At Atlanta-based brrr°, cool has become really hot. That’s because the textile technology company has figured out how to create yarn and fabric that can reduce skin temperature by two to three degrees, and national brands are jumping at the chance to make their products chill out.
The technology incorporates what brrr° calls the triple-chill effect, a combination of cooling minerals embedded in the yarn, accompanied by moisture-wicking and rapid-drying properties. Cotton, nylon and polyester blends; rayon; and spandex are among the types of yarn and fabric brrr° licenses to companies such as baseball cap distributor The Game, Greenville, S.C.-based Southern Tide clothing, The Gap, Jos. A. Bank, Men’s Wearhouse and DOWNLITE bedding.
Mary-Cathryn Kolb, a veteran of Tom’s Shoes and Spanx, launched brrr° in 2014 after pursuing the idea of clothes that could help people feel cooler – not warmer – and learning all she could about what it takes to be a successful startup.
“I always knew that I would start my own company one day,” she says. “I’d been looking for that window of opportunity to claim something as mine. That allowed me to be a great student of the companies I worked for, from operations, logistics, culture and management. I was able to conclude that you have to have the full package to be successful.”
She compiled a business plan and started raising capital, then quickly established a board of directors and began hiring her team of 11. Kolb determined that Taiwan, where she says leading-edge textile technology is born, would be the ideal location for manufacturing what she hoped would be an industry disruptor. She says it was critical for all these elements to come together fast and in parallel.
Kolb was fortunate to link up with launchpad2X, an Atlanta-based program that fosters the growth of female entrepreneurs. She also found support from Georgia Tech’s business incubator, the Advanced Technology Development Center, and Venture Atlanta, an annual conference that connects investors with technology companies.
“Atlanta is a welcoming community for startups,” she says. “I’ve had such pleasure to be able to grow with such like-minded people.”
In addition to fabric and yarn already being made into bedding, caps, men’s dress shirts and women’s clothing, brrr° this year will launch denim and a faux leather that will be tested in Ford minivans in China. Kolb says the company recently filed patents on its next technology, which she describes as “the Uber of textiles,” referring to the industry disruption she expects from the new products.
“brrr° is incredibly fortunate to have a great product that is selling in the market,” she says. “Our current customers have doubled orders [for this year]. All of this is happening because we have an incredible team. We all care about what we’re doing, we believe in the product and we’re having a good time.”