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Don’t Throw Your Clothing Tags Away—Plant Them: Small Business Offers Clothing Co.’s an Opportunity to Go Green

When it comes to the challenge of "greening" the manufactured products of the world, every little bit helps. And speaking of little bits, who would have given thought to the refuse created by those millions of branding- and price-tags affixed to new clothing?

A small business owner would. In fact when it comes to innovation, small businesses produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

Manhattan-based I & E Packaging is one of those small, innovative companies because it offers eco-friendly tags to the world’s clothing manufacturers. I & E’s hangtags with embedded plant seeds can simply be plopped down in soil and grown while other tags are made from various organic and recycled materials such as cork, organic cotton canvas, bamboo & wood. The company’s non-metal buttons are made from natural and sustainable corozza nuts, wood & horn, while its metal buttons, rivets, shanks, snaps and plates are made from recycled materials.

The company is growing those eco-friendly product lines in addition to its traditional lines of woven, paper, metal and synthetic brand-name tags which it currently sells to companies such as Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West and Fossil.

I & E was started in 2006 by Ian Kantor, a native of Rochester, NY. Relocating to New York City after college, he spent three years working for a manufacturer in the production end of the garment industry. He spent another 10 years with other firms supplying clothing manufacturers with the raw materials needed for production. After those 13 years he yielded to his true desire and talent— sales, and decided to strike out on his own.

Armed with just a home equity line-of-credit, Kantor opened a two-person office in mid-town Manhattan and a two-person office in Hong Kong, where the actual production and affixing of the tagging takes place before the clothing is shipped to the U.S.

This past March the company received a $15,000 SBA-guaranteed loan from Superior Financial Group under the SBA’s CommunityExpress Program. The provisions under the American Recovery and Investment Act, or ARRA, enabled the company to secure the loan without paying the usual guaranty fee. Kantor has applied those savings to promoting his eco-friendly products.

Sales have grown each year since I & E started and Kantor now has four employees in each of his New York and Hong Kong offices, and has opened a West Coast office in Los Angeles as well.

In addition to doing their "ecological duty," those clothing companies looking for just a little edge over their competitors in today’s recession might be wise to explore the added value of planet-friendly tagging.

I & E can be found on the Web at: www.iandepackaging.com