During Marcus Schneider’s time as senior supply chain analyst at Nike, he was shocked by the amount of clothing sitting in distribution centers after being returned. All were destined for the landfill.
Schneider’s concerned with the environmental impact of a brand known for its sustainability practices grew as he realized other apparel companies were probably much worse. “The problem with waste isn’t a Nike problem — it’s an industry problem,” he says.
The average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of clothing and textiles annually, occupying nearly 5% of landfill space. Fashion production makes up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Even washing clothes can impact the environment, as thousands of microplastics from synthetic materials are sent into the ocean.
Since Schneider’s exposure to one of the clothing industry’s dark realities, he was determined to help the industry change. An MBA was in his future.
“I knew there had to be a way to create clothes people could feel great in and great about,” he tells Poets&Quants. “This is the idea I brought with me into business school.”
THE PULL TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Originally a material science engineering undergrad from Dartmouth College, Schneider worked at Deloitte Consulting after graduation before landing his gig at Nike.
As it does for many, working in corporate environments spurred him to explore entrepreneurship; he wanted to be a bigger part of a company’s decision-making process. Plus, after witnessing such exorbitant apparel waste, Schneider knew that he wanted to have the power to make changes.
Motivated to take action, he applied to the full-time MBA program at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and in 2018 began the journey that would eventually lead him to create a new sustainable clothing company, again&again.
STARTING A MOVEMENT, ONE PAIR OF JEANS AT A TIME
In his first month of studies in the entrepreneurship pathway at Kellogg, Schneider went to an Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club event to hear professor Paul Earle speak. It was an inspiring evening. Soon after, Schneider set up a coffee meeting with Earle and pitched his ideas on how he could help make Earle’s idea for a venture a reality.
Impressed by Schneider’s drive, Earle offered him a summer internship in generating concepts for new ventures. When Earle said that he wanted to create something in the apparel industry, Schneider responded, “I have just the idea for you.”
The idea was to create a sustainable, upcycled clothing company, and after some research, Earle and Schneider decided to tackle jeans, an everyday staple known for their environmental harm. The vision: Create a denim brand that is designed to never be thrown out. And again&again was born.
While there are a number of companies that are recycling polyester — including such major brands as Patagonia — Schneider explains that there aren’t many pushing forward with sustainable cotton.
“Since everyone wears jeans, there’s a lot of jeans in the world, and a lot of jeans then going to waste,” he says. “Plus, denim is made of cotton, which is water- and land-intensive. It takes upward of four thousand gallons of water to make a pair of jeans. Eventually, we will use more water than the world has in retail if the trends continue.”