Brandon Kline, Natural Border's Founder
Brandon Kline’s office at 2901 Hungary Spring Road is a testament to his pursuit of eco-friendly living. With tiles made from corkboard and repurposed furniture, Kline, 33, practices what he preaches. Six months ago, he founded Natural Border, a shirt company that specializes in high-end, durable outdoorswear.
Based on the design of the Western shirt and made from bamboo fiber — which is naturally water-repellant and antimicrobial — Kline’s shirts are designed to be comfortable for the beach-goer, boater and lover of the outdoors. There are two designs from which to choose: the long-sleeve ($148), available in an off-white color called white sand, and the short-sleeve ($108), available in an earthy green (grass) and bright blue (water).
Kline developed the idea for the Richmond-based startup about five years ago; he sells Natural Border shirts online at naturalborder.com. After completing trial runs of his shirt production at a few different manufacturing plants, he finally settled on a Brooks Brothers factory near Wilmington, North Carolina. He makes an effort to source everything as locally as possible, from the materials to the manufacturing. “[Richmond is] a community that really seems to embrace the local and support the local, both in their consumer buying decisions and then just supporting the business in terms of getting the word out there,” says Kline.
His environmentally friendly approach even extends to the packaging he uses and the tag on the shirt, which is reusable as a coaster or bookmark and can also be planted, as it has basil or parsley seeds inside. And for every shirt that Kline sells, a portion benefits a volunteer-based, nonprofit charity that provides drinking water to children who don’t have it, both nationally and internationally. The sale of a short-sleeve shirt will provide seven years of drinking water; a long-sleeve shirt provides 10 years.
Kline says early sales have been good, and eventually he might expand to provide other eco-friendly outdoor apparel. No sales are made at the office, but it’s open on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. for people to stop by and learn about the shirts, try them on or just hang out and play the bumper pool table or numerous board games.