Being made redundant during the pandemic pushed former Dundee pro-wrestler Mike Fletcher to create his own sustainable clothing brand.
Sustainable streetwear brand HardKore Inc was born after Mike lost his sales advisor job due to the pandemic.
The Dundonian was a professional wrestler for 11 years before he got a neck injury and had to medically retire.
Mike then spent 10 years in customer service jobs before being made redundant last August.
He says: “For about a month or two, I just went into a depression.
“I’d originally thought of HardKore Inc about 12 months beforehand, it was an idea that was just in the back of my mind.
“I wanted to take this and make it something.”
Standing up against fast fashion
The inspiration for HardKore Inc came from Mike’s research into fast fashion.
Fast fashion is cheap and rapidly produced clothing responding to current trends.
The fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water, generating around 20% of the world’s wastewater and releasing half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually.
The average consumer buys 60% more pieces of clothing than 15 years ago.
Mike says: “I wanted to be different from anyone else who’s just printing some T-shirts and hoodies and have no knowledge into what they’re really doing.
“I wanted to know exactly where my products come from, how they’re made, and what they’re made from.
“Also making sure that the farmers on these cotton farms are actually getting paid for the work that they do.
“If I can do 1% of something to help in this crisis then I’ll do that, if that’s selling T-shirts or hoodies.”
HardKore Inc out to Dundee
As well as caring for the environment, Mike is a mental health advocate and involved with the Scottish Association for Mental Health.
The journey from being without a job and depressed to working on his own business and brand has been positive.
He says: “I impressed myself to be honest. It’s been really positive, especially from a mental health standpoint.
“I’ve really enjoyed the process and learning about the business aspect, focusing on doing social media or sitting here designing.”
Since creating the brand in September 2020, Mike has done all the work on his own from his bedroom.
His shop is currently online, but he hopes in the future to do pop-up stalls in Dundee to sell his clothes and educate people on the impact of fast fashion.
Mike says: “I’m excited for the next year, it’s just going to keep growing and growing.
“A year from now I definitely won’t be sitting in my bedroom at home doing this.
“Hopefully I’ll have some sort of headquarters or a place that I can call a workplace away from home.”