Purpose Day: Mud Jeans

How did you come up with the idea for Mud Jeans?

“Mud Jeans originated from a desire to create jeans out of sustainable cotton. Annually 24 billion kilos of cotton is produced. Farming cotton takes large amounts of water and takes up a quarter of the pesticides for just this market. If you keep cotton pure, it is very recyclable. We wanted the company to function according to the principles of the circular economy. The people who make the clothes have to be paid in a fair way and work under the right conditions. From the wish to make the chain complete‘​​Lease a Jeans’ was born. For a fixed monthly amount you have jeans for a year, after which you send them back and the fabric is recycled.”

I could no longer sell what my industry was doing to my children.”
Bert van Son


What were your motives?

“I have been in the garment industry for decades and mostly worked
in Asia. In 2008 I took a few years off and travelled around the world. Then I wanted to do something where I could use my knowledge and network, but in a modern and progressive way. I have three children. This generation will struggle with all the things that my generation have depleted. . I could no longer sell what my industry was doing to my children. I also wanted to show within my industry that things can be done differently. And then Mud Jeans came along. In France, I had already come across Disney’s Code of Conduct that tries to ban child labour. I also knew there were factories with better working conditions. This code is the basis of Mud Jeans.”


How difficult was it to envisage the project and how does this initiative help the world?

“Initially, all banks refused cooperation. We continued to demonstrate that waste can simply be made into beautiful products. Meanwhile, 23% of our jeans are made from recycled material, and we are constantly looking for new techniques to improve that percentage. In the late collection, we already have a line that consists of 40% recycled material.

“Nowadays, highly motivated and highly educated staff come to us with the offer to help.”
Bert van Son

“Another entirely unexpected effect is starting to become noticeable. Our production is huge and effects everyone, everywhere. Nowadays highly motivated, and educated staff come to us with the offer to help. Often even without setting high conditions.”


What advice can you give to others who would like to find their purpose?

“We have grown a lot and can hardly keep up with this rapid growth. We now have to find a bank that wants to think the same. The first three problems are: working capital, working capital
and also working capital. That is why my advice is to people who want to find their purpose ‘think big and at the same time do not.” You can achieve a lot with big dreams, even international name recognition. You also have to be prepared not to pay yourself a salary for a certain period. Accept that at least three setbacks occur every day at the office. There are even days you think; maybe I am working on something that nobody is waiting for. Learn how to deal with this, and you are ready to find your purpose. But mainly enjoy it! Experience the idea that you are working on something beautiful that enhances future generations.

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