and my passion for saving wildlife. I think anything is achievable with hard work and a bit of luck. One thing is for sure if you are not passionate about your work or your idea, you should probably change career paths.