Kitsbow has revealed
that from January 3 it has been bought from previous shareholders by its employees.
Starting 10 years ago, Kitsbow has been increasing its scale of production with a shift to U.S. manufacturing in 2019 with a complete halt to offshore-made clothes in 2021. Employee owned companies give staff a greater say in how the business should operate and in Kitsbow's case it seems that will make for more ethical and responsible practices. In its PR, it listed some of the past initiatives that the current leadership has embraced including:
- Training a workforce with no prior experience making premium apparel
- Helping build trails in Old Fort for access by all
- Making 180,000 hand-sewn masks for first responders and medical professionals, and eventually the general public
- Making apparel in a sustainable way to better protect the planet
- Building and operating a unique retail service with excellent and healthy food made locally, free public restrooms, and free parking while riding/hiking
- Hosting the first bike shop in Old Fort in recent memory
- Using only compostable materials in all shipping and packaging
- And creating generous employee benefits, such as 100% health care insurance paid by the company, on-site yoga, reimbursed footwear, subsidized food, and more
The sale included a commitment to keep the majority of ownership in the hands of the company's employees going forward.
Alongside the employee ownership, Kitsbow has also announced its aim to achieve B Corp status
and it has become a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). In its press release, Kitsbow says being a PBC: "empowers leadership of the organization to embrace 'social and public good' of both customers and employees, while operating in a responsible and sustainable manner, and place the interests of shareholders on equal footing. Diversity and inclusion are also values threaded throughout a PBC’s legal structure and purpose."
Becoming a certified B Corp is not an instant process, looking at a business’s social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. It can often take a year or longer for certification but with the new ownership, the work has started on receiving a B Corp certification.