Chico native wears his eco-friendly heart on his sleeve
Aveed Khaki is young, driven, and, fortunately for him, full of energy.
For the past couple years, the 24-year-old Chico native and entrepreneur has had his hands full, juggling a successful real estate magazine and other business pursuits.
But one of his latest undertakings lies close to his heart, because it will allow him to help others.
Khaki is founder of Humanity Ink, a fledging company establishing an eco-friendly clothing line with a twist. In addition to offering threads made from sustainable materials, the business is donating part of its proceeds to charitable organizations.
“I always wanted to do a clothing line,” he said, “but I wanted to give back, too.”
Humanity Ink’s concept is somewhat similar to the ongoing international campaign known as RED, a partnership between retail giant Gap and Global Fund to help African women and children who are affected by AIDS. Half of the money generated by the sale of T-shirts and other RED-themed products goes directly to the fund.
After a lot of research and deliberation, Khaki and his business partner have selected Earth Share as their first beneficiary. The organization will take in half of the profits from the sale of the company’s first product, a green T-shirt bearing Humanity Ink’s logo and a nature-inspired design.
Hard-core environmentalists may be a bit put off, since the clothes are purchased from an international manufacturer, but the fact that they are constructed from sustainable materials and screenprinted locally probably tips the scale in favor of Humanity Ink. Made of 70 percent bamboo and 30 percent organic cotton, the high-quality shirts also describe the company’s motto of providing fashionable earth-friendly threads while supporting environmental causes.
At this time, the green shirt is the only product for sale on their Web site (www.humanityink.com). However, five other shirts are in the works, and Khaki said each will benefit some type of humanitarian or environmental cause. A brown one, for example, is tied to Heifer, an international organization working to end world hunger by providing impoverished families with a sustainable source of food (a cow) rather than short-term relief.
Khaki was a senior at Chico State and had been dabbling in various business ventures when a life-changing event about a year and a half ago became the catalyst for starting Humanity Ink.
He and his then-girlfriend were traveling on Highway 99, returning from a Christmastime shopping trip in Sacramento, when a drunken driver speeding at 85 mph hit them and another vehicle ahead of them head-on on a remote stretch of the highway. Miraculously, no one perished in the crash, but the event still marked a turning point in his life.
“It kicked me into gear and made me realize how short life could be,” Khaki said. “And it made me want to do more—more than day-to-day Chico life.”
He immediately set off to find a way to meld his business ideas with philanthropy. Humanity Ink developed when his business partner, Robby Busick (who also works at the CN&R), shared his concept of selling T-shirts with an additional goal of helping charities. Eventually, the discussions led to a full line of clothing. By spring Khaki had earned his psychology degree, and by the following spring, on Earth Day (April 22) in fact, the first batch of shirts was ready to go.
These days Khaki is working tirelessly to promote Humanity Ink, traveling every few weeks to Santa Monica to meet with interested buyers and get celebrity endorsements. The clothing line is aimed squarely at the young, hip, socially aware market.
Fashion and gossip magazine readers shouldn’t be surprised if they see the Chico-based company mentioned in upcoming issues since Shia LaBeouf of Indiana Jones and Transformers fame and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere have reportedly signed on to sport the clothes. As for Chico boutiques, Khaki says a few of them could be selling Humanity Ink clothes within the next few months.
Unlike T-shirts of similar quality, which Khaki said often sell for upwards of $140, Humanity Ink’s themed products will retail for about $35. After all, he said, more people wearing them means more money and exposure for the charities.
While the company is young and is still working on what the line will comprise, Khaki mentioned jeans, hoodies and other products made mostly from organic, recycled and other sustainable materials. The plan is to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the full line to worthy projects as well.
“We’ve invested significant amounts of time and money into what this is going to be,” he said. “It’s much more than a T-shirt line.”