By Allison Frison • Williams Contributor • Wellness
In summer 2019, two Williams College students and tennis teammates, Misha Medvedev and Peter Frelinghuysen founded Earth Caps, an environmentally focused clothing company dedicated to giving back to the community by combating climate change. Earth Caps is committed to donating $5 from every cap sold to environmental organizations that work to combat global warming and remedy its devastating effects on our planet. The company’s mission is quite simple: “Buy a cap, save the Earth” and has resonated with many people, including students here at Williams. When asked about Earth Caps and its vision, junior Olivia Hindy said, “The overall mission of Earth Caps is awesome. Their commitment and dedication to fighting global warming shows that no matter how small you start, you can still make a difference. It makes it even better that the co-founders are some of my really good friends. Buy a cap, save the earth!”
The inspiration for Earth Caps came during a spring break trip to California that co-founders Misha and Peter took together. “Our hair was long, and we were wearing hats every day,” Misha said. “We both knew growing up that we wanted to be entrepreneurs, and we were both working on some side projects at the time. We were both really interested in sustainability and climate change as well.” On this trip, they put their heads of long hair together and came up with the idea for Earth Caps. Fellow hat enthusiast and senior Calvin Chung loves wearing his Earth Cap, saying, “Earth Caps is a fun way to show support for sustainability. You wear a cap, and suddenly you’re a part of a cap-wearing and earth-loving community.”
Once the idea for Earth Caps had been conceived, the next step was putting their plan into action. However, according to Misha, they did not have much of a plan. “Yeah, we didn’t really have a set out plan going in. A lot of fun went into it. We both realized that this was a fun project and a learning experience, so we didn’t put a ton of pressure on ourselves going in.” Misha says this really allowed him and Peter to get creative and have a good time designing the caps, creating the Instagram, and seeing where the process took them. After some time, they were able to define their end goal: producing a hat made almost completely out of four or five plastic bottles. Misha says that they wouldn’t have been able to be as successful if they had not allowed themselves some flexibility in the beginning. He emphasized the importance of having fun and allowing yourself to be creative when starting a company: “If you have a dream or idea, have fun and go for it. Don’t let anything stop you, especially if your dream involves giving back to the community.”
While this has been a great experience for both Misha and Peter, starting a business always comes with some challenges. “At the end of the day, we are just two college students reaching out to some big, well-established organizations asking for partnerships,” he said with a laugh. “But that was part of the fun!” All of their emails and networking paid off, however, as Earth Caps was able to secure not one, but four corporate partnerships this summer. Another challenge has been working towards creating an entirely sustainable product made only from plastic bottles and organic cotton. “We want to create a product that is both 100% sustainable and feels great. This is obviously a challenge, but an incredibly rewarding one.”
When the company first started, $5 from every hat purchased was donated to an environmental organization that Misha and Peter carefully selected. This summer, however, as previously mentioned, Earth Caps was able to secure four partnerships with four different environmental organizations. Now, each hat is paired with one of these organizations. This model allows customers to choose both their favorite hat and their favorite organization, and also allows for them to feel good about where their money is going.
The rhino cap is paired with World Animal Protection US, a wildlife preservation organization. The coral cap is partnered with Lonely Whale, Earth Cap’s biggest partnership. Lonely Whale works to conserve our oceans, raise awareness about ocean protection policy, and bring a halt to overfishing. “I chose the coral cap because I’m taking a class on coral reefs right now,” senior Anna Wise said. “I’ve learned a lot about the importance of conserving our coral reefs, and buying an Earth Cap is a great way to put what I’m studying into action.”
The wind turbine is paired with Bondh-E-Shams, a charity started by a Williams alum that uses solar energy to pump out water from aquifers in rural communities all over the world that have limited access to drinking water. Lastly, the penguin cap is partnered with Make a Change World, an organization started by two brothers that focuses on getting rid of pollution in our oceans. You can find more information on Earth Cap’s partnerships on their website.
Although Earth Caps is a young company with many accomplishments already under its belt, co-founders Misha and Peter are ready to unveil some of the company’s latest developments. Earth Caps has just come out with limited edition beanies for the winter time. They also have a new cap on the horizon, which will potentially be released next spring. “We’re always trying to come up with new ideas and talk to fellow entrepreneurs and other small, sustainable companies,” Misha stated. Fellow Earth Cap wearers are also excited about what the company has in store in the future. Senior Ariel Brodey said, “I love the fact that Earth Caps was started by people I know and brings awareness to the issue of global warming. I can't wait to see how they grow the brand!”
I asked Misha about the special relationship that has developed between the Williams community and Earth Caps. “This is my favorite question,” he said with a smile. He spoke about how they introduced Earth Caps to Williamstown at first just by placing their stickers all over campus and in Spring Street shops to get their logo and brand name out there. This year, Misha tabled in front of Paresky to sell Earth Caps and talk about the company. “It was so great to meet a bunch of students and see them excited about what we’re doing.” They also recently secured a spot at Nature’s Closet to sell their hats and beanies. As they have begun to produce more caps, Misha and Peter commonly see people they don’t even know walking around campus wearing their caps. “It’s the most amazing feeling,” Misha said. “It really never gets old; every time I see someone wearing an Earth Cap and supporting our cause, I’m motivated to continue this work.” Senior Noah Reich agrees, saying “Earth Caps creates a community of people, both in Williamstown and across the country, who are actively promoting sustainability by wearing hats. I love walking around campus and seeing so many students supporting Earth Caps.”
It’s hard not to love this company, its founders, and its mission. If you would like to learn more about the brand or purchase a cap for yourself, you can find them on Instagram @earthcaps and on their website https://caps.earth/. Buy a cap, save the Earth!
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