THESE BAGS WILL BE HUUUUGGEFEBRUARY 25, 2015
One day after peeling 8 ridiculously large plastic wrappers off dry-cleaned clothes and tossing them into the garbage before my kids played dress up with the debris (a pile of plastic is way more interesting than practically any store bought toy), I felt annoyed and confused. How could San Francisco, the city that just banned plastic bags, allow a large, non recyclable piece of plastic to cover every single item of dry-cleaning? For years, I have been puzzled by the waste of disposable plastic and hangers on dry-cleaned items. I decided to contact the SF environment organization to ask why plastic bags on dry cleaners are ok, but not ok in retail stores. I was also fired up enough to do a google search for dry-cleaning bag alternatives. After a short search, I found the Green Garmento and immediately ordered a bag. I kept reading all about Jennie’s business with her husband Rick Siegel, and sent Jennie an email to ask how I could help to promote her product.
The Green Garmento is a reusable dry cleaning garment bag to bring to your local dry cleaners and avoid the senseless plastic wrapping. The bag is actually multi purpose and can morph into a duffel, garment, or hamper bag. It is made out of a material that allows air flow on newly cleaned items. There are several models of the bag, including one with a place for a reusable hanger, to avoid the wasteful metal hangers.
Jennie says usage of Green Garmento bags has already saved an estimated 2.5 million pounds of single use plastic bags from entering landfills and waterways worldwide. With an estimated300 million pounds of single use plastic dry cleaning bags still headed for landfill annually, there is still so much potential to reduce waste.
I admire Jennie Nigrosh and Rick Siegel because they saw a need, invested their own money and made the leap from a product idea to a business. Jennie had previously worked in copy writing and marketing so making the leap to a product business is impressive. First, Jennie and her husband spent time perfecting a prototype, and then they started selling the idea and growing the business. A lot of us go through our days with random aha moments of a business idea to solve a problem or offer a better service. This is it, we exuberantly tell our friends, a perfect idea for a business! But, the leap from idea to execution is a rare one, and great ideas are quickly forgotten or filed away, sometimes before the next cup of coffee.
The process of moving from idea to launch was certainly full of comical bumps and swerves. Jennie describes the path to creating the first prototype:
My Q&A with Jennie Nigrosh:1) Biggest challenges with running The Green Garmento?Our biggest challenge is also one of our biggest triumphs; Education. It’s imperative that we educate consumers and businesses, especially dry cleaners that there is a viable alternative to single-use plastic garment bags. And not only do they save cleaners money – but they help create a clean closet and a clean planet for everyone.I truly believe that blogs just like this one are going to help us spread the word about our products and our mission. If enough people make one small change at home, it becomes one huge change for the planet.2) Biggest rewards from running Green Garmento?We’ve estimated that our reusable dry cleaning bags that are offered by dry cleaners in 22 countries, at Bed Bath & Beyond and Walmart has helped remove 2.5 million pounds of single-use plastic from our eco-system.Our mission is now a glowing reality and there’s truly nothing more rewarding than that.3) Do you have any favorite quotes that keep you motivated in difficult times?“I’m proud of you, Jen.” Alvin Nigrosh – my 88 year old dad who still works everyday and understands the importance of protecting our environment.4.) Can you describe 24 hours in a typical day including your favorite and leastfavorite moments?I often wake up around 5am. Check emails from a horizontal position and then get ready for my day. My favorite part is my 1 hour workout – usually a hike with my dog Izzy. This helps clear my head and prepare for my day. Plus, it’s really cute to watch Izzy play with all of the dogs at the canyon.Most of the rest of the day is spent at our office which is connected to our warehouse. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive our forklift, and I’m very thankful for my staff who handles all of our shipping and online sales.My day to day is spent on sales, marketing, packaging design, product development, PR and snacks. I’m a big believer in refueling!5. What is your motto?“Stay on your mark.” When I was on The Shark Tank, Mark Cuban was kind enough to help me realize I had literally gotten off my mark (the little “x” on the stage). I use that now as a metaphor to stay laser focused and try not to spread myself too thin – or get derailed if things aren’t perfect.6. Who are your heroes?My mom for one. At 78 she started a brand new chapter in her life. She moved 3,000 miles away (thankfully now 3 miles away from me!), made all new friends and at 81 years old, she’s never been happier. That’s a role model we should all be lucky enough to have.7. How would you like Green Garmento to grow?With fervor. We believe The Green Garmento dry cleaning bags are going to dominate the next reusable bag boom. Our new laundry bag, The GARGANTOTE is poised to be the next big thing in laundry and our new hamper frame weighs under a pound, fits easy on all retail shelves and is the perfect mate to our all-in-one reusable dry cleaning bags. Walmart will be carrying the frame and bag bundle called “The OrGREENizer Set” in stores right around Earth Day!8. When and where are you happiestI love my work. And I’m ecstatic when we sign a new dry cleaner, hotelier or retailer. This means they understand the benefits of our products – and they are putting their faith in me and my company to help the generate more revenue while lowering their carbon footprint.That said, my other happy place happens at the end of my 16 hour work day, I love more than anything to get a running jump onto my enormous couch and snuggle with my husband and my dog. And usually in that order;)
Since launching six years ago, the Green Garmento business has grown steadily and an appearance on the Shark Tank created massive exposure leading to requests from across the country. With 35-60% year over year growth, deals with Google, Mercedes, and the Grammys and Oscars including the products in goodie bags, things are certainly promising for The Green Garmento. However, the vast majority of dry cleaners still use single use plastic bags on every dry cleaned item. Letting people and businesses know there are alternatives and encouraging a switch to reusable bags is a little step of green karma anyone can do a few times a year.
Jennie’s generous nature and passion for her product is evident in her enthusiastic replies to my questions. The fact that Jennie made time to speak with me and brainstorm ideas to sell the Green Garmento to a local organization speaks volumes about her devotion to the product and her business.