What does a dash of denim, a self-proclaimed jeans lover and little bit of thrifty inspiration create? Francine Rabinovich's Denim Therapy. She founded the company back in 2008 when she saw her own difficulty in parting ways with a pair of much adored jeans and saw the need for an eco-savvy repair service. With it, she's proved that a little stitching, mending and patching up of beat up blue jeans goes a long way for both the world and its jean junkies. Thanks to Denim Therapy, the planet doesn't have to over-populate its landfills with trashed trousers and folks don't have to part ways with their favorite pair of pants.
But Francine's jean-lover's dream business didn't actualize overnight. She graduated Cum Laude from Tufts University with a degree in Economics and International Relations and started off climbing the ranks in New York City's top advertising agencies working for Revlon, Palmolive, and Speed Stick.
How did you get into this line of work?
I tore a favorite pair of jeans that I wasn't ready to part ways with. I knew I could have a patch sewn in, but that changed the look and feel of my jeans so I decided to find the solution that would make the jeans look almost as good as new.
What was your "a-ha" moment?
Realizing that almost every person out there has a pair of jeans they love and are not ready to part ways with is pretty telling and interesting. Despite all of our consumerism, we tend to form an emotion bond with never-out-of-style staples such as jeans. They certainly help you relive special moments--perhaps it was the pair you wore when you met your husband, or those jeans that help you relive your college glory days. When I initially launched the business, I didn't realize my passion for denim was shared by so many. Two weeks after we shared the website with friends and family we got amazing press coverage and lots of jeans that finally got some much-needed TLC.
Who is your green hero?
I think everyone has the opportunity to be a green hero. Like I said before, it's not about being perfect; it's doing what you can every day.
What is your ultimate green goal?
Denim Therapy is the small thing that I'm contributing to our earth and dwindling resources and space. With some string and creativity, we've been able to salvage thousands of jeans.
What is your motivation?
I feel inspired everyday knowing that we're not only an eco-friendly company making good, but also reuniting our customers with memories--and allowing them to create more!
What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
At Denim Therapy we understand that repairing your torn denim at our headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, even if you're on the other side of the country, creates less of an environmental impact than purchasing a new pair, which is likely exported from China. Certainly a huge draw for environmental enthusiasts is to consider repair over a new purchase. Besides, why not sport those sexy jeans a while longer instead of having them take up space in a landfill?
What is the most challenging part of your job?
As the business grows, making sure each and every customer experiences the same level of service.
What is the most rewarding?
Reuniting our clients with their favorite pair of jeans and hearing all the stories that go along with them. For instance, a mom who had lost her son and had been wearing his jeans sent them over to be repaired. We were so happy to be able to help her keep the memory of her son near. A woman also recently sent in her husband's "lucky" jeans from college--which were incredibly destroyed--so he'd be able to wear them while taking the state Bar.
Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
Definitely mothers. It is very hard to be a good mother and a good professional but I have been lucky enough to have worked and known moms who have managed to be great in both.
What green thing do you do every day?
What do you wish you could do?
Spread equality and opportunity.
What is your biggest eco-sin?
Diapers for my babies. I just can't do cloth diapers, unfortunately.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
End child abuse.
What is your best green advice?
Do whatever you can, but do something, whether it's driving a hybrid, bringing your own reusable bag to the grocery store or supporting companies that are eco-friendly or offer minimal packaging. Becoming discouraged because you aren't eco-perfect may only work against you; recognize that every little bit helps.
Change Makers is a series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.
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