Kotn cofounders Benjamin Sehl, Rami Helali and Mackenzie Yeates.

TORONTO — Kotn — the maker of consciously created basics crafted in Egyptian cotton — has found an innovative, and thoughtful, way to deal with unsold inventory via its new Pay-It-Forward campaign, which launches across North America on Tuesday.

Kotn allocated 8,000 units of men’s wear and women’s wear for the campaign, which encourages acts of kindness during the pandemic. “During this time we are focusing our efforts online. But we wanted to be very careful about how we are messaging to consumers right now,” said Kotn cofounder and chief brand officer Mackenzie Yeates. “This isn’t the time to push people toward sales in an aggressive way.”

Yeates and fellow cofounders Rami Helali and Benjamin Sehl saw how much their online followers liked the content their brand had previously shared on Instagram about random acts of kindness. With that observation, Pay-It-Forward was born.

“Like many companies, we faced the challenge of what to do with our stock. But we saw this as an opportunity to spread a message about kindness and acquire new customers,” said Yeates. “So now we are giving product away for free to spark this new movement.”

Beginning at 10 a.m. EST on April 28, Kotn will post a link on its Instagram account (@kotn) that directs shoppers to the campaign landing sign-up page. Once there, people follow five steps to participate, firstly by sharing their e-mail address to secure access to the campaign. Next, Kotn will forward an e-mail outlining the campaign in greater detail, plus a code that allows individuals to get one product with free shipping. Consumers are then prompted to e-mail two friends, allowing each recipient to redeem one free product that can also be shipped at a cost of $8 in the U.S. and Canada.

Thirdly, people are invited to pass these codes to friends via e-mail as a show of their kindness and gratitude.

Sustainable retailer Kotn launches Pay-It-Forward campaign on April 28, 2020.

Sustainable retailer Kotn launches Pay-It-Forward campaign on April 28, 2020.  Courtesy Photo

Code recipients can select one free item from Kotn’s Pay-It-Forward collection page. They can also shop from its regularly priced core merchandise and take advantage of $8 shipping in North America.

Finally, those who redeem their free product will receive another code good for two redemptions, which can be e-mailed to two more friends to continue paying it forward.

“These are end-of-season products. Some are current. Some are not on sale,” said Yeates.

Since its launch in 2015, the sustainable, “fair wage” retailer with shops in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and a growing online U.S. presence has funded the building of seven schools for the children of its cotton farmers in the Nile Delta region. Four are operational, with three more on their way. This was achieved by donating one percent of Kotn’s in-store and online sales toward this cause.

Kotn’s Pay-It-Forward campaign runs until May 12 or while quantities last.

“This is costing us money to do and we may run out of product before the campaign ends,” said Yeates. “But we’ll see how this plays out as we engage our community and grow that spirit of kindness.”

 

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