They do the work of a non-profit, but United By Blue
is a for profit company. Started by Temple University grad Brian Linton, the clothing company, guided by a deep sense of social entrepreneurship, aims to clean up the world's waterways.
Linton, an American by birth who grew up in Asia, founded the eco-entrepreneurial venture in 2010. He says, "We sell sustainable apparel that leverages technology, social media and environmental activism."
Now 200 stores in the US and 60 stores in Japan carry the United by Blue clothing line, in addition to online sales. The company headquarters is at 12th and Callowhill, where seven are employed full-time and Linton says there are plans to hire several more staffers in the next few months. United By Blue is set to hire a full-time developer within the next few weeks, bringing a job that was previously outsourced in house. UBB also hosts up to eight interns per semester in the spring, summer and fall.
For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups. "We've done 85 cleanups in 17 US states, removing 138,000 pounds of trash, working with about 1,900 volunteers," says Linton.
UBB also has two major corporate partnerships. Subaru of America donated two new Outbacks in April 2012, and a co-branded line of apparel
sells on the Subaru website as well as in dealerships. "We wouldn't have expected it from a car company, but they can move a significant amount of apparel. The Subaru customer is the United By Blue customer." UBB also partnered with Sperry
, known best for its sailing shoes and apparel.
The concept behind the company name is that we are all united by blue. We all need water to live. Its not a theory; it's a fact.
"Life does not exist without water," says Linton, a seasoned world traveler. "Water on the streets of Philadelphia could be on streets of Beijing years later. If we mistreat water, the implications are for the whole world."
To date, UBB has been bootstrapped and is self-sustaining, and Linton says that the company will be looking to raise a round of funding this fall to pursue more retail outlets as well as bolster its online presence.
: Brian Linton, United By Blue
: Sue Spolan
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