This post is first in a series of founder profiles, introducing you to the leaders behind the startups featured on SeedInvest, and the personal and professional journeys that led them to create their companies.
Tom Chappell of Tom’s of Maine and Ramblers Way
Tom Chappell of Tom’s of Maine and Ramblers Way has focused his career on building values-based, family businesses. His first company, Tom’s of Maine, which offers personal care products made with natural ingredients, was bought by Colgate-Palmolive, Inc in 2006. His current venture, Ramblers Way, offers premium-quality, sustainable clothing for men and women made in America. Ramblers Way is currently raising its Seed round on SeedInvest.
Lessons from Tom’s of Maine
In a recent How I Built This podcast, Chappell explained how he started Tom’s of Maine in 1970 with a goal to create personal care products that were healthier and better for the environment. He eventually sold Tom’s of Maine to Colgate-Palmolive, Inc. for $100M in 2006, but in the intervening decades Chappell learned a great deal about how to scale a business while maintaining its sustainability. He explains, “I was successful at Tom’s of Maine because I took market share away from Colgate, Procter & Gamble and Unilever … with an alternative approach to product development and product and service.”
As Tom’s of Maine expanded from natural foods stores to distribution in supermarkets across the country, Chappell was looking to bring additional meaning to his life and work. He enrolled in Harvard Divinity School. On the value of his time there, he says, “I was able to return to Tom’s of Maine on a full-time basis and say ‘here are the things that we’re going to do in the name of goodness and performance.’” Of course, he adds, “I’m a businessman. And to be a businessman, profitability is part of the responsibility to yourself and to others.” Chappell continues to bring this dual focus on values and success to his new endeavor.
A New Chapter with Ramblers Way
Last week, Forbes published a profile picking up where the Tom’s of Maine chapter of Chappell’s career ended, and a new one began. After the successful sale of the company, he and his wife, Kate, found themselves looking for a new way to engage with the world. While traveling in Wales, he noticed the contrast between the bulky, synthetic hiking layers he was wearing, and the light, warm wool of the sheep that surrounded them. He tells Forbes that what he saw, combined with this past business experiences, caused Chappell to ask the question, “Could sustainability be brought into apparel industry?” His new company, Ramblers Way, answers that question with an emphatic “Yes.” Ramblers Way, named in honor of his travels with Kate (who is also his co-founder), sells garments made with unique fiber for lightweight and soft fabrics, and wools that are breathable, anti-microbial and moisture wicking.
Chappell expands, “I thought about a business that could once again benefit from a change in the way it operated, operating with the principles of sustainability which have been so important to me at Tom’s of Maine. And that’s what I decided to do in the textile and the garment industry because it is the second-largest polluter on this earth. It exploits sewing and seamstresses around the world. So we set out to figure out what we could do of an American-based product, i.e., wool. So we make coats, we make shirts, we make pants, polo shirts, everything.”
Ramblers Way has four retail locations, an e-commerce business, and 32 employees. The company has achieved 119% overall gross revenue growth form 2016 to 2017. Ramblers Way has also brought in expertise from across the apparel industry. The consultant team includes industry executive Marty Bailey from Fruit of the Loom and American Apparel, and designers Dominic D’Alessandro and Michael Boyle, who have experience from Timberland, UGG and others.
Invest in Ramblers Way
Chappell shared with SeedInvest, “We chose to raise this round with SeedInvest because it is led by smart and pleasant people who also happen to be the market leaders in equity crowdfunding. There is need in the marketplace for this kind of fundraising option. For Ramblers Way, equity crowdfunding allows us to invite investors to join us on our mission of creating sustainable, made in America apparel for a consumer who cares about our shared social and environmental mission.”
Ramblers Way is currently raising its $5M Seed round of preferred equity at a $15M pre-money valuation. If you are interested in learning more about this investment opportunity, you may view the company’s profile here (/ramblers.way.farm/seed). Please note that this opportunity is only available to accredited investors.
Ramblers Way is offering securities under Rule 506(c) of Regulation D through SI Securities. Additional information may be obtained from: Ramblers Way: /ramblers.way.farm/seed"
This post was written by Tai Nicolopoulos on February 23, 2018
Founder Profile Series: Tom Chappell of Tom’s of Maine and Ramblers Way