The Current, delivered daily.
A powerful technology can have many applications.
That’s true of the innovation at the heart of EnviroKlenz. In the late 1990s, the company’s team began developing a process that employed high surface area Earth minerals to break down toxic chemicals that might be encountered by a warfighter or first responder.
As they proved the technology’s effectiveness, leaders found that there was potential to bring this technology home, as well.
“If you’re able to attack and break down some of the most dangerous and deadly things that first responders or military folks might encounter, you can bring that to the consumer market in different applications, as well,” Kyle Knappenberger, director of application support and quality assurance at EnviroKlenz, told The Current in a recent interview.
Now, EnviroKlenz is helping to extend the life of clothing. The company recently launched a new Laundry Enhancer that is designed to eliminate odors created by mildew, pets, smoke and more. The fragrance-free, hypoallergenic liquid can be used alongside laundry detergent, providing a boost that is designed to break down the odors at the chemical level. Available through Amazon and direct channels, the product offers a snapshot of how EnviroKlenz is factoring where commerce is heading into its own processes.
Just add water
As leaders listened to consumers, EnviroKlenz had long identified laundry as an area where its technology could enter the mix. For the company, addressing odors on clothing brought its product into every day use. It could also be incorporated into household chores. As it turned out, the washer proved to be an effective venue for the technology to do its work.
“The best way to attack odors and chemicals on clothing was to do it in the wash,” Knappenberger said. “You have a mechanism of dispersal – being the water – you have the agitation and you have the ability to put the two into contact with each other.”
While the product could help to treat odors on clothes that are particularly tough to get out, the market went beyond the weekly load of laundry.
Rise of resale
Getting odors out can also have a role in the growing resale market, as online platforms like thredUP and Poshmark gain more attention. The clothes that are sold through these channels are often heavily washed or fragranced. By removing odors, it can help to restore the item to a like-new state. In turn, this also extends the life of the garment for its new owner.
The secondhand market is likely to be in need of new solutions as it scales. After growth with the uptick of ecommerce adoption in the pandemic, it is projected to double by 2026, reaching $82 billion, according to a report from thredUP and retail analytics firm GlobalData. Within this segment, the secondhand apparel market is expected to grow three times as fast. This accounts not only for consumer preferences that tend toward seeking deals and reawakening the styles of generations past, but also the environmental imperative that many see to build sustainability into the systems at the heart of everyday life.
EnviroKlenz goes to the wash. (Image via EnviroKlenz)
The consumer’s eco-minded orientation fits with the approach of EnviroKlenz, which is working to reduce waste through its goods on multiple levels. On the product level, extending the life of the garment itself can help to keep clothing from heading to a landfill, and reduce the demand for new products that in turn takes carbon-causing emissions to create.
It’s not just about how the product is used by customers. The company also considered sustainability in its own operations. The Laundry Enhancer comes in a bag and-box package. The box is made with corrugated cardboard, which is biodegradable, while the bag can be easily removed. It’s all designed to promote recycling.
For EnviroKlenz, putting all of this together required a change. For other laundry products, it previously used plastic bottles. The bag and box uses 70% less plastic on a load-for-load basis. The packaging also brings efficiency in the supply chain. Shipping 4,000 units previously required 20 pallets. Now, it only requires two pallets to ship both the bags and boxes.
The company set out to center sustainability in its product and operations. The result is packaging that EnviroKlenz said produces 86% less plastic waste than the typical laundry bottle.
“As a manufacturer of this product, we thought, how can we help? Let’s use packaging that uses a lot less plastic, and packaging that is going to be much more compact and easily shippable,” Knappenberger said. “Those are things that are being driven by customers, and trying to do the right thing for the environment.”
Owning the supply chain
At a time when many of a consumer goods company’s processes can be outsourced, the sustainability-minded packaging shows a more direct approach. It is one of a number of ways that EnviroKlenz has control over its own operations at all levels. The company does its own R&D. It makes the key ingredients in its facilities, underscoring the fact that they are made in the USA. It does the testing and evaluation of its products, including sending them to industry leaders and influencers to ensure quality.
“Planning and making sure you talk to the right people in the right industries is important,” Knappenberger said.
Then, it packages the products, and gets them out to the right channels. Through facilities such as the production and fulfillment center where Knappenberger spoke to us from in Topeka, Kansas, it also has a sizable measure of control over the processes that move the products to customers. While it does work with some outside vendors, the overall goal is to be close to the processes, which helps the company move faster.
A shift in mindset before the pandemic’s supply chain chaos brought this about. Now it is being put into practice.
“We wanted to control as much of the process as we could so that we could deliver our products and grow the business the way that we wanted to,” Knappenberger said.
With the launch of the new Laundry Enhancer, there are opportunities for the product to go viral, and the peak holiday shopping season could bring additional interest. These all require a supply chain that is ready to respond quickly. With a focus on listening to customers and many capabilities to respond to them in-house, EnviroKlenz is ready.
Trending in Operations
The virtual store was built by Emperia.
As it opens a new boutique, Italian women’s fashion brand Pinko is opening a virtual store that is designed to create a personalized experience for customers to browse handbags digitally.
Pinko's virtual shopping experience powered by the platform Emperia, which allows users to access metaverse environments through commonly-used devices such as laptops and mobile phones. The launch of the store, which is dubbed Pinko Galleria, is timed with the opening of the brand’s boutique in the exclusive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.
The store has exclusive offerings that allow the brand to cross the physical and digital worlds:
- New handbags that are specifically designed for the experience, and displayed through 3D modeling that offers education and
- NFTs from Pinko called Meta Love Bags.
- Communities for women that are designed for empowerment and independence.
The opening comes on the heels of last week’s closing of a $10 million Series A investment round for Emperia, which has also worked with Bloomingdale’s and Dior. Founded in 2019 by fashion and retail expert Olga Dogadkina and VR technologist Simonas Holcmann, Emperia’s platform provides the technology and visual infrastructure that architect the virtual stores, as well as data and analytics that provides key insights to retailers about how shoppers interact with the store and what is needed to personalize experiences.
The virtual store is designed to complement the physical store. It presents new opportunities for brand-building that is untethered from physical parameters. It also makes the exclusive more accessible. Shoppers anywhere in the world can now enter the store, even as the physical location is only in Milan.
“The new experience allows audiences, worldwide, to experience the unique, bold design that Pinko is so well-known for, wherever they choose to,” says Olga Dogadkina, Co-founder & CEO at Emperia, in a statement. “Our 3D technology ensures a high merchandise-viewing quality, which complements its real-life twin product, to the smallest detail, allowing Pinko to present and directly-sell its exclusive capsule collection in a way that simulates a realistic shopping experience.”
Inside the virtual store, shoppers have the opportunity to browse and navigate through a space that is laid out and merchandised in 3D with all the hallmarks of a Pinko physical store, right down to a full layout of the brand's signature pink. They’re also greeted by music. A sign that the store is not in the physical world arrives upon turning toward the front. Look out the window, and a shopper will find that they are high above the clouds.
That’s a new way to elevate the experience.
Here are more photos of the Pinko virtual store:
Handbags in Pinko's virtual store. (Courtesy photo)
Hands holding handbags. (Courtesy photo)
NFTs in Pinko's virtual store. (courtesy photo)
Looking out the window at Pinko's virtual store.