In the past few years, the global protective clothing market has witnessed immense growth. Growing industrialization, the evolution of socio-psychological comfort, and changing workplace regulations have contributed to this rapid growth. Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by a storm, retailers, brands, consumers, industries, and even governments are embracing protective wear like never before. As today’s generation is more safety-conscious, protective wear is gradually becoming a priority.
Catering to the current needs, Hazel Solle and Carlton Solle (Co-founders of G95) established a brand that revolutionized the protective wear industry. Blending safety and quality with the latest fashion trends, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company has set a benchmark for brands to follow. Being the Co-founders, both Hazel and Carlton have been the pillars behind the concept, management, and growth of the company.
The Illustrious Background
Carlton has more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and business development. His portfolio of successful ventures includes a long list of projects and businesses he has developed from concept to market. He is a natural marketer and a consummate idea guy with a passion for the environment and creating products that raise awareness about environmental issues as well as empower people to make a difference. Born in Marine County, California, Carlton graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and has traveled extensively abroad. He spent ten years in Costa Rica –where he met his wife Hazel.
Hazel, on the other hand, was born and raised in Costa Rica. Growing up in the land of ‘Pura Vida’ inculcated in her a strong connection and respect to nature and the environment. Since childhood, she has been passionate about health, wellness, and style. G95 allows her to create stylish and eco-friendly products, giving her a platform to help protect women and children –which is something she holds dear. When she is not busy working on new products, she is usually found at the gym making someone laugh or at home with Carlton, daughter Elena, their four dogs, and a cat.
The Story Behind the Concept
In 2015, Carlton got sick and was having trouble breathing while on a trip to China. According to the doctor, respiratory infection from the plane or smoke or the air pollution in the city may have been the prominent cause behind it. The doctor advised Carlton to wear a mask to protect him in the future. Carlton’s immediate response was “One of the masks that make you look like you are sick?” When Carlton returned, he narrated the incident to his wife. When Hazel got to know about the incident and the fact that these masks were going to be the new normal for travelers and people who live in big cities around the world, she felt there had to be a better alternative.
Later that week, Hazel randomly got to daydreaming back to her childhood –where she would make little scarfs for her dolls. While thinking back about those scarves, she suddenly came up with an idea to build filters into regular clothes. She conceptualized producing something fashionable that could not only add a special touch to any outfit, but that could also help protect the wearer at the same time. She told Carlton about her idea and he immediately got excited. The duo immediately started researching filtration materials and designing the prototype.
This is how G95 came to Life….
“Creating a filtration material that was durable enough to be used in apparel and washable for repeated wear was the key challenge for us,” says Hazel. As most mask filters were single-use and lost their effectiveness after being worn, most of the filtration manufacturers approached by the duo thought they were crazy. Hazel and Carlton, however, knew they were onto something and refused to give up. After months of research, they found a specialized group of manufacturers that helped them, and together, they created the unique G95 filtration material.
In late 2016, they filed their first patent for sandwiching reusable and washable particulate filtration material between fabrics in apparel. In 2018, within few months of launching the first product –the Bioscarf, Carlton’s home region in the San Francisco Bay area witnessed the worst wildfires in its history. Hazel believes that this crisis was their first ‘real-world’ test. “The bioscarves did a fantastic job throughout the crisis, outperforming our wildest ambitions,” she added.
The company received terrific feedback from people who wore scarves during the fire. The G95 filtration material worked so well even in thick smoke that the wearers could not even smell the smoke. In tests, G95’s proprietary design filtered out 99% of all airborne contaminants 0.1 microns and larger to help protect the wearer from bacteria, viruses, air pollution, allergens, smoke, and other airborne health risks.
“We made it to the other side”…
Hazel and Carlton believe that 2020 was a rude awakening for them and G95. Due to the suddenly emerged necessity of safety precautions, the demand for G95 products increased significantly, throwing it into several supply chain issues. “It was rougher than we could have ever imagined but we made it to the other side, and we are better, and the company is better for it,” the duo added.
G95 had already started expanding its range beyond scarves in 2019 and created new designs such as Biogaiters and Biohoodies. Moreover, in the wake of the pandemic, the company developed Bioshield – the only washable and re-usable mask with built-in protective filtration.
“The events of this past year have turned each of us into preppers or survivalists,” stated the duo. In the near future, they envision that more apparel companies will incorporate protection into their gear and that consumers will begin to layer and carry protection in various forms to be prepared for whatever they might encounter.
Read the full issue: The 10 Influential Personalities in the Retail and Fashion Industry.