Tell me about your startup.
Illumine Collect is a lifestyle apparel company, mainly rooted in action sports, such as skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking. It’s more of the X Games vibe. We partner with nonprofits that use the sport as a vehicle to create a positive impact on others. There are tons of different ways they do that, for example, after school programs for kids that use skateboarding to give them an outlet. Our partner right now is TrailSpring Inc. Its thing is to build a community around mountain biking, but also have sustainable practices and promote health and wellness. We give 20 percent of each sale to the nonprofits we are partnering with at the time.
 
What are you selling?
Right now, we have two different shirts, a hoodie, a handful of hats and a beanie. It’s wearables, but as things grow, we would expand the line and get accessories and things like that. The official launch was Jan. 1, but it’s probably been about a year and a half in the planning stage.

Where is it manufactured?
My day job indirectly ties into this. I do outside sales for the CrackerJack Shack, and we do screen printing for promotional products. Everything for Illumine is printed here in Springfield at the Crackerjack Shack. To get everything off the ground I spent about $2,000. Everything’s being reinvested in the business right now, and we’re planning to launch a Kickstarter in the fall of 2017.
 
How have sales gone so far?
It’s been slow, but I feel that is expected. It’s also off-season for TrailSpring. We have done some cross promotion and reached out to some different influencers on YouTube and Instagram. We send them some goods and see if they will do a shout out. Right now, we are right around $500 we will be able to donate back. As we grow our partnerships, we grow this company and raise awareness. It’s symbiotic.
 
Who is Illumine partnering with?
Our first partner is TrailSpring and the official partnership is from Jan. 1 to March 31. The next partner lined up is called WAVES for Development. They are based out of Rensselaer, New York, and go on volunteer surf trips to areas like Mexico, Peru and Nicaragua. They go in and teach classes in the local community, help clean up the local community and give back through the things they purchase. We will partner with them until June. The first year, we are on a three-month cycle, but the goal is to slowly roll back that time, but have a bigger impact.

The official partnership is geared toward one charity for a specific amount of time, but store sales could have a lasting impact. We will partner with like-minded shops in that area and sales at the shop will continue to go to that organization, even after the official partnership has ended. For example, with TrailSpring, we are selling at Sunshine Bike Shop.

What’s your goal for Illumine Collect?
For this year, if I could give back at least $1,000 to each nonprofit, I would be happy about that. The idea is to increase that in a shorter amount of time. There are two sides to target in the market. There are the people who want to make a purchase because they support that nonprofit, they have a natural attachment; then there is the market we want to get into, the people who just like buying apparel. If you walk into PacSun in the mall, you might just like the shirt and want to buy it. If it donates to a cause, that’s great, too.

Jeremy Lux is founder of Illumine Collect. He can be reached at jeremy@illuminecollect.com.