The DJN learns about CLOZTALK from Jeff and Jonny Imerman, brothers and founders of the charity clothing business.
Photos courtesy of Jeff Imerman
1. What was the inspiration for CLOZTALK?
In 2006, we were blessed, along with our friend John May, to be a part of and co-found Imerman Angels, a free one-on-one peer-mentor program across the globe for families with cancer. We help someone with cancer get introduced to another person who’s been through the same cancer and is doing well now! In downtown Chicago, we got the word out for the free service as our friends starting wearing our “logo” t-shirts and swag … to the gym, on a run, walking their dog on a Sunday.
We made high-quality apparel with the Imerman Angels logo on it, and our community wore it more and more. The increased awareness brought volunteers, supporters, future board members, cancer fighters we could help, survivors who became mentors, and donors. We scratched our heads. Why doesn’t every nonprofit with a powerful mission do the same thing? So, along with John May, we co-founded CLOZTALK. Everyday people can buy their favorite charity-branded apparel for 105+ nonprofits at CLOZTALK.com. We design, create, and sell a charity’s apparel so the charity doesn’t have to. The more we sell, the more awareness each cause will have. We believe awareness is the most important thing for a nonprofit.
2. How have you seen CLOZTALK grow since founding it?
The growth of CLOZTALK has been slow but steady. In a little less than two years, we have 108 nonprofits as partners on our site. Because our idea is unique (we don’t know of any other company doing the same thing), and it’s a new concept to the nonprofits, it often takes a pretty thorough discussion in order for the nonprofits to really understand it. We enjoy this part a lot and look forward to having more meetings and conference calls with other nonprofits.
3. On your website, it says 20% goes back to the causes. How important is it for you to not only spread awareness to charities but contribute to the cause as well?
It’s important to us, first and foremost, to raise awareness for each charity. Through awareness comes more connections to people who need that charity’s help, want to volunteer, or even donate. In addition to the increased awareness, though, we donate 20% of net profits back to the charities based on their pro rata share of total CLOZTALK sales for that year. We know the charities operate on limited staffs and limited funds, and they need both exposure and financial support. Without taking anything from them, we want to help these charities to raise awareness and then cut them a check at the end of the year. And it’s totally free for the charities. We will never ask them to pay us or require any promotional obligations from them. There’s just no downside for the charity.
4. What would be the biggest milestone for your company to reach in your eyes?
Our goal is one million charity-branded apparel items on one million bodies in the United States! It would be beautiful to go to downtown Detroit, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, Miami, and so on … and see charity logos on bodies at every corner! That would change the world, and the conversations among us. And bring us together.
5. What has the response been like to your company?
The response has been positive. It’s a new concept, so as expected, it takes some time for people to understand our vision and realize that they really can make a difference for a nonprofit simply by wearing its logo-branded apparel. Once they get it, and start wearing and promoting, they start making the world a better place!
6. What does the slogan “wear because you care” mean to you?
We want to get people thinking about the messaging power of their bodies and apparel. Every day when you get dressed, you have the opportunity to change somebody’s life, somebody’s world. Rather than putting on a plain, white t-shirt, you could wear a t-shirt or track jacket or hoodie that has a meaningful charity logo on it. Instead of a blank slate, you are now a charity ambassador, and someone could stop to ask you what is the name or logo on your clothes. This is how clothes “talk” or spark conversations and connect people. That person who stops you could need the help of that charity or know someone who does. To us, “wear because you care” means making a mindful decision about what clothes you put on every day and knowing that you have the power to truly make a difference in someone’s life.
7. Have you ever had a moment where you felt inspired by the work you do?
Yes! Fortunately, it happens quite often. When someone rocks their favorite charity logo at, let’s say, the gym, then someone else asks about it … and then the two people become friends after the mission is explained or the person becomes involved with the charity, that’s magic. And that’s the vision coming to life and it gets us fired up!
Jeff Imerman has followed his passion for storytelling from journalism, to law to food. Working with his brother, Jonny and close friend John, he is excited to tell the stories of these amazing organizations that are trying to make the world a better place.
Jonny Imerman is a self described health/workout addict, who lives a plant based lifestyle as a vegan. He’s a Detroiter, and loves humans, animals and ideas. He’s a minimalist with one dream: making the world a better place.
Do you know someone we should be schmoozing with? Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org!