FIVE SCOOP: Holstee Creates Products in a Sustainable, Ethical and Beautiful Way.

Holstee started with a huge leap into the unknown. In the heat of the recession in May 2009, brothers Mike and Dave and their partner, Fabian started a company doing what they loved, and based on a core philosophy on which they lead their business. 

The idea of creating more than a company, or clothes motivated and inspired them. “We strive for transparency, intentional design and products that simplify life,” say the founders, “If something can be made in a more sustainable, ethical and beautiful way, we want to know how and we want to be a part of it.”

Holstee launched with a line of Recycled Tees made of 100% recycled plastic bottles that were milled, cut and sewn within 150 miles of each other in North Carolina. Ten percent of all sales were lent to entrepreneurs in extreme poverty through non-profit micro-lending organizations like

They say they want to create a positive impact through good design. They work with amazing artists, travel as a team and diving headfirst into letterpress art, and into their passions. They say the core tenet of the Holstee Manifesto is the importance listening to your gut and pursuing projects that inspire you.

“We have a very hands on approach to getting things done,” say the founders, “We keep experimentation and thoughtful risk taking on the mind at all times. Since we’ve grown organically relative to other startups, we haven’t had to rush a single hire, allowing us to build the best possible team to lead Holstee into the future.

Holstee recently took some time this past winter to transport their team from their headquarters in New York City to Oaxaca, Mexico for 3 weeks. They spent time cooking together, looking at Holstee from a macro perspective and drew up our roadmap for 2013. “We had one of our most productive weeks ever in that time,” they say. This video sums up that trip quite nicely:

The team at Holstee have simplified their approach to ecology and design to three elements- People, Planet, Product. It is what guides the folks at Holstee, and is worth considering for anyone who is creating or consuming in the world.


  • Who is making this product and how does the production impact their life?
  • Will this work to improve their own and their family’s quality of life?
  • Are they being fairly treated and compensated?


  • What raw materials are used and how are they sourced?
  • Is it designed for many uses? Is it designed to biodegrade?
  • How is it packaged and delivered? Does the packaging biodegrade? 


  • Is this product necessary?
  • Is there an existing solution that would allow me to avoid consuming it?
  • Is this a product I will be proud to pass to my children?
  • How can I reuse or recycle it once it has finished its purpose?
  • In its final state, how will it return to the earth? 

They also say they feel very fortunate to have been able to create Holstee, and they hope to jumpstart the dreams of others through the Holstee Fellowship. Every month they announce a new Holstee fellow, giving them a $1,000 grant to jump start a passion project and the support of the Holstee community.

Holstee is about team, paying it forward, People, Planet and Product and about creating products in a sustainable, ethical and beautiful way. How perfect is that?

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