image of employee sitting area, roof made from recycled vinyl billboard.

One of our employee sitting areas. The roof is made from recycled vinyl billboard material.

People. Planet. Profit.

Looking through the triple bottom line lens drives the TS Designs journey as we continue to ask ourselves how we can improve our impact to people and the planet. That includes everything we do at our facility.

Our building was constructed in the late ’80s, and sits on 4.5 acres that was originally farm land. There was one tree on the property, a pin oak that sat on the corner and remains there today. Although sustainability was not at the forefront at that time, today every decision we make is based on what is best for People + Planet.

Around the Facility

image of Courtney, Josh, Liana, and Eric planning over the dye garden.

Community Garden to Natural Dye Garden

Employees benefitted from a community garden for many years, and we had chickens that delivered fresh eggs. We unfortunately can’t have chickens anymore because we were annexed into the City of Burlington and chickens are not allowed within city limits, while many other metropolitan areas allow chickens (#wewantourchickensback).

The garden is now in transition to be a natural dye garden, although employees still benefit from CEO, Eric Henry’s home garden when he brings seasonal treats in to share.

Our natural dye expert Courtney Lockemer, along with Joshua Humphreys of Croatan Institute, Eric Henry, and Liana, our new part-time farm manager, are discussing plants to grow, site prep and planning schedules to create local natural dyes for our retail brand Solid State Clothing. Josh is also helping us choose what native tree species to plant around the building.

Currently the garden is covered with old cotton bale covers from the farmer that grows the cotton for our shirts. Soon we will have rye as a cover crop to get us through the winter.

We’d love to home bees on our site and welcome anyone to approach us if interested!

Edible Plants
We have planted native and food-producing species, such as a pawpaw tree, muscadine grapes, wild blackberries, and a hardy kiwi vine. These days the muscadine aroma is present as you walk by the vines.

image of Courtney, Josh, Liana, and Eric planning over the dye garden.
Image of Courtney picking some hardy vine kiwi.

Sunflowers grow here through the summer. The seeds of a Hopi black dye sunflower can be used for creating natural dyes, so Eric is hard at work harvesting one as a test, not from our garden, but they will be growing here next year.

Image of sunflower grown on the property
Image of Eric Henry harvesting the seeds from a sunflower for natural dye.
Image of Dr. Jack driving a tractor.
Image of peace sign sculpture.

Dr. Jack
Dr. Jack Martin has been instrumental in creating projects and helping around the facility. He’s added a windmill and has a solar project in progress. Here he is moving wood chips we get from the app Chip Drop that supplies free wood chips to gardeners.

The peace sign sculpture made from parts of an old printing press, was created by TS Designs founder, Tom Sineath in honor of Dr. Jack who was previously in the Peace Corps. In addition to his many projects, Jack also hosts monthly Triad Electric Vehicle Association (TEVA) meetings, which are open to the public, on our property.

City Compliance
Some might think our big pile of fallen trees is an eyesore (the city does). We love that it creates a habitat for biodiversity.

We don’t mow our grass as frequently as other folks because we like to encourage a variety of animal life, including pollinators who are running out of places to live amidst development. Therefore we often find ourselves out of compliance with max height issues.

Image of pile of fallen trees to create eco-diversity.
Image of notice from the city that our grass is too high.

Projects in the Works
Action is happening around and behind the building these days. We will soon have a festive sitting area to encourage a community hang-out area. There will be picnic tables, lights, and walking trails. Note the wood chips on the trails are covering a layer of cardboard we have recycled.

Image of mulch spread throughout.
Image of future hang out area.

In conclusion, it is not only our production processes that we focus on being sustainable, but rather EVERY decision we make has a reason. As Eric Henry says, “Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. I’ll be on that journey for the rest of my life, both personally and professionally. Not one person has the answer; the answers lie within our communities.”

TS Designs manufactures the highest quality printed t-shirts in a domestic, transparent, and trackable supply chain. We work with brands who want to provide their customers with responsibly made clothing that positively impacts people and the planet.

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