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Why we do what we do

Holiday Reflection + Oshki's Latest Release

Holiday Reflection + Oshki's Latest Release

Reflecting back on origin stories, I founded Oshki before my senior year in high school. It wasn’t a scripted idea where I had everything laid out in a 50-page business plan. It wasn’t an attempt to boost my resume and increase my odds of college acceptance letters. It wasn’t even due to a passion that I had for fashion or a desire to fix the fashion industry. I saw a problem in my own backyard and wanted to do my part to help address it.

Fast-forward to this summer, when I was a fresh college graduate weighing my career options. Most of my friends already had return offers from their previous internships and were signing apartment leases in big cities across the country. I wanted to go where my heart was and see if I could make something more of Oshki. When is it easier than when you haven’t started a family and have few commitments at play? 

Thanks to our artist Jimmy Cobb’s design skills and Trout Unlimited editor-in-chief Kirk Deeter’s strong belief in Oshki’s mission, we landed a partnership with Trout Unlimited (TU) to produce 7,500 custom-branded shirts for their end of year fundraiser. The long-sleeve performance shirts, like the others sold by Oshki, are made of fully recycled plastic. Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization that works on river conservation efforts across the country. TU was founded in Michigan in 1959, so this partnership was a natural fit. The organization has grown to engage over 300,000 members and leads the charge in fighting for salmon and trout conservation. 

Our Mission.

Our Mission.

I have always been passionate about the Great Lakes. I live within minutes of the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and make sure to constantly visit the largest source of freshwater in the world: the Great Lakes. I have been involved with the outdoors from a young age, and I've documented my love for our surrounding wildlife in various ways.

Through my teenage years, the threat of permanent damage to the Great Lakes ecosystem developed into a deeper issue than ever before. They face the risk of invasive Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes, the ancient Line 5 pipeline under the straits of Mackinac bursting - creating a devastating oil spill, and The Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts towards Great Lakes funding. I became much more knowledgeable of these endangering factors through research at the GVSU Annis Water Research Center in Muskegon, Michigan and I wanted to make a difference.

With these risks at an all-time high, I was inspired in July 2017 to create Oshki at the age of 17. "Oshki" means "Fresh" in Native American Ojibwe (a tribe native to the Midwest and Michigan). From day 1, I opted 5% of all Oshki sales to non-profits we partnered with working to preserve the Great Lakes. I quickly saw the support of my local community and the shared love of that community for local wildlife - enabling Oshki donating over $1100 to these organizations in just a year of sales. 

However, I began to feel like a middle man through these donations, I felt that entrepreneurial itch to do something more, to innovate in a new way. 22,000,000 pounds of plastic waste enter the Great Lakes every single year. That number is set to quadruple by 2050, and not enough people are doing things about plastic waste in the United States, especially in the dire state it is in now. Since 2018, China stopped purchasing most of the United States plastic waste as they had for previous decades. This shift has caused plastic waste to pile up domestically, and often times being thrown into landfills rather than being properly disposed of. This cannot be accepted by us. What humans do in the next few decades will shape the future of the human species.

I took action in doing an entire redesign of my supply chain over my first 6 months at the University of Michigan. I joined an incredible student organization aiding students' projects for positive social change called optiMize - an org that funded me in my newfound clarity and vision for Oshki. Oshki is aiding this situation domestically by using 100% United States' plastic waste recycled into every garment - the first apparel brand to do so. We are looking to find customers as passionate about reducing plastic waste and preserving Earth's waterways as we are, shifting the fashion industry along the way. Together creating a better tomorrow.

Thank you for supporting,

Jackson Riegler

Founder - Oshki