As companies look toward the future, the popularity of sustainable brands is growing. And while it might seem like successfully marrying visually appealing, eco-friendly fabrics and comfort is a tall order, for Ken Michienzi, founder and CEO of The Merrimack Company, achieving this successful balance was a nonnegotiable.
The Merrimack Company was born out of a love for sustainability and a desire to be involved in the local community, but making sure they were “producing quality, comfortable clothing was a top priority,” says Michienzi of the company he cofounded with Jerrame Goddard, who also serves as vice president of sales.
The Merrimack Company is a Lawrence-based brand celebrating the launch of its first collection, designed locally in the Merrimack Valley and made from organic and recycled materials. With a goal of reaching environment-friendly consumers as well as those in search of well-made activewear, this new company places a strong emphasis on ecologically friendly manufacturing techniques as well as giving back to the community and the planet.
The pandemic had Michienzi, like many people, reevaluating what he was doing with his life, both in terms of work and with his free time. In doing so, Michienzi, who previously worked in Silicon Valley, “realized that I wanted to shift, to give back to the community, and do something that I felt was really meaningful.” In considering this, Michienzi decided that “community, nature, and adventure were all very important to me. And when I moved back to Lawrence, it brought everything into focus,” he explains.
The Merrimack Company got its start in a converted mill building, using renewable energy. The company is a 1% for the Planet member, which means it donates a portion of sales to the Clean River Project, a Methuen nonprofit that works to protect and preserve the Merrimack River.
Of getting started, Michienzi says he did a lot of research and asked a lot questions and says that being willing to take risks; try things out was one of the greatest things because it allowed him to learn a lot about manufacturing, shipping, and more. “The process of getting our brand off the ground and testing out different manufacturers and shipping methods showed me that we wanted to bring things in house. We use a local, Merrimack Valley based screen printer and it’s things like this that give us control over the quality we are committed to producing for our customers," says Michienzi, adding that “we have high standards for the quality of everything we put out.”
Pieces from the brand’s first collection are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts as well as those seeking activewear staples to help them spend more time outdoors. The first collection includes long-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and beanies. “Everybody needs a hoodie, and we happen to make a great one out of hemp and organic cotton,” says Michienzi.
The company encourages customers to “stay adventurous,” noting that doesn’t have to mean climbing a mountain or competing in an ironman competition. “Staying adventurous is about living passionately,” says Michienzi, which can be different for everyone. Our clothing represents a mindset that is bold and passionate,” says Michienzi. The goal is that wherever you are in your journey, The Merrimack Company has something to make your outdoor adventures the best they can be.
As spring unfolds, customers can expect to see new items rolled out, including yoga pants and leggings. Looking ahead, Michienzi says that community and being mindful of its impact on the planet will remain at the core of everything the company does. “We are constantly looking at ways to be involved with the community, whether that’s with like-minded community members or local businesses, these are core values that will remain central to who we are.”
For more information about The Merrimack Company’s first collection, visit merrimackco.com