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DTS Sustainability Model

We built our company from the ground up to be sustainable. It was a direct response to the problems in the apparel industry that are so damaging to our planet and the vast number of people who work in the industry. We made every decision and continue to make those decisions through the lens of how we affect people and planet in addition to making profits. To us, those are all equally important. We're here to change our industry - to be disruptive, and in the process to change our world for the better. #jointhemovement and come visit, anytime. We literally have open doors and you can walk in, no appointment needed.

Sustainability Stages Model

Stage 1 - Crisis Managment

This is actually why we built DTS. We were working with various factories as advisors to our clients on developing sustainable apparel brands. Because we'd been working in sustainability for years already, the approach to less wasteful design and utilizing sustainable and recycled components part was easy.  What was not easy was partnering with factories to build flexible production plans. What was even more difficult, was that when working with certified factories, those orders were very often subcontracted out the back door. This build enormous opacity into the process, not to mention quality issues. Our sleuthing located where the garments were actually being produced and confirmed our worst fears. These factories were in no way sustainable nor ethical. They were not legal by local country standards, and were paying very low wages. The work environments were dangerous with locked doors and insufficient to no safety measures. When we analyzed all of the potential ways to solve for these issues, we realized our best option was to build our own factory and hire out own employees, so we had control over facilities, working conditions, working hours and worker pay. 

Stage 2 - Compliance

We found a facility to lease and hired a small team of talented sewers to work for only three clients who partnered with us on this journey. We needed time to live out our ideals and flesh out our systems to improve quality and reduce waste while keeping productivity high and costs reasonably low. From a compliance perspective, we set up the company to abide by local and national laws, as well as Central America - USA customs regulations. When we finally reached the point that we built our own facility, we partnered with local inspectors as well as WRAP to construct our building to the highest standards.

Stage 3 - Optimization

We began this stage from day one of creating our company. We knew that if we wanted to make high quality apparel, which inherently takes longer than making poor quality, and we wanted to make primarily sustainable apparel, for which the components cost more, and we wanted to treat our people ethically - which also costs more, then we needed to streamline and optimize our operation to offset some of those costs. We looked at every step of the process from first development through delivery and optimized processes to reduce waste and reduce cost while maximizing quality. The employees are a huge part of this, and by paying well, treating the team with honor and respect, providing a healthy and safe place to work and not working overtime or weekends, we have less than 1% turnover. The results? Productivity has increased, flexibility has increased, quality has increased and everyone feels their ownership in the process.

Stage 4 - Market Differentiation

We've been Kaizen from day one.  Sitting still does not suit us. Holistic sustainability is built into our DNA. We're not a fit for every brand. We're not in a race to the bottom penny. We're here to make a difference in our sphere of influence, our industry, our world. We're disruptors and we like it that say.

Stage 5 - Purpose Driven

Our purpose is to be a force for good. For looking out for each other. For taking care of our planet as responsible stewards.  For treating our people and others with care and respect. The folks in the factory are not second class citizens (as they are so often treated in many organizations). They are craftsman that make a brand's ideas come to life and make products that the brand's customers love. Together we can make our industry and our wold a better place.

DTS Sustainbility Roadmap
DTS Sustainability Roadmap
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  • 1995 - Holli & Tulio meet. Holli is Head Designer for Russell Newman and Tulio is the country manager for Guatemala production

  • 2008 - Start of our journey in sustainable apparel

  • 2011 - Helping brands build quality into their apparel from step 1 of design

  • 2013 - Consulting with brands on building sustainable apparel collections

  • 2014 - Turned sourcing focus to sustainable fabrics from this side of the planet to lower our carbon footprint

  • 2015 - Helping brands convert to looking at sustainability holistically, including ethical production

  • 2016 - Rent our own building and hire our own sewers. Create full time, permanent employment instead of seasonal work. Eliminate subcontracting

  • Work standard Guatemalan work week - Monday through Saturday, with no overtime requirements

  • Become Unifi partners

  • 2017 - Develop flexible MOQs and in stock programs to reduce habitual overproduction and waste

  • Refine internal production systems to reduce waste

  • 2018 - Further refine robust QA process, reducing second quality to 2% or less

  • Begin planning to build a new modern factory facility

  • 2019 - Construction of new facility, which exceeds local building standards, in consultation with WRAP. Fresh air, lots of windows, adequate restrooms on each floor, multiple entrance / exit doors, fire escapes

  • Start our charitable give back programs to non-profits sharing our values

  • 2020 - Broker deals with Engineers Without Borders and the Guatemalan government to sew PPE. This allowed us to remain open during the pandemic and even take in 40 extra employees from other closed factories. We supported 100 families during the pandemic.

  • Post pandemic, reduced work week to 5 days per week, 43 hours maximum

  • 2021 - Developed recycling program for cutting scraps, cartons and plastic

  • Loss of our dear Tulio to Covid

  • Verified and Medaled by Hey Social Good in all 3 categories

  • 2022 - Achieve Amazon Certification for Social Compliance and Quality

  • 2023 - Develop free training program for our local community

  • Joined Textile Exchange

Certifications & Partnerships

Certifications & Partnerships

Hey Social Good
GRS - Global Recycled Standard
Textile Exchange
U Trust
BCI - Better Cotton Initiative
Organic 100
GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standard
Recycled 100
Control Union
Organic Blended
Recycled Blended
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