No Rival Industries: The scrappy, do-good startup making an impact
Stirred to launch early by the sudden and aggressive rise of COVID-19, No Rival Industries started manufacturing cloth face masks. For every mask sold, one is donated to communities in need.
Imperative as it is that medical PPE (personal protective equipment) be saved for doctors and nurses, the production of cloth masks will help keep those supply lines safe.
I spoke with Jenni Moon to learn all about No Rival’s grassroots beginnings, all the ways a company can be philanthropic, and where she sees the need for future impact projects.
Sendle’s small biz quiz
Name, title, and location
Jenni Moon, Founder | Seattle, Washington and Miami, Florida
In a nutshell, what is No Rival all about?
No Rival Industries has been an idea floating in my head for many years that asked some tough questions:
- "Why is it so hard to get people to care?"
- "Why don't I care more personally?"
- "Maybe there's a way to make this easy?"
The obvious thought was to try and bridge the gap of inefficiencies in the philanthropic domain (relying heavily on donor models for impact) and the immense impact I saw happening in for-profit startups with less of a moral code.
"What if you hustled together those two domains? Is it simply a B Corp that gets started? Or could there be more?"
Cut to: Let's build this all on the notion that we would be willing to experiment by choosing to give away our profits for our first impact projects. Building a company I think instantly sets off a scrappy, impact-based mindset.
And we're super no-frills about it.
We want to vet all causes we support. And if we don't find a cause that meets our criteria, we'll create our own towards issues we think really need to be solved.
The pursuit of all of this would eventually subside my own apathy and skepticism that impact can really happen if we effectively collaborate better.
It's always nice to go rogue and not always start as such an official organization with donors and a board.
We kind of like experimentation that's true to the product and the people we want to reach.
You are based in Seattle, right? Is everyone located in Seattle?
As the founder, I'm based in Seattle currently. Our production partners are based in Wynwood (Miami).
Low key, it’s the family business run by my father, mother, and older brother—Actibo. They generously volunteered their production capacity to pivot during COVID-19 in order to help me launch this project within one week from idea to launch.
A number of our awesome friends of No Rival Industries are scattered throughout NYC, LA, and SF. My childhood best friend, Sarah Chung, is our Creative Director. She’s currently lead designer for The People Vs. (a streetwear brand from Australia).
We’re quite fortunate to have the network we have.
How did No Rival get started? Was it in response to COVID or was there an earlier catalyst?
Though the idea for No Rival Industries has been years in the making, our first impact project was expedited as a response to COVID-19.
We had a few beta concepts we rolled out unofficially before No Rival Industries. It was to test this idea of bridging the gap for mission-based organizations.
We collaborated with our friends at Hevel Studios earlier in 2020. It was a self-funded project to raise funds for Belwop in Nyeri, Kenya. More info about what we accomplished there can be found on their site.
The idea is that similar impact projects will be launched as a response to the needs we see in our community (locally and globally). It can stem from an idea, an individual, or an organization.
The only thing we ask is that folks wanting to work together come to the table with a true desire to collaborate. We actually welcome unlikely folks to expand their reach with us: influencers, bloggers, podcasters, non-profits, etc.
We're a bit rogue in our approach because we know that every win has a direct impact to our causes.
We find that experimentation and sustainable growth (made to order or limited supply) is the key to building with agility and towards products that really matter.
No Rival is a collective. How did the collective come about?
I feel like I'm cheating answering this question!
I have an astounding tribe of friends, ex-colleagues, and mentors that surround my personal and professional network. They have always been quick to say yes to consult or ideate on the numerous iterations of No Rival Industries conceptually over the years.
What's amazing about this collective is that it's unofficially the most official network I can lean on. It's ingrained within the way we have built so many lasting friendships over the years.
So it's definitely No Rival Industries' secret sauce! I hope to unveil many more of these silent heroes as we continue building our impact projects.
What fields are represented in your collective?
Many to name and we constantly have folks willing to join the cause. We have folks from all fields represented! Startups within fashion, real estate, fitness, healthcare.
How do your professional lives (and associated skill sets) figure into the running of No Rival?
Many of the skills present within our collective are often aligned with the work everyone is doing in their daily professions.
Whether it's asking someone to look over our P&L on a project launch to make sure we're making sound business decisions or media gurus giving us some content ideas for our social accounts, we make use of everyone's strengths.
We keep it open as well—we get that folks are so busy!
So, part of the collective is to make it easy for these talented folks to plug in when they can and when they do all the items are lined up in a way they can easily work with us.
Project COVID is operating at cost, correct? You guys just pay yourselves back, essentially?
We are still in the process of figuring those pieces out as we scale up.
We are flexible with where the story takes us next. But essentially, I donate my own startup costs towards the website and administrative items in order to operate the mask project itself at cost.
Have you started other small businesses?
This is my first impact-based business at the founder level.
I currently work in early-stage startups. I love the energy and hustle that my career has always instilled in me. I’m no stranger to hard work, but hard work + meaning, well,that’s the ultimate winning combo.
It’s when work doesn’t feel like work anymore and you have the optionality to wake up every day and ask-- “What is it I get to do today?”
That’s the ultimate goal for myself. With No Rival Industries, though I may not be full time with it currently, it’s where I spend every ounce of my freetime.
Always happy to connect with other like-minded folks. Feel free to add me on LinkedIn—let’s connect!
Are there any other impact projects in the pipeline? Any ideas?
We deeply care about generational issues. We always have our eye on creating more bridges than burning them.
Right now, what is most heavy on our hearts, is our response to Black Lives Matter. We took some time to think, listen, and research.
We have a strong bias towards actions, so we wanted our response to be about driving direct impact to such systemic issues around racism. We landed on how powerful the right to vote will be this year.
We are in talks with non-profits actively fighting voter suppression in the US. We’re so excited about the concept for this project and can’t wait to share more soon.
It will be No Rival Industries’ first apparel launch!
How do you choose a project to focus on? I mean, the current one seems obvious, but when things are normal again, I’m sure there are tons of options for impact projects.
I choose/create projects based on my observations.
I see many of my own peers and younger folks I mentor struggle with dissatisfaction even in relatively meaningful paths they've chosen.
Some of us have clear ways we label this dissatisfaction. But, to me, it's always been about looking a little deeper within myself and the world. And understanding that my own apathy is something I have to face.
It's not pleasant and at times, it's deeply uncomfortable and unforgiving. But, in order for us to all start ACTUALLY leading more meaningful lives, we have to focus inward a bit.
And then after that, help each other along in that journey—to start caring.
HELP THOSE IN NEED. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. BE FORGIVING. AND BELIEVE PEOPLE ARE MORE CONNECTED THAN YOU THINK.
I believe that if I am out here doing this, it’s not only proof anyone can, but it’s the exact point I’m trying to make.
If we make it easy to care, more people will. IMPACT OVER APATHY is modeled and then repeated. It may be slow and incremental, but we know it’ll be worth it.
What does the growth of No Rival look like to you? How does something like this scale?
We are just so blessed by the growth we achieved in a month from launch. 200x with our mask project.
The scale of this will be an interesting story.
Right now, it's homegrown.
It's very scrappy and truly the accomplishment of our partners and friends willing to provide advice, resources, and just believe in the mission over the business.
To scale, we would have to determine first if we are a brand, a hybrid, a B Corp, a non-profit, or something entirely new?
We believe our value is in being able to deliver customized, handmade goods that are fully made in the US. One direction is to scale up that side of production and see if there are enough collaborators in the marketplace to work with.
We may be able to go B2B, then B2C indirectly. Which would be quite a pivot. But, with the pandemic, there is a story unfolding here! And we are here to experiment.
Because again, our core focus will be to drive impact. How we achieve that may morph. But, impact is impact. And that's what we LOVE about this. It’s why we pour all of our free time into this project.
How has your experience of Sendle been so far?
I love Sendle. The ease and economical way of carbon neutral shipping is such a plus. We're grateful Sendle helps us afford to do the right thing.
No Rival Industries on social media: Instagram | Facebook
Photos courtesy: No Rival Industries