Interviews

Published on May 27th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Awoke N’ Aware’s Kelly Saltzman On Launching A Sustainable Fashion Company, Goals & More

About a year ago, Kelly Saltzman and Cory Yefet co-founded a sustainable fashion company named Awoke N’ Aware. After working long days at their 9-to-5’s, Saltzman and Yefet — also a couple beyond their professional alliance — both come home to their cramped Liberty Village condo to dedicate every ounce of their free time and money to develop their growing clothing brand. A brand that aims to ultimately make a major impact on the global environment and save currently-endangered wildlife.

Simply put, Awoke N’ Aware creates staple pieces with a purpose. The brand donates 15 percent of its profits to wildlife conservations that they have partnered with. They create their products sustainably and ethically; for example, their hoodies are made with 8 recycled plastic bottles in an ethical facility. I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Kelly Saltzman about Awoke N’ Aware — which can be visited online at www.awokenaware.com — and its past, present and future.

You and Cory started up the brand. Had you two ever worked on anything together before in a professional sense before launching the brand?

Kelly Saltzman: Nope, this is our first business venture together. We knew we’d be great partners. We have very complementary skills and different backgrounds/experiences. Every day we learn how to work together in a better and stronger way and we’re constantly helping each other grow. It’s our first time working together professionally, but honestly, it just feels right.

How would you describe Awoke N’ Aware to someone not yet familiar?

Kelly Saltzman: Awoke N’ Aware is a lifestyle apparel brand with a purpose to better the planet. We started with a mission to save wildlife by partnering with conservations and donating 15% of each piece sold to help save vulnerable animals. We also manufacture everything sustainably & ethically. For example, our hoodies have 8 plastic bottles recycled into them and any cotton we use is 100 percent certified organic. Even our packaging is sustainable and ethical. For example, our hangtags are plantable and will grow flowers!

What is a typical day for you like work-wise?

Kelly Saltzman: Monday to Friday I start my day with a workout and then off to my full-time job. I carpool to work with a colleague; I work in marketing strategy at a CPG. Cory heads downtown to his work; he is in sales and CS in the tech world. We’re typically home by around 7. Whoever is home first will toss some ingredients together for dinner. By 7:15, we’re eating dinner at our computers and working on our next move for Awoke N’ Aware, working on our consumer journey, Facebook ads, creative content, product development, email marketing, finances, etc.

Awoke N’ Aware is a very charity-oriented brand. When in the creation process did you know that you would be so charity-oriented?

Kelly Saltzman: In the same breath that we knew it was going to be an apparel brand we knew we would be giving back to wildlife. We developed the concept knowing that we were both passionate about changing the state of wildlife and knowing the horrors of the fashion industry. We knew that there was a gap in the market between apparel we actually want to wear and what was made in a way that didn’t harm the planet. That is the shift we want to make in the market.

Do you have a favorite item from the current collection?

Kelly Saltzman: We both live in our organic cotton t-shirts. I love the polar bear tee; being Canadian, I love that we’re helping the Canadian Polar Bears. By day Cory is in his Rhino tee, he loves the look of the logo, and has real heart for Ol Pejeta, the conservation we donate to. By night, Cory layers the hoodie. He’s obsessed with the fact that there are 8 plastic bottles recycled into the material. He literally tells everyone — and everyone loves it!

I understand that you have some limited-edition shirts coming up next month. Can you tell me more about that?

Kelly Saltzman: Absolutely! We have about 45 individually hand tie-dyed t-shirts. They are made of 100 percent certified organic cotton with cruelty-free, non-toxic dyes. Since each piece is hand-dyed, no shirt is the same. We had a lot of requests for these and a lot of energy went into the process. We’re so excited to finally release them!

Limited-edition shirts aside, what is coming up for the brand?

Kelly Saltzman: We have a goal to donate $50,000 to our wildlife conservation partners. To accomplish this goal, we will need to expand our product offering, use new innovative fabrics and see consumers purchase attitude shift to have the planet in mind! We can’t wait to continue and to share our journey.

When not busy with Awoke N’ Aware, how do you like to spend your free time?

Kelly Saltzman: As Cory and I launched Awoke N’ Aware, we knew we wouldn’t have much free time — ESPECIALLY since we both have full-time jobs. We decided to pick a few priorities… if we’re not 100 percent zoned into ANA, we’re probably at our either Cor’s parent’s or mine to spend time with the fams — although we still always have our laptops out doing work — and on occasion, we’ll squeeze in a game of squash. This summer we’re hoping to get in a few camping trips and a hike here and there!

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Kelly Saltzman: Every year we go to Dave Matthews — our favorite — but I think the last was Dispatch.

Finally, Kelly, any last words for the kids?

Kelly Saltzman: It’s really easy to give a f**k. Awoke N’ Aware is trying to make it easy to make more eco-friendly choices through offering sustainably & ethical clothing that gives back. But there are so many ways to better the planet! You don’t need to change your entire life to care about sustainability. Start with little choices — you’ll still have a very big impact.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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