SheKnows had a chance to speak with founder and CEO Joel Primus to learn about the brand and his passion for giving back.
When Joel Primus set out to begin a line of men’s undergarments, he wanted it to be sophisticated and modern — and comfortable, of course. When it came to fabric, he wanted the best of the best. In addition to being streamlined and sensuous, Naked prides itself on being environmentally friendly. The brand’s factories are Blue Sign Certified, meaning they meet some of the highest standards in the textile industry.
The brand first gained national attention after Primus presented it on the hit-show Dragons' Den, Canada’s version of Shark Tank back in 2009. After being rejected by potential investors in front of 1.3 million viewers, he didn’t stop there.
"Oddly enough rejection did fuel me in my early 20s," Primus said. "Now, however, rejection, like on Dragon’s Den doesn't fill me with the sense of ‘I'm going to prove you wrong!’ I learned that your motivations really need to be aligned with true desire and positivity... not something negative."
Because of the show, Primus received a slew of offers from investors who have since helped to grow the Naked brand.
Joel Primus co-founded Project World Citizen (PWC) in 2009 with the mission to "promote a positive and locally oriented demonstration of environmentally sustainable projects across the world," according to its website. This nonprofit organization focuses its efforts on providing educational resources to developing countries in need. PWC was actually meant to be a video project Primus and his brother set out to film while in Central and South America. While in Peru, he found a pair of underwear that actually became the inspiration for Naked.
Joel: They were actually born together. I was traveling through Central and South America on a filming project with my brother that we called Project World Citizen. It was in Peru that I found the underwear that eventually inspired Naked. The byproduct of the trip didn't end up being a film but a classmate of mine from university and I ended up turning Project World Citizen into a nonprofit society and when Naked began I wanted to keep the two close — a legacy of how it all came to be.
Joel: Other than my parents it was my grade 10 Social Studies teacher that really taught me about charity work. That year I decided to sell tickets to watch the NHL playoff on a large screen in our high school gym and we were actually able to build a water-well in Ethiopia with the proceeds. Then on my travels through Asia, which were completely indulgent and solely focused on partying, we had a dinner with a friend’s sponsor family in Vietnam and the simple experience of being in their small home with eight family members and seeing how selfless and generous they were with their limited possessions made me realize that I always needed to be thinking about how I can help others.
Joel: PWC is on its second computer lab in Ghana. Naked has donated to the Hospice Society, The Burn Fund, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and a variety of other local charities but PWC's focus is on providing sustainable educational opportunities in Ghana, where we've determined a very specific need that we know we can help. We plan on starting our third computer lab following the Holiday season.
For every Naked product purchased, a percentage goes to Project World Citizen to help fund their current project: building computer labs in Ghana for students. The labs will allow them to gain a better post-secondary education along with essential computer skills. Want to get Naked in the name of charity? Although the women’s collection won’t be available until fall 2013, getting Naked is a great gift for that special man in your life. This fall, Nordstroms nationwide will carry the brand. Until then, head to thenakedshop.com to shop online.
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