The mozzies are biting! However, you can repel them with mosquito-repellent clothing. Local Newcastle start-up Borne Clothing makes ethical, sustainable, mosquito-repellent clothing, and uses the profits to fund the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.
This inspiring social enterprise is made up of four locals who decided to do something about mosquitoes, both locally and overseas. They create high quality ethical and organic clothing, treat them with Insect Shield® repellent technology, and then distribute the profits to help people at risk. It’s a win for both you and others.
You get to wear a t-shirt that stops you getting a mozzie bite AND your purchase pays for insecticide-treated nets, for NGOs to keep boots on the ground, and for scientific research into treatments.
Adult t-shirts are available on the Borne website for $55. There will also be a range of children’s t-shirts available for sale on December 1 so the whole family can wear the t-shirts together.
Thanks to Bal Dhital for taking the time to answer questions about Borne Clothing. He provides some background about the clothing line as well as what’s next.
What is Borne Clothing and who is behind it?
Borne Clothing is a social enterprise on a mission to eradicate mosquito-borne disease. We create mosquito-repellent clothing, and donate half of our profits to funding public health interventions the world over. Our team is made up of four mates: Tim Keys, a junior doctor, Dan Robson, a graphic designer, Pat Prell, a mechatronic engineer, and me, Bal Dhital, a final year medical student.
Why did you name it Borne Clothing?
We’ve taken the name from the underlying mission. Mosquito-borne disease affects 700 million people worldwide every year. So we make human-borne clothing to tackle mosquito-borne disease.
How did this company start? What was the idea behind Borne Clothing?
The idea for Borne Clothing came out of the Grand Challenge run by the University of Newcastle in 2019. The challenge looked at possible solutions for mosquitos in two settings. The first was locally – anyone who has been on the university campus knows just how much of a nuisance they can be.
The second was worldwide – 400,000 die from malaria alone, and more than half of those will be children. That means malaria, which is just one disease borne by mosquitoes, claims the life of one child every two minutes. Our idea was to tackle both of those – everyone has been bitten by a mozzie. They suck. So we thought we could address a global issue by acting locally, and by connecting people through the shared experience of a mosquito bite.
How do mosquitoes contribute to health problems
Mosquitos have killed more humans than any other living creature. In Australia, a mozzie bite might just ruin a nice summer evening, but for hundreds of millions of people every year, that bite could ruin their life. It could lead to serious illnesses like malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus.
The cruel truth is that our struggle in tackling this issue isn’t because we don’t these diseases, nor is it because we don’t have tools that work – insecticide-treated bednets, medications, and testing kits are cheap and effective. The biggest issue in putting them into action is a lack of sustainable funding – even the World Health Organisation says so!
Why is it important for your company to be a social enterprise?
We’ve been inspired by the idea of a one-for-one model. – a product that serves two people. That’s why our mozzie-free tees provide enough funding to purchase one bednet to serve two people for up to three years. That’s three long years of people waking up in the safe knowledge that they won’t have malaria. We think you should be able to make the world a better place with every choice you make, because we fundamentally believe that our choices matter, and that they reflect the world we want to see growing around us.
We don’t think our clothing choices are any different, so why not make the most of the impact of that choice? When we buy a new piece of clothing, we’re engaging with the whole supply chain that has brought it from the harvest of raw materials to the delivery at our front door. Our social enterprise model is based on the transparency of that process – so customers can see how their shirt came to them, and how the profit from their shirt will go on to help other people around the world at risk of mosquito-borne disease.
What is InsectShield and is it safe?
Insect Shield is a US company that uses an active ingredient called permethrin. It is non-toxic and skin-safe for children, and the patented process that Insect Shield uses means that it doesn’t wash off in water – which is why our mozzie-free tees will repel mosquitos for up to 70 washes! Permethrin has a cool history as well, it’s not only used in the insecticide-treated bed nets that Borne Clothing funds, but it’s listed as an essential medicine by the World Health Organisation.
Your company has committed to donating at least half of your profits. Where does the money go?
Half of our net profit is donated to NothingButNets, a UN Foundation grassroots campaign with one single mission: ending malaria for good. They work with established partners on the ground in high-risk countries to develop the right tools to the people who need them most. That means bednets, medications, and all the relevant education on how to use them! Tackling malaria is a complicated problem, so we’re proud to support the work they do to change the world for the better.
Tell us about your t-shirts. How do you come up with the designs for them?
Our shirts are inspired by the places around Newcastle that we love: the beach, the bush, and the city streets. It just so happens that mozzies like those areas as well! We’ve chosen earthy tones and designs that are inspired by this landscape that we love.
How can people order your t-shirts?
Our mozzie-free tees can be ordered directly from our website borneclothing.com. To check out our designs, you can also find us on Instagram and Facebook. We regularly ask for our community’s preferences for upcoming designs, so jump on there if you want to play a part in shaping the future of our enterprise!
You mentioned that you’re about to launch a kids range. What products will be available in this range and when will they be available for order?
We’ll be launching our kids’ range on the 1st of December this year, just in time for a mozzie-free summer for the whole family. Kids are the future of any movement; since we’re looking to support the health of children all over the world, we want to involve kids at home in that process, so that they can see the power they have to make the world a better place for everyone!
What are your goals for Borne Clothing?
We want to create a sustainable and impactful social enterprise that can really help tackle the issue of mosquito-borne disease. One child dies from malaria every two minutes – our first goal is to make that time a little longer. That’s why when you buy a mozzie-free you’re not just buying a shirt, you’re buying time. Our second goal is for you to realise that the power to do that is in your hands – making socially impactful choices is within reach, and it’s an opportunity for you to wear your heart, quite literally, on your sleeve.
As Newcastle locals, where is your team’s favourite place(s) to go for a walk in your Borne t-shirts?
We love a good foreshore walk, a trip to Redhead, a hike through Glenrock, or just a breezy amble down through Newy’s streets! And now we can do them all bite-free!
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