Greg Turner isn’t interested in simply selling attractive clothing. For someone like him, who is passionate about reducing waste and utilizing homegrown talent, a business primarily focused on aesthetics just wouldn’t do.
Hence the reason Fringe Outfitters, the Columbus-based online retail company Turner established this fall, offers the kind of merchandise that is increasingly becoming known as “clothing with a conscience.”
“We strive to focus on conscience clothing by delivering to customers three important things: sustainability, organic products, and a concentration on the local workman− currently high school students,” he says, referring to Fringe Outfitters’s ongoing partnership with Columbus City Schools’ design and print program at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.
FringeOutfitters.com carries men’s and women’s clothing, as well as accessories.
“My support staff and I are working diligently to get kinks and any complications out, so be patient with us,” Turner says. “Customers can begin to make purchases through the site starting Sunday, which is the day we will celebrate the site’s official launch. I encourage people to visit and send me an email telling me what they think.”
Read on to learn why Turner −an Eastmoor Academy graduate and Ohio University alum− got into the apparel industry, how he went about getting his business off the ground, and who he considers his “biggest role model.”
Melanie McIntyre: What inspired you to launch a clothing retail business?
Greg Turner: The answer to this question is sort of twofold. I’ve always been inspired to own a business. As a kid I use to buy candy and resell it at school prior to the installation of vending machines in my middle school. So early on there was an entrepreneurial spirit. Clothing came more out of a passion and it was a natural fit. I really enjoy helping friends with tips on what to wear. So pairing these two seemed like a no-brainer.
MM: Your website sells men’s shirts, cardigans, henleys and hoodies, as well as women’s dresses and tops. Why focus on those types of clothing?
GT: These items build a great foundation for any woman or man’s wardrobe, especially in the colder months. For example, the men’s cardigan can be dressed up with a button-up shirt and tie for dinner or placed over top a screen t-shirt for a night of dancing. I think the skinny sleeve slouch for women is a nice silhouette with peek-a-boo material− perfect for daily running around and I think it’s nice enough to wear out at night, especially if paired with some cool boots. With continued support, the items currently available on the site will eventually expand.
MM: Tell me about the accessories you sell.
GT: I currently sell retro watches by Casio and eclectic buttons made by Fringe Outfitters. I’ve also partnered with Sue Lacy of SueLacy Designs to offer custom pieces from her line of hand crafted jewelry and metalwork.
Collaborating with Sue has been a thrill so far. Sue has a similar story to mine as it relates to going on the fringe to pursue entrepreneurialism and her passion for metalwork and jewelry making. I admire Sue and her work because she didn’t allow the economic downturn to discourage her. Instead, she plunged in and took her passion from hobby to business. Sue’s unique designs tend to be organic and nature inspired. She recycles her scrap silver for use in new pieces and enjoys using upcycled and vintage components to inspire new designs.
I’m also working on a great project to upcycle old and unused leather, corduroy, and denim. We will reuse and repurpose these into wristbands, brooches, and rings. To upcycle means to repurpose an old or unwanted item and transform it into something new. It is a great feeling when you take an unwanted item, apply a little ingenuity and fashion sense, and the result is an amazing new accessory with character and style.
MM: When you decided to launch Fringe Outfitters, what were some of the first steps you took?
GT: The very first step I took was finding mentors and inspiration to keep at the larger goal of starting and running a business. Starting a business is somewhat intimidating and without a good support team you may think it is impossible to continue. I then made small goals and worked toward each one. I purchased a URL, got the site running, and contacted local artists.
MM: What resources did you use to get up and running?
GT: The Small Business Administration, SCORE, Small Business Beanstalk, Metropreneur and Columbus Public Library small business forums, how-to-guides, and bootstrapping.
MM: Did you have any advisers, role models, or mentors in Columbus you relied on for advice and input?
GT: My biggest role model has been Jon Myers, owner of Graphic Conversations and entrepreneur of most things technology. Wolf Starr of SBB, Suzi West, owner of Collier West, and Steve Goslin have given great advice and input. My family has also been very supportive of this endeavor. Columbus Underground and its users have been influential and inspiring as well. The stories on Columbus Underground and The Metropreneur highlight small business owners and that keeps me encouraged.
MM: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a business owner and how did you overcome it?
GT: Convincing myself daily that this is possible. Overcoming it is a daily challenge and it’s been manageable by completing daily goals. Daily goals turn into progress, which will, hopefully, help me reach my dream.
The Fringe Outfitters launch party will be held Dec. 19 at Wild Goose Creative at 2491 Summit St. in Columbus. The three-and-a-half hour event begins at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
The event is open to the public. Those who plan to attend can RSVP by emailing Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photography by Adam Slane.